Saturday, 29 January 2011

Super Bowl Advertising Statistics: An Overview

Without doubt, Super Bowl Sunday is the most coveted show-piece event on the advertising calendar. Super Bowl advertising statistics as compiled by Advertising Age and Nielsen Media Research confirm that this annual event is at the top of the list for both advertising firms and companies hoping to weave their way into the public conscience -- and stay there!

Below, we give you a general breakdown of these numbers, decade by decade, year by year.

The 1960s: Super Bowl Advertising Statistics Ranked By Cost Per 30 Second Commercial

The first Super Bowl was played on January 15, 1967 between the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs. It was televised by both CBS and NBC. Super Bowl 2, between the Green Bay Packers and Oakland Raiders, took place on January 14, 1968. Super Bowl 3, between the Baltimore Colts and NY Jets took place on January 12, 1969.

Games that took place in the 1960s offered 30 second commercials for what now seems like bargain prices. The charge for a 30 second ad during Super Bowl 3 was $55,000 only about $500 more than Super Bowl 2 at $54,500. Super Bowl 1 was $42,500 by CBS and $37,500 by NBC.
The main advertisers during these early times of the Super Bowl were beer, cigarette and car companies.

The 1970s: Super Bowl Advertising Statistics Ranked By Cost Per 30 Second Commercial.

The decade of the 70s marked a significant increase for 30 second Super Bowl commercials owing to a marked rise in TV audience numbers for this sporting jamboree. The average total audience crept past the 40 million mark and by 1979 had peaked at just over 70 million for the championship game. Networks leveraged the increased popularity to charge more for their 30 second spots.

Following is a breakdown by cost of 30 second ads for the Super Bowl in the 1970s. Note that prices increased every year except 1971 when NBC made the decision to lower the cost from the previous year to attract more advertisers.

  • 1979 - $222,000
  • 1978 - $185,000
  • 1977 - $162,000
  • 1976 - $125,000
  • 1975 - $110,000
  • 1974 - $107,000
  • 1973 - $103,500
  • 1972 - $86,000
  • 1970 - $78,200
  • 1971 - $72,000

Some of the more memorable commercials during this decade of Super Bowl advertising include the 1973 Noxzema skin cream commercial that featured NY Jet Super Bowl 3 winning quarterback Joe Namath and the Master Lock iconic commercial showing a sharpshooter that could not open the lock despite bullet hit. Another memorable commercial was the Xerox ad featuring Brother Dominic, a Monk that copied documents in the serenity of a medieval monastery.

The 1980s: Super Bowl Advertising Statistics Ranked By Cost Per 30 Second Commercial.

The Super bowl had now become something of an annual ritual. More than 80 million people on average tuned in each year to watch the big game and also to see the highly anticipated new commercials. Prices kept rising by the year from 1980 through 1989 for the much coveted 30 second spots during the Super Bowl. Following is the decade breakdown:

  • 1989 - $675,000
  • 1988 - $600,000
  • 1987 - $575,000
  • 1986 - $550,000
  • 1985 - $500,000
  • 1984 - $450,000
  • 1983 - $400,000
  • 1982 - $345,000
  • 1981 - $324,300
  • 1980 - $275,000

Some of the best and most memorable Super Bowl ads were produced in the 80s. In 1980, for example, Coca-Cola created the Mean Joe Greene ad where the huge defensive end for the Pittsburgh Steelers is given a Coke by a young boy and reciprocates in kind by giving the boy his jersey and thus making a great memory for the boy. Equally impressive was one by Apple Computer in 1984. Playing on the Orwellian theme from the fictional novel "1984," Apple introduced the Macintosh computer.

The 1990s: Super Bowl Advertising Statistics Ranked By Cost Per 30 Second Commercial.

All three of the major networks, ABC, CBS and NBC continued to alternate as host network for the Super Bowl. In 1997, a fourth participant hosted the big event. FOX did not miss a beat as they continued to raise the 30 second rate for advertisers buying time for the Super Bowl. The year 1998 marked the final year for NBC, at least until the current year, that they would broadcast the Super Bowl. Again, the price for a 30 second spot increased or stayed the same for each of the 10 years and for the first time ever, in 1995, the cost for a 30 second ad hit one million dollars -- yes, $1million folks.

