Are Super Bowl Ads Worth the Big Bucks?

While it may be cold outside, competition is heating up on FOX Sports. Consumers and marketers alike are anxiously awaiting the biggest marketing occasion of the year, and of course the football game that goes with it.
Because the viewership is so massive, totaling near 108.4 million, the game provides advertisers with an opportunity to spread brand awareness to a huge array of demographics, but only if they can pay up. This year’s 30 second spot has risen to $4 million for 2014. Clearly, the Super Bowl is a playground where only the big boys can play.
The question then becomes, is an ad is actually worth it? According to David Lubars, chairman and chief creative officer for BBDO North America, “The Super Bowl is either the most economical, smart, risk-free thing you can do or the worst mess you can get yourself into.” While it is nearly impossible to calculate the direct payoff from one or two commercials, it seldom nears $4 million, despite the brand. Rather than a direct payback, the Super Bowl becomes an opportunity to project dominance within a market at a time when consumers are particularly susceptible to ads. Because this is the one day that ads are intentionally watched, the game provides in an ideal opportunity for brand development.
Big name brewery, Anheuser-Busch, will continue its annual Super Bowl ad domination, purchasing three spots for Bud Light and two for Budweiser as consumers anticipate the traditional return of the legendary Clydesdales. The  brand benefits by ultimately promoting its legacy as much as its products.
Nestle, on the other hand, is all about the product. The food corporation is proudly using the game to launch its new product to compete with Reese’s, The Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cup. Through the ad, chief Nestle marketers project that consumer awareness on the product will jump from almost nothing to upward of 50% to 80%.
Other game day superpowers, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, are eluting their supremacy in more than their own ads this year. When Sodastream’s ad challenged the big name soda companies with spokesperson, Scarlett Johansson, stating, “Sorry Pepsi and Coke,” the corporate giants, as well as FOX, deemed the ad unacceptable. Because they couldn’t play nice, the network censored the company’s commercial.
So, to sum up Super Bowl advertising: Expensive? No doubt. Worthwhile? Open to interpretation. Regardless, the Super Bowl thrives on competitive spirit that exists not only within the game, but during those commercial breaks as well.
Ad Age Staff. “Super Bowl Ad Chart: Who’s Buying What in Super Bowl 2014.” 30 January 2014. AdAge. 2014. 30 January 2014.
Rivera, Zayda. “Scarlett Johansson’s uncensored SodaStream Super Bowl ad banned by Fox.” 29 January 2014. Daily News. 30 January 2014.
Shultz, E.J. “Under Review: Is Super Bowl Worth $4 Million?” 4 November 2013. Ad Age. 30 January 2014.