By Vicki Severn —
On Sunday, Feb. 5, the world will eagerly tune into Super Bowl LI. FOX will broadcast the game live from NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, to over 170 countries, and, if prior-year viewing habits hold true, the audience will be over 100 million strong. Many watch for the game itself while some are in it for the halftime show, but the commercials are what everyone will be talking about the next morning around the water cooler.
The Super Bowl holds 19 of the top 20 spots for the most-watched television broadcasts in history. (The 1983 M*A*S*H finale keeps it from being a total runaway.) The top spot goes to 2015’s Super Bowl XLIX, with an average of 115.2 million watching throughout the game and 120 million rapt viewers for the final minutes. It’s no surprise this is prime advertising time!
Last year, viewers were exposed to 62 commercials from 53 different advertisers. Seventeen of the advertisers were brand-new, having never paid to advertise during the Super Bowl before. Ads comprised 22 percent of the broadcast, for a whopping 49 minutes and 35 seconds of airtime.
All those national ads come at a high cost. Advertising during the inaugural Super Bowl in 1967 ran for a mere $37,500 for a 30-second spot. By 2007, it had climbed to $2.6 million, and the most recent decade has seen that nearly double, with 2017 priced at a cool $5 million for that same 30-second timeslot. Though 4 cents per viewer sounds like a good deal, that only gets the ad on the air. The total expenses for filming, celebrity endorsements, and computer-generated imagery (CGI) can easily add up to double or even triple that amount. In 2011, rapper Eminem starred in the most expensive commercial (a whopping $12.4 million) to advertise the Chrysler 200. Because of this ad, consumers viewed Chrysler as the company that rebranded and revitalized the Detroit auto industry, giving the struggling city a much-needed boost. Plus, Chrysler sales have gone up 50 percent.
Every year, companies strive to have an edgier or more memorable ad, stretching their budgets as well as their creativity. Without realizing it, these ads have changed our pop culture. The Bud-Weis-Er Frogs originated as a Super Bowl advertisement. If you’ve ever said, “Where’s the beef?” in a grumpy, old lady voice, you’ve quoted a Wendy’s Super Bowl commercial. The iconic “1984” Macintosh ad is burned into our memories. And most of us became teary-eyed at the love between a Clydesdale and a puppy. Thanks to websites like YouTube.com, we can go back and view all our favorites and some we’ve missed.
Whether you’re tuning in for the football, the halftime show, or the commercials, Super Bowl LI is going to make history.