The Super Bowl is more than just a game. It is more than a reason for football fans to gorge themselves on nachos, hot wings, beer and yell at their TVs in unison at the ref who miscalled a play. Do not get us wrong, those are all necessities on game night. But there is another reason that’ is developed over the years making the Super Bowl one of the most watched annual television events in the world every year: the Super Bowl commercials.
Every year there is pressure on advertisers to make Super Bowl commercials bigger, better and more entertaining than the year before. Everybody knows this, even people who could not care less about football; and so even reluctant girlfriends and wives sit down during commercial breaks to watch. With the increased viewership comes an increased price tag of course, given the viewership numbers. Though we are not sure how much major brand-name products like Coca-Cola, Doritos and Bud Light spend on production costs, the cost of a 30-second spot on game night is public information for all to wonder at, and can reach millions for just that 1 time slot of 30 seconds – crazy. So, without further ado let us look at what kind of numbers go into your viewing pleasure while you are wondering if your best friend is going to snag that last wing on the plate.
In 1967 a 30-second ad/commercial for the Super Bowl cost $37,500 bucks. That is a hefty fee if you adjust for inflation, but it was not going to break huge companies like Budweiser. Fast forward to 2008 and that price jumped up to over a million for these Super Bowl commercials; in fact, it was $2.7 million, and 97,448,000 people tuned in to watch. That is not just a bunch of frat boys, that is not just their women, that is grandma and grandpa, Aunt Hilda and the old guy across the street who will not retrieve the baseball from his backyard the kids accidentally batted into it, and others. In 2009, just a year later, the cost jumped up to an even $3 million per ad. That year Miller High Life must have been trying to save a buck. They purchased one second of air time. That is right. They ran a one second long commercial. It was so short they did not even have enough time to fit in their entire name. Maybe that is why you reach for Bud Light at the store instead of Miller High life—who knows.
Some of the most memorable and beloved commercials of all time have lit up the old boob tube on Super Bowl night. But what is the best of the best? Or the most highly rated? That honor goes to Apple’s “1984” Super Bowl commercial.
In case you do not remember (a quick hop on Youtube should refresh your memory) the entire thing was gray and referenced George Orwell’s book, “1984,” which was a cry against dictatorships and communism. So, Apple has the citizens, all in gray, marching toward a huge room where they sit down in front of a huge TV and the dictator’s talking about unity…then comes an aerobically fit woman in a very 1980s look running down the main aisle with a sledgehammer. The sledgehammer goes flying into the TV and the audience looks stunned. At the time of the commercial no one had any idea what the commercial meant. But, boy do we know now. It is estimated that through re-plays on college campuses and media talk post-commercial the thing generated 50 to 60 times more value in free publicity over what the cost of the post was.
Jumping to more recent Super Bowl commercial memories, one of the highlights of the 2011 commercial breaks was the Detroit Chrysler ad. It is a no-holds-barred look at the city of Detroit as it is now. In the background is one of Eminem’s songs. The narrator talks about how hard Detroit is, what it has been through and then Em gets out of the car and walks into the Fox Theater where a choir of gospel singers is belting out his tune. Michiganders everywhere blew up Twitter and Facebook with pride.
E*Trade, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, fast food companies and Good-Year Tires are all recent Super Bowl commercial staples and known to have some of the most entertaining ads/commercials year after year. The biggest upcoming blockbuster films make a play during Super Bowl time too. And these days you are likely to see a few commercials for the hottest Internet start-ups or the biggest service-offering websites.
If you are planning on being out of the country the night of the big game, but still intend on watching it, do not expect to see the American Super Bowl ads unless you have got an American station on Satellite. Even in Canada, so close to our borders, they have to suffer the ads the Canadian stations air, which are not bad, but definitely not Super Bowl quality.
But, do not sweat missing US ads just yet. There are so many websites that archive them, Youtube is just one, you can start watching them on your smart phone as soon as your plane touches down on home soil. They are pretty entertaining all on their own, and if you catch a compilation of a specific year’s Super Bowl ads, it is kind of like watching a bunch of tiny, short films back to back.