A fragmented media landscape has made it much harder for advertisers to reach large audiences. So when one event attracts the attention of millions, it could be worth the investment in ad space. And none captures more eyeballs in the U.S. than the Super Bowl.
We’re often torn between social media, streaming platforms and pay TV, with eyes darting across several screens. But one of the few options that’s managed to hold our attention is live sport. In the U.S., American football accounted for 93 of the top 100 most watched broadcasts in 2023. The NFL grand final, the Super Bowl, was watched by over a third of the U.S. population last year, and around 110 million viewers are expected to tune in for this Sunday’s game. So it’s no surprise this match is considered a pinnacle event for advertisers.
However, the opportunity comes with a befitting price tag: a 30-second ad slot is estimated to cost US$7m this year. That’s similar to 2023, but makes the US$5.3m figure from 2019 look like a bargain. This kind of outlay is better suited to established brands and common products that have mass appeal – otherwise, advertising can often be better targeted via other channels.
The big media spend calls for big production budgets, and the best brains in the business get to work on Super Bowl ads. As a result, they’ve gained a place in popular culture, often filled with star-studded casts poking fun at themselves and the products. This year the Beckhams parody their own Netflix ($NFLX) series for Uber Eats ($UBER); Christopher Walken gets worked up about ‘an ad for an ad’ in BMW’s teaser; and DoorDash ($DASH) is giving one person a chance to win products from other advertisers. Companies are aware consumers have become increasingly savvy, so they often see Super Bowl ads as a way of making their firms more relatable and getting people involved.
Brands that have grabbed a coveted ad slot this year include Booking.com ($BKNG), Verizon ($VZ), TurboTax ($INTU) and Google ($GOOG). Watchers could play bingo with the range of snacks on display, as Oreo ($MDLZ), Pringles ($K), Doritos ($PEP), Budweiser ($ABEV) and M&Ms will all feature. The products being advertised in 2024 also reflect a more restrained economy, amid inflation concerns – a far cry from the 2022 event, dominated by ads for cryptocurrency firms.
There will be more female-centric brands, which has been linked to none other than Taylor Swift, whose romance with Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce is all over the gossip headlines. Etsy ($ETSY) and L’Oreal’s NYX makeup will make their first appearances this year, while Dove ($UL) will return after an 18-year hiatus.
According to the Super Bowl Indicator, which claims to predict the stock market’s performance based on the outcome of the match, if Kelce’s Chiefs win, the stock market will decline over the next year. But if the San Francisco 49ers come out on top, there will be a bull run. It has an overall accuracy rate of 72% since its founding in 1978, but this has fallen to 30% for the past 20 years.
Companies don’t just consider immediate return on investment for their ads, with brand awareness an important factor. And with the number of TV viewers reached per dollar spent reducing from 24 in 2000 to 15 in 2022, advertisers are taking a punt on whether their Super Bowl commercial will create a rush on their products.