The breakdown:

  • 1999 - $1,600,000
  • 1998 - $1,300,000
  • 1997 - $1,200,000
  • 1996 - $1,100,000
  • 1995 - $1,000,000
  • 1994 - $900,000
  • 1993 - $850,000
  • 1992 - $800,000
  • 1991 - $800,000
  • 1990 - $700,000

Commercials for the Super Bowl during the 1990s continued to attract millions of viewers that were not football fans. The build-up for these million dollar commercials that cost as much to produce as to place, was at an all-time high. Anheuser Busch and their Budweiser brand established themselves as a fixture during the different Super Bowls. The Bud Bowl became one of the more memorable advertising campaigns and commercials featuring the impressive Clydesdale horses – these were particular audience favorites. McDonalds also weighed in employing the services of Michael Jordan and Larry Bird in a 1993 ad that showed the two basketball superstars competing in a game of H-O-R-S-E for a Big Mac. LOL! The shots were incredible, even for the best players in the world. Other major advertisers during this decade included Chrysler, Pontiac, Nissan, Toyota, AT&T, Doritos, Gillette, FedEx and American Express.

The 2000s: Super Bowl Advertising Statistics Ranked By Cost Per 30 Second Commercial.

In this decade, the Super Bowl became the highest viewed television program of all time. In 2010, Super Bowl 44 between the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts attracted 106.5 million viewers for CBS. Prices for 30 second spots continued their upward trend, although there were several years when advertising costs dropped. In 2009, the rate hit 3 million dollars. Even at these grossly prohibitive rates, it wasn’t uncommon for spots to sell out -- companies willing to pay these high prices could not be accommodated.

The rate for each year from highest to lowest is shown below.

  • 2009 - $3,000,000
  • 2008 - $2,700,000
  • 2007 - $2,600,000
  • 2006 - $2,500,000
  • 2005 - $2,400,000
  • 2004 - $2,250,000
  • 2003 - $2,100,000
  • 2000 - $2,100,000
  • 2001 - $2,050,000
  • 2002 - $1,900,000

Major advertisers like Coca-Cola and Pepsi continued to run ads during this decade. Newcomers to the world of Super Bowl advertising were the dot com companies. Hoping to get instant name recognition by sponsoring multi-million dollar Super Bowl ad campaigns, companies like,,,,, and many other internet based businesses jumped into the fray. Some like, with the use of a super-sexy woman in their ads, were catapulted to the top of viewer consciences. Others were not so lucky and quickly faded into obscurity.

2010 & 2011: Super Bowl Advertising Statistics Ranked By Cost Per 30 Second Commercial.

The 2010 Super Bowl dropped its advertising rate by 10% from the record $3,000,000 charged in 2009. A 30 second spot cost $2,700,000 in 2010.

The most memorable commercial in 2010 was one for Snickers candy bar that featured octogenarian actress Betty White. In a most humorous twist, Betty White gets tackled and slammed to the ground with the implication that a Snickers Bar is full of energy.

This year’s Super Bowl is expected to attract more than 100 million viewers worldwide and the Fox Network has set 30 second commercial rates at 2.8 to 3 million dollars per spot. The list of expected advertisers for the February 6, 2011 Super Bowl between the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers includes many repeat advertisers as well as a few new sponsors.

Expected advertisers this year include (27 in total):
  • Paramount
  • Universal Pictures
  • Best Buy
  • ETrade
  • Anheuser Busch
  • CarMax
  • Mercedes-Benz
  • Coca-Cola
  • Disney
  • Audi
  • BMW
  • Bridgestone
  • PepsiMax
  • Pizza Hut
  • CareerBuilder
  • Chrysler-Dodge
  • HomeAway
  • Doritos
  • Hyundai
  • Kia, Mars
  • Skechers,
  • Relativity Media
  • Teleflora
  • Sony Picture
  • Volkswagen.

Happy viewing!

» Next article: Super Bowl Biggest Upsets Ever.
« Previous article: Bath Salts Abuse.

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Advertising Statistics such as this provides us useful information on how effective a particular marketing strategy is.

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