Big Brands Gear Up For Another Super Bowl Ad Rush

The cost of a 30-second spot is going up, and so is the use of celebrity endorsers.

Photo of Super Bowl trophy
Photo by Erik Drost via CC BY 2.0

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Advertisers are emptying their wallets to be a part of maybe the only thing Americans can agree on anymore.

The NFL’s big game is back once again, and, as per usual, brands are pulling out all the stops, including major celebrity endorsements – not just Taylor –  to turn one Sunday’s mega-monoculture event into an all-out advertising blitz.

In the Green Zone

In an era of increasingly fractured media spheres and declining TV ratings, the NFL — and the Super Bowl, in particular — remains one of the few events guaranteed to secure massive amounts of eyeballs. Last year’s game grabbed 115.1 million viewers, according to Nielsen, making it the second most-watched TV broadcast in US history, second only to the Apollo 11 moon landing. In fact, of the top 15 most-watched broadcasts in US history, only three weren’t Super Bowls: the moon landing, Richard Nixon’s resignation speech, and the M*A*S*H finale in 1983. 

That makes ad space incredibly valuable. Brands are paying more than ever, and featuring more celebrity endorsements than ever, to create buzz-worthy commercials:

  • For the second year in a row, a 30-second Super Bowl spot is expected to command about $7 million, up from around $2.4 million in 2010.
  • Also up: ads featuring celebrity endorsements. Roughly 40% of ads this year will feature a celebrity, according to a report from iSpot.tv, about a six-fold increase from 2010.

Own Goal: The NFL’s increasing value isn’t going unnoticed by its players union. In a press conference this week, the union’s new executive director, Lloyd Howell, said he wants players to eventually become shareholders in the franchises they play for — a rebuke of a policy adopted by the league last year barring players and team employees from doing exactly that. The league reportedly blocked quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ attempt to score equity in his contract with the New York Jets. But it smells to us like a double standard: the league had no issue with Rodgers owning the Chicago Bears over the previous decade.