How much is too much? The cost of a 30-second Super Bowl spot has doubled since 2010, from $2.5 million to $5.5 million for the upcoming game. So clearly, the value of advertising on television’s biggest night is still very much in play. But the airtime is only the beginning of calculating the cost of being a Super Bowl advertiser. Cost of the creative, production, digital support and the all-important PR push adds up pretty quickly — you’re at $10 million in a snap. High profile Super Bowl brand favorites like Taco Bell, Frito Lay, Butterfinger and Toyota are staying on the sidelines this year, and Fox still had room in its lineup this month.
What’s behind the reticence? Is the benefit worth the high price of admission? Data shows that Super Bowl ads are, well, super for new product launches, and since Toyota doesn’t have a new car launch until the spring, it’s passing on the opportunity this year, according to Jack Hollis, Group VP for Toyota Motor Sales USA. But the reasons for the slower-to-fill up slots run deeper than that. The noticeable drop in the NFL’s TV ratings (8 percent drop in 2016 compared to 2015, according to ESPN) is a factor. Then there’s the ever-increasing competition for ad dollars across the growing media landscape; some unease and uncertainty in the election aftermath about where we are as a nation economically, globally and culturally – brands are playing it cautious, afraid of misreading the national mindset — and the enduring difficulty of quantifying with any real accuracy ROI on these pricey spots add up to some real second thoughts about $5.5 million.
My prediction is for more brands than ever to play the powerful social media card, capitalizing on Super Bowl hype without paying the big price. And, of course, the ‘rejected’ spots are always fun – being declined for inappropriate content rarely fails to draw eager eyeballs. Hey, it’s all part of the game.