Super Bowl Ads: Super Spending, but Super Benefit?

Marketing experts say super bowl ads pay off. 


If you’re like a lot of people, you might never have known that Avocados From Mexico was even a thing if it weren’t for the Super Bowl.  

Over six years, clever, funny and quirky Super Bowl ads featured celebrities like Molly Ringwald, Kristin Chenoweth, Chris Elliot and Jon Lovitz, and took us from a prehistoric species “draft” to a futuristic museum of extinct humanity. In the process, the Texas-based organization taught millions of Americans that not all bumpy-skinned guacamole-making fruits are created equal.  

In short, they created brand awareness. 

But getting your avocados – or your snack chips, your SUV, your beer or your soft drink – in front of Super Bowl viewers doesn’t come cheap. This year, Super Bowl ads are expected to cost around $5.5 million. For 30 seconds. 

Which leads to the perennial question: Is a Super Bowl commercial worth it? 

Despite the eye-popping costs, the general consensus among marketing experts is: Yes. 

According to Kantar Media, a consulting and data-analysis firm, Super Bowl ads produce immediate sales gains as well as increased brand awareness. 

“ … we’ve found that a Super Bowl ad is typically more than 20 times effective than a typical TV ad when it comes to driving brand perceptions, said Alfredo Troncoso, the firm’s partner for brand and marketing return on investment. 

A 2018 study published in Marketing Science came to a similar conclusionThe benefits from Super Bowl ads persist well into the year with increased sales during other sporting events, such as March Madness. Which, hopefully, will happen this year. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on pretty much everything, and this year’s Super Bowl ads are no exception. Several perennial Super Bowl advertisers, including Coca-Cola and Avocados From Mexico, are taking a pass on the game, some citing financial and social uncertainties caused by the pandemic as reasonsAnheuser-Bush, whose Budweiser Clydesdales have starred in a stable full of Super Bowl ads, will also skip this year, instead donating some of the funds typically spent on ads to vaccine awareness campaigns.  

Which gives us one more thing to look forward to in a post-pandemic world: a return to normalcy in Super Bowl ads. Most analysts expect Super Bowl ads to bounce back and remain as much a fixture as the game itself. Which should be good news for aspiring marketing or communications majors who envision themselves conjuring some of the most popular ads in future Super Bowls. Not to mention business majors who have their sights set on a commission from one or two of those $5.5 million ads. 

There will always be a market for clever marketing. Especially when it pays off.  

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