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Super Bowl Advertising – Is It Worth the Money?

When it comes to the Super Bowl, certain things race to mind. For example, the fact that it’s more than just a game of football. Every year, 256 games of football take place in the NFL season. However, none of them quite compare to the Super Bowl. In 2021, the Buccaneers were victorious, and Tom Brady cemented his place among the legends of the sport with his seventh NFL championship ring (in case he hadn’t already!). But there are other reasons the Super Bowl is a global phenomenon; this includes the half-time show and the advertising. 

Back in 2002, companies paid an average of $2.2 million for an advertising spot during the Super Bowl. Nearly two decades later, this figure is now at around $5.5 million. Of course, 2020 was a unique year, and this affected advertising during the sport’s biggest game. The average price for Super Bowl ads was down in 2021 compared to a year earlier, but this still isn’t an amount that a new startup can afford for 30 seconds of exposure. 

All of this begs one question – is Super Bowl advertising really worth it? When a company spends $5.5 million for 30 seconds of ad space during the game, do they actually enjoy a return on this amount? 

The Numbers 

When watching ordinary TV, most people ignore the adverts. They go and make a drink, go to the toilet, look at their phones, or do anything else they can to not watch them. Yet, the picture with the Super Bowl is completely different because the sporting event has a history of amazing advertisements. Back in 2016, a survey on CNBC revealed that a huge percentage of people agree or strongly agree that Super Bowl ads are enjoyable…this huge percentage was 97%. 

In recent years, Doritos and Budweiser have risen to the top of the Super Bowl advertising game. While the former creates commercials around the product, Budweiser normally tells a story with its commercials using relatable everyday items – who can forget the classic lost dog Budweiser commercial? 

As well as enjoying a boost during the event itself, historical data suggests that Super Bowl ads generate increased sales throughout the year. Interestingly, spikes tend to occur during other big sporting events. For example, this includes the new MLB season, March Madness, and the end of the NBA season. Even weeks after the Super Bowl, Budweiser has reported a near 5% increase in revenue. 

The numbers speak for themselves. The Super Bowl is undoubtedly a big enough event that can give a significant boost in terms of product marketing, and it seems to have only grown bigger with the advent of technology.

Naturally, technological advancements have been made in the sports world, with services that can build digital media assets for sports teams and online marketing being used to promote sports events, products, and services. In that same way, instead of weakening the hype for the Super Bowl, technology has only spread its reach further, with people sharing news about it online and certain platforms allowing more people access to watch the event live. Consequently, this means that Super Bowl ads get to enjoy broader exposure too.

The Result – Is Super Bowl Advertising Worth the Money? 

For larger companies, they must see a good enough return on the investment otherwise they wouldn’t keep doing it. Budweiser, Doritos, and plenty of other brands return year after year. Although sales are important, this isn’t the sole definition of success for a Super Bowl advert. For example, some companies pay heavy fees because they want to be involved in the conversation. They know that some people watch the Super Bowl because of the advertising alone, and they want to be mentioned alongside the big names. For a small company like mine, this advertising option is out of the question. I invest a small amount of money each month into digital advertising and I tripled my organic traffic with King Kong and their SEO and PPC services. While this may not be as glamorous as a Super Bowl ad, it is cost-effective for a small business like mine. 

On that note, though small businesses may not be able to pay for Super Bowl ads, they can still get some marketing in by riding on the Super Bowl hype. More often than not, something interesting or noteworthy usually happens during the event, so small businesses could make a post or an ad on their social media page the next day that references it. If the Super Bowl is trending on a site like Twitter, they could post an ad or even a meme that’s relevant to it—of course, without forgetting the hashtag.

This is a tactic many brands use when something is trending online. Some posts go viral; some don’t. But, ultimately, there’s always the chance that their post reaches people who might not normally see their business’s content.


So, with millions of people watching around the world, Super Bowl advertising has tremendous reach and is possibly the most valuable 30 seconds of advertising on TV. With the right commercial, it generates exposure, leads, and sales, and establishes the brand as a leader in the market. Of course, brands should show caution when planning because the Super Bowl encourages a party atmosphere. They’re watching in bars, watching with friends, and enjoying the game. Therefore, a serious commercial doesn’t have the same impact as light-hearted content.