Commentary on Super Bowl Commercials
It’s the day after the biggest advertising day of the year, the 53rd Super Bowl LIII. Here are a few advertising stats on the 2019 event:
- Host network CBS charged a record $5.25 million for a 30-second ad during this year’s game.
- A total of 54 advertisers shelled out $5.25 million for 30 seconds of screen time during the Super Bowl this year, adding up to 93 ads in total.
Today is largely “national hangover day” since it’s the Monday after the Super Bowl. It’s hard for most of us to remember much of anything about Sunday’s game, especially that brand of cleaning solution whose ad aired in the third quarter.
Alcohol brands and automobiles have arguably the largest budgets when it comes to allocating it towards media buys, creative, production, and paying a celebrity for their time and involvement endorsing said product. But even a great commercial must be something Joe sitting on the couch at home can remember.
The competition for attention is incredibly steep; every advertiser in the program lineup has paid top dollar to put their best foot forward with their 15-30 seconds designed to capture their viewer’s attention. Traditionally, TV commercials have largely been about brand awareness (as opposed to ROI). Which is why the Super Bowl is the most advantageous day for well-known brands to continue to solidify the position they occupy in the consumer’s mind.
Are Super Bowl ads worth it?
Everyone has their opinion on which commercials were great and which weren’t. But I thought instead it would be more interesting to evaluate how many ads enlisted the help of a familiar face in the form of a celebrity.
My hypothesis is that commercials are more memorable when it involves someone you recognize. Therefore, I predict this year, more advertisers will use celebrities. It begs the question: are Super Bowl Ads worth it? In my opinion, it’s worth it if the ad causes the audience to remember your brand or it reinforces your existing branding.
I kept track of every commercial break noting the brand name and if any famous people were involved in the commercial as a main actor or cameo. For this experiment, I considered a celebrity to be anyone who was in a TV show, a famous athlete, an actor in a movie, or a musical artist. I didn’t count any promos for a CBS TV show because it goes without saying, any network would have aired their TV lineup if it had been their turn to host the broadcast on their network. I wanted to get the purest count of paying advertisers during the broadcast who used celebrities.
Let’s see how many ads leveraged the power of a familiar face by incorporating celebrities into their ad. I’ll bet it’s more than you think.
Notes & General disclaimers:
*Please excuse any typos in my spreadsheet below; this was mostly for fun and I was also slightly more concerned about not dropping spinach artichoke dip on my MacBook Pro. 😀
*To clarify: animals can be celebrities too. There were a handful of ads that leveraged well known animals; the GOT dragon in BudLight, the Dalmatian and Clydesdale horses in the Anheuser- Busch commercial, and Mercedes mentioned Lassie.
*Every space denotes when the commercial break started/ended. Brand names that advertised within that quarter are listed in the first column.
*Celeb = 1 means there was one or more celebrities present in the ad. 0 means no celeb was used.
|Brand name Q1||Celebrity/ General observations||Celeb|
|Bon viv sparkling water||no celeb||0|
|m n m||celeb bud I couldn’t place her quickly enough||1|
|hulu||handmaden tail – celebs||1|
|bumble ad||serina williams – don’t wait to make first move||1|
|Hyundai||car – jason bateman||1|
|Turkish airlines||The Journey – ridley scott film||0|
|OLAY||sarah michele gellar- spoof horor movie scene; face unlock||1|
|goldent retreiver dog||0|
|Pepsi half time show||TV bump||0|
|Marvel||captain marvel. Lindsey lohan||1|
|Bud Light||new version of thei rperiod ads. Returning Corn syrup – whole idea is it’s not brewed w/ corn syrup||0|
|fast and furious producers: Hobs & Shaw||movie trailer – the rock, handsome rob||1|
|Expensify||rap video; need receipts for the is video – guy from parks and rec||1|
|CBS show: FBI||0|
