The Super Bowl is much more than a football game to determine a champion; it is a cultural phenomenon. One of the most important elements of Super Bowl Sunday isn’t the on the field action; it is the commercials on television during the breaks in the action. For companies that want to advertise during the game, it is quite costly to partake in this action. A 30 second spot during Super Bowl XLIV will cost $2.5-2.8 million. That figure only includes paying the television network for the time. It doesn’t include costs to produce the ad. The final cost for a 30 second Super Bowl ad could easily run $4 million +. With this in mind, there’s one glaring question. Is Super Bowl advertising worth the cost?
The answer to this question isn’t a simple and definitive yes or no. Advertising during the Super Bowl can raise brand awareness. It also can be used simply to remind a target market of the importance of a brand within a product category. Using an ad in this manner would reinforce existing brand beliefs and hopefully induce a desire to purchase. However, a Super Bowl advertisement can affect a company negatively if not executed correctly. The effectiveness of Super Bowl advertising depends on the perspective of the advertiser, a brand’s strategic objectives and other marketing mix elements.
One of the appealing elements of advertising during the Super Bowl is the fact that it consistently draws a significant audience. More than 90 million people in the United States have watched each of the last 4 Super Bowls. Every Super Bowl since Super Bowl XXVII in January 1993 has drawn at least 80 million viewers. This is noteworthy because television audiences have become far more fragmented over time. The proliferation of television networks with cable/satellite TV, video entertainment options such as video games and DVDs and the vast array of Internet content have been the primary causes of audience fragmentation. The Super Bowl has been one of the few television programs that has been relatively unscathed by audience fragmentation. As a result, the network broadcasting the game (CBS this year) can charge premium pricing for advertising.