We’re just days away from the big game – and the Super Bowl remains the one event of the year where many people tune in just to see the ads. That’s why this year, NBC now charges $6.5 million per 30-second ad spot, up from $5.5 million last year. That’s quite a leap from the first Super Bowl in 1967, when the Super Bowl aired on both NBC and CBS. The former charged $75,000 for a 60-second slot, while the latter charged $85,000 – unheard of at the time.
For years, Super Bowl ads were often just regular ads, but that started to change in 1980, when during Super Bowl 14 the now famous Coca-Cola ad – titled “Hey Kid, Catch” – in which “Mean” Joe Greene gives his game jersey to a broadcast young boy. Having already made his NFL debut in the fall of 1979, he struck a chord with the public on Super Bowl Sunday.
The first truly “revolutionary” ad came four years later.
It was Apple’s “1984” commercial, which aired during Super Bowl 18. Directed by filmmaker Ridley Scott, it cost around $375,000 to produce – while the average commercial this year – there was $525,000. It was a considerable sum for what was then a still largely unknown business, but it was seen as a worthwhile investment as the spot was reportedly seen by 85 million people and continues to rank as one of the most famous of all time.
Yet it was actually the second ad broadcast time. It had been broadcast on a small number of local stations in the western United States just before midnight on December 31, 1983 in order to qualify for the 1984 Clio Awards.
Plus, unlike many ads today that will be seen for weeks after the event, the “1984” ad was not rebroadcast. However, it is available on YouTube.
Announcements in 2022
Today, it’s increasingly common for many of the biggest ads to debut in the days leading up to the big game. And in the age of social media, many ads can even go viral even if the game lacks excitement.
“Super Bowl commercials are usually a good investment because a lot of people pay attention to them. In fact, some people watch the Super Bowl with that goal in mind,” said Julianna Kirschner, a lecturer at the master’s program in communication management at USC.
“However, as Super Bowl ad prices skyrocket, the investment may become more difficult for organizations as they develop their strategic plan,” Kirschner explained via email. “Social media platforms are a great place to start and continue the trajectory of a Super Bowl ad. Social media generally operates with a structural divide, meaning what a person sees in their feed may not be what another person sees.”
Moreover, those who do not do tune in on Super Bowl Sunday will still encounter the ads thanks to the influence of social media.
“Platforms algorithmically separate people based on what they think users want to see. Organizations could use this structural divide to their advantage because they have a virtual captive audience,” Kirschner added. “Audiences that are primed for certain corporate posts often amplify their content, through original tweets, retweets, and sharing features, making content stronger for those who might be in the same or adjacent algorithmic categories. Live tweeting can also be a way to connect with users interested in a brand, so they can engage with an organization’s content while their interest is piqued by Super Bowl advertising.”
How to maximize the advertising campaign
Given the price of advertisements, the question is how social media can further maximize an advertisement’s exposure.
“There are two sides to the situation. One argument for sure is that Super Bowl ads are too expensive for the airtime received. Advertisers can certainly get a lot more bang for their buck by spending elsewhere, such as on influencers, more targeted ads on social media, or even through direct mail,” said Colin Campbell, assistant professor of marketing at the Knauss School of Business at the University of San Diego.
“Some advertisers might also consider taking a guerrilla marketing approach and trying to create ads that play off the main Super Bowl ads by spoofing them, adding them, or even mocking them. This can be a very profitable way to leverage another company’s advertising spend to your own advantage, but it’s more common among challenger brands (rising and upcoming) as it draws attention to that other brand as well” , Campbell added.
“The other argument is that the Super Bowl ads are worth the price because of the buzz they get,” Campbell continued. “This is analogous to the concept of ‘replay’ in print media (magazines and newspapers), which advertisers know more than one person is likely to read. The more reviews a publication has, the more their ads are worth as they attract more globes Super Bowl commercials are not only viewed once during the game, they are also viewed before and after on YouTube, and receive a lot of media attention. make Super Bowl ads actually seem reasonably priced.”
Ad buyers also need to be proactive, not reactive, explained Dr. Dustin York, associate professor of communications at Maryville University.
“Every Super Bowl viewer has two things in common, viewers are all experiencing the same thing at the same time, and they will be watching the game with at least one smart device at their fingertips. Social media is an opportunity for ‘news’ companies jack’ what millions of viewers experience simultaneously,” York said.
There may also be opportunities even for companies that have not purchased a seat.
“Remember the ‘Oreo tweet’ that went viral as soon as the Super Bowl stadium lights went out in 2013,” York noted. “Companies should have someone on their social team ready to create content that engages a live national conversation fueled by the Super Bowl.”