Super Bowl of Real-Time Marketing – $4 Million for 30 Seconds Airtime. Heavily overprized!

February 20, 2014 / Arielle Adler

With more than 100 million viewers, the Super Bowl game is America’s highest rated television program and unquestionably the ruler of yearly sporting events. It is well known that it is one of the best times for companies to sell their products and messages to consumers.

Companies paid around $4 million a 30-second spot during this year’s game!

Image courtesy of Budweiser
This outrageous sum obviously didn’t even include the production costs, work and hours invested in creating an attractive and powerful advert; an advert that would have much impact on the public’s awareness, and possibly even become a trending topic on Twitter and Facebook alongside.  Oreo cookies succeeded strikingly as their message was retweeted 10,000 times in the first hour, picked up 18,000 likes and 5,000 shares on Facebook.
According to statistics, the right blend of humor and emotion carries the highest success rate as past Super Bowls has shown. 

Promoting the products started long before the Super Bowl itself;  as part of the “pregame”, brands dropped tantalizing Super Bowl tweets and tried to find unique ways to amuse Super Bowl visitors with product sampling, live entertainment and even arranged accommodation for them (e.g. Bud Light Hotel, a cruise ship hosting 4000 Super Bowl fans).

At such monstrous prices and costs involved for the production of an advert and its airtime, industry cynics rightfully questioned whether a legitimate ROI is even possible. 

Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB) explained that ”there is plenty of brand awareness for Anheuser-Busch products, but sports marketing is about so much more”.
Entertaining fact is that Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB) will need to sell around 5 million cases of beer just to break even on the cost of their Super Bowl ad time, not taking into account their advert production costs.

What a 90 sec advert could have bought Maserati for the estimated costs of $16 to 17 million dollars*?

• 52 full-page ads in The Wall Street Journal and Financial Times
• 60 double-page color spreads and a load of premium digital placements in Forbes
• Every ad in the New York Times tablet app for six months
• 6,000+ spots on CNBC
• 2-minute spots on the Oscars, the Golden Globes and the Grammy’s
• A 30-second spot every hour in prime time on CNN, MSNBC, FOX News for 4 months
• A national 12-month deal running 90-second spots throughout on cinema
• Every promoted Tweet to the entire U.S. Twitter base for 85 consecutive days

Where would you have invested your money?

* Estimated cost included a 90-second ad (+/- $11 million), production costs of the spot, USA Today cover wrap, Yahoo home-page takeover, paid search and digital display advertising

Image courtesy of