Super Bowl 51 Generates Big Money, Conversation

The New England Patriots weren’t the only winners on Sunday night. Super Bowl 51 generated $432.4 million in national advertising sales and more than $500 million in total day national television advertising for Fox, reports to, and those numbers beat expectations.

Fox’s Super Bowl ad haul came from 89 spots from 62 brands airing 91 times. The broadcaster charged $5 million for each 30-second commercial. In 2016, the average cost of a Super Bowl ad was $4.8 million. Its biggest spender was T-Mobile, at $30 million, followed by Alfa-Romeo at $20 million and Tide and 84 Lumber, both at $15 million.

Advertising is an intrinsic part of the Super Bowl experience. A survey by PR firm Burson-Marsteller’s Fan Experience sports and entertainment group found that 53 percent of Super Bowl viewers said they would be disappointed if it was aired without commercials, up from 48 percent last year. More than two-thirds of respondents were more favorable toward brands with good commercials, versus just sponsoring the Super Bowl, and 60 percent of viewers and 87 percent of social media users were interested in the additional online content brands produce alongside their television commercials.

Super Bowl advertising has a long history of featuring a political or social issue undercurrent, and 2017’s ads were no exception. While advertisers like Anheuser-Busch InBev and 84 Lumber stressed the larger themes behind their commercials, others, like Airbnb and Audi, focused their spots on more specific issues. Burson-Marsteller’s survey found that 82 percent of viewers and 89 percent of Millennials say it is important that advertisers demonstrate how they are giving back to their community in their Super Bowl advertising, and that 78 percent of viewers and 86 percent of Millennials also value environmental consciousness in the marketing campaigns.

Brands didn’t only put significant investment into producing their ads, they spent heavily promoting them as well. With ads running $5 million per 30 seconds, companies are spending as much as 25 percent more on promoting them. In part, the additional promotional costs are reflected in the marketing campaigns that tease and release ads weeks ahead of the big game.

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