When is a Superbowl commercial worth it?

CBS announced last week that the average cost of a Superbowl commercial this year is $4.4 million.  That’s right $4.4 million for a single :30 second spot or $146,667 per second.

So who buys these spots, and more importantly, why?

There are essentially 2 groups of advertisers that pony up that kind of cash for a single spot.  Group one are the guys ranked among the top 200 advertisers that come close to spending billions in advertising every year, and ironically enough we’ve even come to expect that we will see certain advertisers during the Superbowl.  These are players like Budwesier, McDonalds, GM, Ford, Pepsi, Coke that have become almost a staple during the event.  The others are the “Hopefuls” that are looking for a single ad to make them a household name.  The most memorable of these for me was the Godaddy 2005 Super Bowl commercial.


This was the commercial that catapulted GoDaddy’s brand, and set the stage for over a decade of so-called  “GoDaddy Girls” in Super Bowl appearances.  But all things must come to an end, and in December of 2015 GoDaddy announced that they will not run a commercial in this year’s SuperBowl.  Whether this was financially motivated, or the company truly is aiming for a ‘more targeted brand of marketing’ as they have publicly stated is a truth that only a handful of executives will ever know.

Regardless, for the rest of us there is a lesson to be learned here.  Too often we make advertising decisions based on ego or personal “gut” instincts rather than the facts.  The reality is that unless you are one of those top 200 advertisers with global brands that have monthly advertising budgets that would dwarf most companies annual expenditures there are likely choices in your current 2016 advertising calendars that are not the best use of your resources.  This year commit to yourself to review the data behind each choice and document their impact on your bottom line.  You owe it to yourself to audit your decisions.  Success leaves a trail, but you have to look back to see it.