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Super Bowl advertising marks an inflating commercialized cultural mega-event

In the past ten years, the average cost of a 30-second commercial spot during Super Bowl has grown by 88%. This depicts a remarkable inflation in Super Bowl advertising prices since 2006 while the average viewers have only grown by 25% during the same time period. The price of a 30-second spot touches the $5 mio. mark this year (2016) so corporate brands get to PAY for the association with this extravagant and culturally inescapable one-day sporting event (SportBusiness Intelligence, 2016).

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Infographic: Average Super Bowl viewing growth slows as ad spend continues to soar (source: SportBusiness Intelligence, 2016).

The tendency in terms of doing business with the Super Bowl illustrates a pattern, in which corporate brands has had to pay an increasing price per eyeball. The price per viewer has gone from 2.79 cents for a 30-second spot in 2011 to 3.93 cents per viewer last year (2015). This price has increased to an even higher amount per viewer this year as the amount of viewers in ‘Super Bowl 50’ fell short of the 2015 amount while the advertising price went up. However, corporate brands acknowledge the branding impact of the Super Bowl for what reason they are eager to boost their advertising spending although the trade-off between advertising prices and viewers aren’t in favor of their corporate marketing budgets.

Cost of Super Bowl Ads

Infographic: Price development for Super Bowl advertising (source: USA Today).

Ticket Prices Super Bowl

Infographic. Price development for Super Bowl tickets (source: USA Today).

Despite this development, the prestige, reputational capital and engagement rates linked to Super Bowl advertising convince many ambitious brands to commit to even better and more expensive Super Bowl content. This is not a surprising incident as the Super Bowl is nearly the only television phenomenon in the US to surpass 100 mio. viewers.

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Infographic: Super Bowl viewership 1967-2015 (source: USA Today).

Moreover, marketers can add the cultural relevance of the event, which has positioned the Super Bowl as a national celebration. Additionally, these viewers account for a constructive demographic that has a good qualitative nature as the Super Bowl appeal to both male and female audiences. Super Bowl advertising symbolizes that corporate brands are determined and aspiring while giving these brands a chance to demonstrate creative and appealing efforts to engage with audiences. As I wrote last year, see here, the Super Bowl is a huge marketing event and for some people it is just as much about the commercials as the game itself. In 2016, we have witnessed that ads were streamed live online to enhance the ‘value for money’ of the big-spending corporate brands that also have shown a tendency to encourage rates of engagement via social media platforms. Take for instance a look via YouTube, see the commercials below. Doritos’ ‘Crash the Super Bowl contest, see photo below, is a perfect example of increasing the rates of customer/fan engagement via entertaining involvement and content. Doritos’ top-shared commercial this year was its ‘Ultrasound’ commercial that showed great amusement and creativity although the ‘Doritos Dogs’ actually ended up winning the engaging fan contest.

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Budweiser paired up with actress Helen Mirren to emphasize a movement that took a stand against drunk driving via the hashtag #GiveADamn to show a positive CSR-initiative to protect the lives of drives and others. Budweiser also used the hashtag #ActLikeIt to lead fans to the right beer consuming Super Bowl atmosphere – the brand integrated the wording ‘IT’S THE SUPER BOWL, #ActLikeIt, THIS BUD’S FOR YOU’.



According to BrandRepublic, NFL-related activities on social media in the UK has grown as well. The global reach of the Super Bowl has picked up as well and the trend among European NFL fans is that they are general sports fans driven by the effect of American popular culture. Even in Denmark, we have seen that NFL fans start to connect via Super Bowl parties where they meet to watch the game while enjoying American food culture like beer, hamburgers and hot wings. Below, there is information on how Twitter users in general reacted to commercial Super Bowl content.

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