The Super Bowl Defies TV Advertising Slump

in Sport

Despite the decline in TV advertising, networks can still demand $5.6 million for a coveted 30-second spot during the Super Bowl.

While $5.6 million may sound like an inordinate sum of money to some, these brands see it as a lucrative investment. It’s the price you pay for the guarantee of having your ad put in front of such a large audience. These ads are featured on the four most popular American TV networks; CBS, NBC, ABC, and Fox. The slot prices are reflective of the large sums of money made from these ads, which promote some of the most recognised brands in the world.

These ads have become such large productions, that big-name directors such as Ridley Scott and Joe Pytka have been hired to direct them, and they have featured the likes of Britney Spears, Steve Buscemi, The Fugees, Keanu Reeves and Danny Trejo.

With all the excitement building up for the Super Bowl LIV, more than 100 million Americans will gather around their TVs with their buffalo wings and ice-cold drinks to watch the game on 2 February which will take place at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.

“It’s a guaranteed audience of X million – whatever that number is going to be this year. The business of the business is the more eyeballs you get, the more you should pay,” says Doug Gould, the creator of two award-winning Super Bowl ads for Budweiser.

Since the mid-1980s, the Super Bowl ads have been discussed as much as the game and the ever-popular halftime show. Viewers now look forward to these ads as they have become a part of the whole Super Bowl experience. As well as placing bets on the Super Bowl winners with places like Betway, viewers have the opportunity to vote for their favourite ads through USA Today’s Super Bowl Ad Meter.

Having a spot during the Super Bowl gains these brands a certain level of prestige. In the race to purchase the best slots and create the most memorable ads, advertisers get almost as competitive as the payers on the field.

“You have the industry to thank for that,” says Doug Gould. “They looked at the amount of human beings who were watching this event and they said: ‘We have this many eyeballs at once – we should not screw this up. We should do something big. We should do something that amazes people.’”

Even Donald Trump wants a piece of the action, and will run a $10 million 60-second ad near the beginning of the game. This marks the first time a US president has used a Super Bowl advertising spot to promote their agenda. He seems to be getting ahead of next year’s election, as he is hoping to spend a second term in office.

“This is significant,” Gould says. “I don’t remember seeing politicians advertise nationally at the Super Bowl before. Politics has been injected into sport in the past – if you go back to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, and then the 1980 games in Moscow – so I guess it was just a matter of time until it found its way into the Super Bowl.”

It also appears that Trump isn’t the only US politician to run a Super Bowl ad this year. Democrat Michael Bloomberg has bought a 60-second slot also worth $10 million. His ad is set to run during halftime.

Over the years, the prices to secure a spot during the Super Bowl have gone up. Whereas Fox charged approximately $5.25 million for a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl LIII in 2019, they had upped that price to $5.6 million for the 2020 ads and announced that all of their spots were filled by November of last year.

“With the rare exception of sports and tragedies now – hurricanes, volcanoes, terrorist attacks – where people are watching the news 24 hours a day, it’s harder and harder for clients to pin down a massive amount of customers,” Gould says.

Despite the Super Bowl’s TV advertising success, the cost of TV advertising on these big four networks is dropping elsewhere. Brands are also lowering their TV ad spending in favour of digital ads as viewers are turning to streaming platforms and the internet. Furthermore, Magna Global found that there was a 3% decline in US TV ad sales in 2019.

“The Super Bowl is one of the few places in the universe where you know people are going to see you. They can’t skip you, they can’t fast forward, they can’t scroll down the page,” says Gould.

The Super Bowl is one of the biggest events of the year and these aren’t the same typical ads you would usually see on TV, so it’s no wonder that these networks can demand such high prices compared to any other time of the year.

Usually, when TV ads come on, that’s people’s time to run to the bathroom, get some snacks, or scroll through their phones before diving back to the couch when their favourite show comes back on, but the Super Bowl LIV ads are sure to be spectacular and are not something they going to want to miss.

Super Bowl infographic

Image Credits: Free To Use Sounds

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