We are two and a half weeks from the Super Bowl, so it is time to focus on the big event.
The Super Bowl is without question the #1 advertising platform in the United States. One could make the case that it is the most important marketing event in the world.
The game is important for several reasons. First, the audience is enormous. Viewership has bounced around in recent years, but it is almost always in the neighborhood of 100 million people. This is remarkable – there are only 330 million people in the country.
Second, people focus on the advertising. Most people watching the Super Bowl don’t care about the particular teams that are playing. Many viewers don’t care about football at all. For these people, the Super Bowl is simply the thing to do on a cold winter’s evening; nothing else happens on Super Bowl Sunday. For these viewers, the draws are the party and the advertising. For marketers, this is a unique opportunity. People are very good at avoiding advertising. Getting people to sit around waiting to watch the commercials is an astonishing thing.
Third, the Super Bowl is early in the year. Most companies embrace a calendar fiscal year, and this makes February a perfect time for a big marketing push: Budgets are full and there are ten months ahead to bring in the sales. If you want to start the year strong, a Super Bowl ad is a good option.
The Super Bowl has become more important over the years. I’ve been leading the Kellogg Super Bowl Advertising Review for almost twenty years. When the event started, Super Bowl spots were important but many people thought the Super Bowl would lose its appeal over time.
The opposite has happened: the Super Bowl has taken on a far greater significance for marketers over the decades. There is a simple reason for this: the alternatives have collapsed.
If you want to reach a lot of people in the United States, what can you do? Network television? No, network television has crumpled as people rely on streaming. Radio? Magazines? Newspapers? You don’t have to be a media expert to know those have all faded away. Social media? This has become super important for marketers but it doesn’t work well for broad reach.
Big events are a draw, but many of these have faded. The Oscars, for example, used to attract an audience of more than 40 million viewers. In 2021, the audience was down to only about 9 million.
The Super Bowl is the only game in town.
This year’s game will be the biggest advertising event in the history of Super Bowls, with ad time costing $6.5 million for a thirty-second spot. Demand is huge; the ad space was largely sold months ago. The demand is up versus 2021 and the prices are, too. Ads last year were about $5.5 million.
This is a function of the enduring appeal of the Super Bowl, combined with a booming economy and some major new innovations. Crypto investing, on-line betting, electric vehicles – these are all huge new markets and companies are scrambling to secure a piece. A Super Bowl ad can be a key part of the plan.
Look for this year’s game to feature the usual mix of traditional big names and new upstarts, some entertaining and safe creative, and no mention of the virus, masks and quarantines. It should be fun to watch.