Super Bowl LVII is right around the corner, and big advertising changes are coming this year at “the big game.” Let’s kick off with the ones making headlines.
- For the first time since 2013 (yes, it’s been a decade since the Har-Bowl), Apple Music and Rihanna are running the “Road to Halftime”, thanks to a five-year $300 million co-brand that booted Pepsi off the masthead.
- Booze brands are buzzing with excitement as Anheuser-Busch InBev finally dropped its 34-year exclusivity clause on alcohol advertising. How YOU doing, Miller Light?
- You can expect plenty of airtime rookies (around 40%) to take the field in place of long-time veterans like Coca-Cola, Hyundai, and Toyota, who (among many others) dropped off the commercial roster this year.
What were their reasons? It’s hard to say. Most are staying tight-lipped about sports marketing objectives for the year ahead. But the fact that a 30-second ad spot costs $7 million (the highest average price tag to date) in an economy with rising inflation might provide an answer. Still, 95% of ad inventory was sold out back in early September of 2022. So, clearly someone still believes in the power of a well-placed puppy (plus Clydesdale).
At Spire, we took the time to investigate this year’s ad lineup (spoiler: we’re focused on B2B—our specialty) and why, despite rising prices, advertisers around the world are still easily spending six figures to share in the limelight of football’s biggest stage.
As fans and brands around the world unite for Super Bowl LVII, let’s break down the one cultural phenomenon where no one skips the commercials.
How Super Bowl Advertising Costs Have Evolved
An estimated 192.9 million U.S. adults and over 100 million viewers worldwide will tune in for Super Bowl LVII as the Chiefs face the Eagles on Sunday, February 12th from State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. While not every superfan will be tailgating with Guy Fieri, or breaking into the bank to afford an average $10,000 ticket stub, 19% of Americans reported that the commercials are the “most important” part of Sunday’s game. No wonder the NFL is willing to hike the price every year—but how did we get here?
- 1967: Commercials for Super Bowl I split airtime on both CBS and NBC (the only co-broadcast ever), which cost anywhere between $37,500 and $42,500 per spot. In today’s terms, that’s around $323,000 in buying power.
- 1984: Apple’s famous Orwellian ad of the same name debuted with controversial shock and awe. It featured Ridley Scott as the director and landmark costs totaling over $1.9 million (production plus two primetime spots). Fact: Most of Apple’s board thought it was “the worst commercial they had ever seen.” Another fact: Within 100 days, Apple had sold 72,000 new Macintosh computers.
- 1995: The first year where the average cost of placement (no production) surpassed $1 million, when one unnamed 30-second spot sold for $1.15 million.
- 2006: Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” campaign launches a 10-year contest that had everyday fans and brand advocates make Super Bowl commercials for them, with winners awarded between $400,000 and $1 million in prize money. (And the spots still cost ~$4.5 million to air.)
- 2020: Google’s nostalgic tech ad “Loretta” becomes the most expensive Super Bowl ad of all time at $16.8 million, surpassing the former record-holder 84 Lumber’s “The Journey Begins” $16.2 million from 2017.
Why the Super Bowl Is Still a Golden Ticket Opportunity for Advertisers
Today, the cost of production alone for a Super Bowl commercial is over $750,000 with an average airtime cost of $7 million. Broken down, that’s a total increase of 18566.7% since 1967—a little under 60 years. To put this in perspective, today’s brands are paying $233,333 per second for a 30-second spot. It’s an incredible rate of growth to be sure, but not without justification. Let’s look at why.
Here are Forbes (and others’) gameday stats from 2022 for marketers like me obsessed with return-on-investment:
- Reach: 56% of U.S. households tuned into the telecast on NBC, Telemundo, and Peacock, reaching a total audience of 149.9 million people.
- Impressions: The game generated 4.39 billion verified household ad impressions across all platforms in 216 minutes.
- Attention Rate: Super Bowl commercial attention rate was 36% higher than the average across all networks and shows that day, and their completion rate was 98.6%.
- Purchase Intent: After seeing the ads, “purchase intent” increased to 47%, while 53% of the ads “sparked curiosity” about the brand.
- Revenue (the tough one): Super Bowl ads increased brand revenue by 10% to 15% per household in the following eight weeks.
- Bonus (midgame music spike): The bump from the halftime show resulted in an ad completion rate peak of 99.5%, justifying the additional millions that advertisers spent on post-halftime show spots.
B2B Commercials to Look for at Super Bowl LVII
As B2B marketing specialists, we’re always looking to be inspired by creative ways that businesses engage their fans and share powerful messages about their products and services with the world. Sometimes, there’s no better platform than the Super Bowl to see what an intentional plan to invest money, time, and creativity into a B2B advertising campaign can buy—not only during gametime but for years to come.
Here are B2B ads to look for at Super Bowl 2023:
- Workday – An ERP cloud platform that somehow got the Prince of Darkness to dress in business casual. Ozzy Osbourne is joined by other music legends, including a guest appearance by Joan Jett, as they rock the paradigms of the modern office.
- Squarespace – The DIY website builder returns with a spot featuring another famous actor, but this time there’s no motorcycle. Two-time Oscar-nominated Adam Driver plays what looks like many versions of himself and screams “websites” at a wooden door.
- Publicis Groupe – The first time a holding company has run a Super Bowl ad, Publicis Groupe’s relationship with the Working For Cancer coalition is featured in “Monday,” which sheds light on the stigmas associated with employees diagnosed and working with cancer.
- Intuit TurboTax – Veteran tax platform TurboTax is back with seven short films that will culminate in the “Come to TurboTax” campaign to highlight their all-in-one tax service solutions.
The Game-Time Decision
It’s the multi-million-dollar question that every CMO is asking: Is investing in a Super Bowl commercial worth it? A survey from Marketing Brew and Harris Poll found about three in four (76%) likely viewers said they were at least somewhat excited about the ads. And while 84% said advertising during the game is a “smart investment for brands,” 65% agreed that “there are more effective ways than advertising during the Super Bowl for advertisers to reach consumers.” Each brand will have a chance to debut either a big win or an expensive loss on Sunday, so I guess we’ll have to wait for the coin toss. Happy Super Bowl, everyone.
Update: The Chiefs defeated the Eagles 38-35 in one of the best games in history. See what The USA Ad Meter found were the best 10 Super Bowl commercials as voted upon by fans. And Fox’s Super Bowl ratings scored big with 113 million viewers, the third most-watched TV program ever.
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Luke Bryant is a Senior Account Executive at Spire, and is also Ad 2 Dallas president and an Ad 2 Dallas “32 Under 32” recipient.