The beauty of the Super Bowl is its broad entertainment value. There’s something for everybody in the five hours between The Star Spangled Banner and the Vince Lombardi trophy. For sports fans, there’s a highly-anticipated football clash. The Super Bowl is not football at its best or most dramatic, but this year’s coast vs. coast, old coach+QB vs. young coach+QB match-up creates more than the usual intrigue.
If you’re not into football, you’re at least enjoying the musical entertainment. Maroon 5 will be there after all (rumor had it they were pulling out), and the band acknowledges “… it’s the biggest stage you could ever play…” Even if you’re not a fan of the 5, you get Gladys Knight (but no Pips) singing the national anthem before kick-off.
If neither live sports nor live music is your bag (and that’s a small rock you live under), you’re watching the commercials instead. I admit – especially as a sports fan – there’s as much press for the Super Bowl ads as there is for the Super Bowl itself. It’s the only sports broadcast I know where viewers fast-forward through the game to get to the commercials.
No wonder advertisers are so worked up for this Sunday. The Super Bowl is routinely the single-most tuned-in-to entertainment of the year. Viewership has quadrupled over the last fifty years. The 2018 Super Bowl drew over 100 million viewers; 25% more than second-place. And what came in second? The Super Bowl post-game show, of course (74 million viewers). Say what you will about the NFL; people watch. The four most-watched television shows in 2018 were NFL games, followed by a “This Is Us” episode… airing immediately after the Super Bowl.
Sunday’s line-up of Super Bowl commercials includes the usual products: cars, drinks (alcoholic), more drinks (non-alcoholic), foods (snack), more foods (fast), even more foods (avocados), and technology. Of course, they’re all designed to get you to remember, long after the game is over. Whether it’s a celebrity, a laugh, or a cute animal, it’s all about permanent placement of the product in your brain. But even if you don’t remember, consider this: the commercials will be watched millions more times on YouTube. Add in the Internet and the considerable cost of Super Bowl advertising is a little easier to swallow.
Speaking of cost, this year’s commercials will set producers back $5 million a spot, for a mere thirty seconds of air time. That’s just the bill to CBS. Production costs run as much as another $5 million. Try counting “one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand” every time you watch a commercial this year. You’re squandering $333,333 for every “-one-thousand” you utter. That’s what I call super dough, and it’s only rising (ha). The car companies account for 25% of the take (remember that the next time you negotiate the purchase of a vehicle), but Anheuser-Busch InBev is the “King of Advertising”, spending over $600 million on Super Bowl commercials since 1995. Yes, Clydesdale horses are cute. More importantly, they sell a lot of beer.
To pique your ad anticipation, Town & Country Magazine’s website includes a list of the “50 Best Super Bowl Commercials” (including the videos). The ads are listed chronologically, starting a-way, way back in 1967. It’s entertaining to see what products and companies paid big for Super Bowl advertising fifty years ago. Some are no longer around. I’m guessing their advertising agencies aren’t either.
Mark my words. Monday morning after the Super Bowl the water-cooler talk will not be about the game. It will be about the commercials. Which one was your favorite? Which one left you scratching your head? Which one was $5 million up in flames? And most importantly, which one will still be talked about years from now? Even this sports fan has to admit: the game will soon be forgotten, but not the ads.