For many advertisers, $7 million for 30 seconds in the Super Bowl is worth the price of admission, since it can announce their brand to a huge audience, many of whom are just as engaged with the ads as they are with the actual game and that, over the past few years, has been almost equally split between men and women according to Nielsen data.
But that high cost is often just a starting point, especially since many brands want more time.
“It’s very rare that you’re buying a 30-second spot,” said one media executive. This person said that the media cost of the ads are often $15 million for a 60-second spot and $22 million for a 90.
Some deep-pocketed brands seem to make that decision reflexively.
“There’s never any hesitation that we would return to the game,” Todd Allen, Bud Light’s marketing senior vice president, told Business Insider.
Bud Light is set to air a one-minute spot this year. Its parent company, Anheuser-Busch InBev, has consistently invested about $7.5 billion annually in global marketing.
A Super Bowl investment is also “almost automatic” for TurboTax because the game coincides with tax time, the company’s peak season, Nick Soukas, the company’s senior vice president of marketing, said. TurboTax is set to run a 45-second ad during the Super Bowl, plus 30-second spots both before and after the game.
But Super Bowl first timers such as the candy brand Nerds, which is capping almost four years of explosive sales growth, are betting big that the investment will be a major business accelerant.
The big creative risk
Creative is the make-or-break for a Super Bowl ad, the biggest factor that will justify the investment by entrenching the brand in the national zeitgeist.
On average, producing Super Bowl ad creative is 50% to 60% more expensive than a regular ad, due to the spike in costs of enlisting A-list celebrity talent, an A-list director, and purchasing music licenses, said Melissa Tifrere, head of integrated production at Havas New York.
But there’s still no guarantee that money will generate a successful ad.
“Everybody knows if you put horses, dogs, and kids in the ad, you’ll do well,” Joe Staples, the chief creative officer and partner at the ad agency Mother, said. “But it might not be differentiating, and people might not remember what you’re for.”
The European confectioner Lindt is investing in a Super Bowl ad for the first time this year because it hit 30% penetration in the US and has its sights set on accelerating that growth, Lindt USA CEO Ana Dominguez told BI. The company worked with its agency Grey to build an ad that would justify that investment, meaning it would entertain viewers and ensure they remembered Lindt.
“We needed creative that breaks through the environment of the Super Bowl, but it also had to be an ad that conveyed what our brand was about,” she said.
Investment needs to continue even after the initial airing for the Super Bowl ad to maximize its potential. The online marketplace Rakuten invested in a Super Bowl ad in 2022 and 2023 but isn’t this year as its strategy has shifted from driving broad awareness to targeting millennial women.
The company’s Super Bowl strategy greatly evolved between those two years. After its 2023 Super Bowl spot that paid homage to the ’90s hit movie “Clueless,” Rakuten continued to position itself as a fashion-focused rewards platform by partnering with New York Fashion Week.
“That’s what’s most important: It’s bigger than just the spot,” Vicki McRae, Rakuten’s senior vice president of marketing and creative, said. “The first time around, we weren’t as sophisticated about that, and we didn’t have as many additional stories to tell.”
Regardless of the risks, Super Bowl advertisers have the opportunity to jolt their business to new heights. The TV-measurement firm EDO found that last year, consumers were 60% more likely to engage with Super Bowl advertisers compared with NFL regular-season advertisers, and 179% more likely to engage with them compared with ads that aired during prime time.
And McRae said that thanks to the two spots, Rakuten’s awareness is “at an all-time high.”
Sofia Colucci, the chief marketing officer of Molson Coors, told BI that after the brand returned to the Super Bowl last year for the first time in 33 years, “Coors Light was the fastest share grower in total beer.”
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