NBC last week announced that advertising space on the 2021 Super Bowl was close to sold-out, with just a few spots remaining. Prices are up dramatically this year, with a thirty-second spot going for $6.5 million.
This is an enormous change from last year, when CBS had to scramble to unload advertising time, and the Super Bowl was notable for the big brands that didn’t show up: Budweiser, Hyundai, Pepsi, Coke and more.
There are several factors driving this change.
The Super Bowl has long been the most important marketing event in the United States for two reasons. First, it has broad reach; viewership is about 100 million people. No other show comes even close to this figure.
Second, people pay attention to the Super Bowl, and in particular to the advertising. This makes it an unusual opportunity; people have become very skilled at avoiding ads. The Super Bowl is particularly notable because people watch Super Bowl ads that go on for thirty seconds or sixty seconds or more. On many platforms these days, the advertising window is perhaps five or six seconds, and people avoid even that.
The growth of streaming and social media use during the pandemic has accelerated these trends. The Super Bowl is more important than ever.
The 2021 Super Bowl was a strange event. The stadium was largely empty. Masks were everywhere. There was a chance the game would have to be delayed. The half-time show, featuring The Weekend, was socially distanced, without the usual mass of screaming fans. There weren’t even many Super Bowl parties.
Viewership was down. Even the Kellogg Super Bowl Ad Review went to Zoom. It was a tough environment for advertisers, too. What sort of creative works in a pandemic?
It looks like 2022 will be back to normal, with fans, a big half-time show and all the rest.
Many firms are in the unusual position of looking at higher than normal marketing budgets. Part of this comes from earnings; companies that are doing well have the resources to invest in marketing. Part of this is due to cost savings. Firms are saving money on travel and events and can redirect these savings to marketing.
This summer we had a taste of life post-COVID. It was a glorious time, as people flocked to events, spent money, and generally had a grand time of it.
Unfortunately, that spirit didn’t last. Vaccine hesitancy has proven to be a major challenge, and the Delta variant is leading to higher case counts and hospitalizations. Employment is rebounding slowly.
Still, there is reason to think that 2022 will be better. This will lead to another resurgence in spending and companies want to be part of that.
I grew up outside of Buffalo, so I’ve been cheering for the Buffalo Bills for years. Many people think Buffalo has a good chance of making it to the Super Bowl, despite the rather poor showing last weekend. In my opinion, having the Buffalo Bills in the Super Bowl would make it a particularly attractive event for advertisers. Everyone loves the Bills.