Super Bowl commercials reach record high price per ad

Kevin CromptonEditor-in-Chief

As I sat watching the painfully uneventful Super Bowl LIII on Sunday, I couldn’t help but think how fitting of a Jerry Seinfeld bit the commercials could make. His iconic voice played in my head: “What’s the deal with Super Bowl commercials?” I mean really, these companies pay millions of dollars for 30 seconds of advertising, and quite frankly, the commercials are terrible.

According to a report by CNBC, CBS which was the network host of Super Bowl LIII, charged a record $5.25 million for a 30 second spot during the game. Last year’s Super Bowl drew 111.3 million views so there is no debate that from a company’s standpoint, a lot of people will see your ad. It goes without saying that the number of viewers is the reason for the hefty price tag. However, is it worth it?

Let’s look at Anheuser-Busch and their Bud Light “Dilly Dilly” campaign. Anheuser-Busch aired four different Bud Light commercials throughout the duration of the Super Bowl. According to CNBC’s $5.25 million per 30 second spot, simple addition would tell us that Anheuser-Busch spent an approximate $21 million on advertising this past Sunday. Considering Anheuser-Busch was a 2017 Fortune 500 company – landing in at No. 170 on the list – $21 million is pocket change to them. However, is their advertising really going to generate more consumers?

Products like Bud Light rely on brand loyal consumers. This means the consumers that purchase Bud Light, only purchase Bud Light because they are loyal to the brand. The objective when advertising when your consumers are extremely brand loyal is not to gain new consumers, but to reinforce their image to the consumers they already have. In addition, the second method when dealing with a brand loyal consumer base is stealing consumers from the competition. On Sunday, this is exactly what Anheuser-Busch set out to do.

All four of the 30 second advertisements that aired for Bud Light stressed the use of corn syrup in competitor light beers such as Coors and Miller Lite while enforcing the message that they do not brew their product with corn syrup. If Anheuser-Busch can get a few million people to switch from Miller-Coors to Bud Light then their $21 million expense for this past Super Bowl might in fact be justifiable.

Another theory is Super Bowl commercials are just simply tradition. Beer and football go together. There’s no denying it has been this way for years. The ads during the big game used to be regarded as the best commercials all year, but that belief has been diminishing each year. Super Bowl commercials are not what they use to be. They are more expensive than ever and they are less entertaining each and every year. The Super Bowl is an American tradition and no matter the price and no matter the quality, outrageously expensive commercials will always go hand-in-hand.

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