|Pepsi||Steve Carell , Cardi B , lil john||1|
|Simpli Safe||robots doing our jobs||0|
|T mobile||giant long text message||0|
|Audi||grandpa & son, – choaking on cashew nut. Surprise but not memorable||0|
|Brand name Q2||Celebrity/ General observations|
|Bud Light||GOT season finalie (HBO)||1|
|avocados from mexico||dog show||0|
|CBS show bump||Worlds Best||0|
|Google translate||most translated words: hello, thank you, I love you||0|
|Mercedes||lassi get help; if only everything In life listened to you||1|
|pro clean||deep clean. Waste of money||0|
|Tmobile||she drives me crazy song w/ taco bell||0|
|Toyota||toni harris female athlete – Rav 4 hybrid||1|
|Planters peanuts||Charlie Sheen, A rod.||1|
|Norwegean cruse line||0|
|CBS bump – Star Treck tv spin off||on spock||0|
|CBS twilight zone bump||0|
|Turbo tax||robo child; all CPA’s are live people. You’ll never be emotionally complex for the job||0|
|Stella Artoi||Terry Bradshaw, the Dude, XX Man cameo – ” the dude abides”||1|
|Sprint||Bo Jackson (good for guys but I didn’t know who he was)||1|
|CBS bump||bionic arm violinist||0|
|CBS bump||young sheldon||0|
|CBS bump||God friended me||0|
|Xfinity||(too safe) the future of awesome||0|
|(right before half time)|
|NFL 100 year||football fumble off cake, branding play at a dinner party and football is loose||1|
|Pepsi half time hsow||IBM watson drone “love” “one”||0|
|Big Boi – outkast ; I love the way you move|
|Toyota subra||it’s back. Sports car||0|
|ADT||home security; home flipping twins / celebs||1|
|Grammys||TV bump – Alisha Keys||0|
|Toyota||college grad buyatoyota.com||0|
|CBS sports bump||0|
|Celebrity cruise line||0|
|(replay) Mass Mutual||0|
|DCU||who is this?Local ad?||0|
|Bubly||Michael Buble – sparkling water||1|
|NCIS bumper||TV bump||0|
|Brand name Q3||Celebrity/ General observations|
|Tmobile||free lyft ride||0|
|Wix||karkie ross (redone)||1|
|Netflix||One Planet – animals. looks awesome||0|
|Michelob beer||it’s only worth it if you can enjoy it – robot||0|
|Verizon||it’s our job to make sure they get the call; nfll coach||1|
|Grammys||Alisha keys hosts||0|
|“jobs for veterans J225”||0|
|Amazon prime||original content Hanna||1|
|Bud Light||driving home not made w corn syrup||0|
|CBS bump for their show||0|
|CBS bump||The Neighborhood||0|
|CBS grammys bump||0|
|Chevvy||a little but country a bit rock and roll||0|
|Dietz Nuts||celeb – craig robinson. Funny||1|
|Brand name Q4||Celebrity/ General observations|
|Microsoft||playing video games. They teased it online prior to superbowl||0|
|WeatherTech cup phone||0|
|BudLight||not made with corn syrup||0|
|Verizon||first responders; shorter version||0|
|Budwieser||dalmation; brewed with wind power||1|
|CBS||big bang theory – last season Thursday||0|
|amazon||forest whitker, harrison ford, great one –||1|
|Michelob||beer organic form – hawaii ASMR zoe kravitz||1|
|Late show promo||0|
|T mobile||texting conversation||0|
|The Washington Post||knowing empowers us||0|
|Amazon||bit more of the same commercial – what does it mean: not every one makes the cut?||1|
Observations: half of the Super Bowl ads featured a known person or animal
Out of 54 advertisers, I counted 27 ads that ran during the game that used a celebrity or well-known animal personality. That’s about half. Which means half of the ads on the biggest advertising day of the year leveraged some type of recognizable person with which to associate their brand.
I think this is a growing trend because when it comes to advertising — yes, it’s expensive — which is why brands need to tap into the immediate effects of facial recognition and positive association with people who are funny/ cool/ cute/ and inspirational.
So, are Super Bowl ads effective?
Celebrity endorsements are nothing new. But the prominence of how many advertisers built their creative spots around this tactic so that their ad would have the greatest impact during the time when their audience has the shortest attention span confirms the effectiveness of this strategy.
When it comes to Super Bowl Sunday the audience is always going to be incredibly distracted whether they’re watching at home and using their mobile phone or at a loud bar. Brands have two options to make their game day ads count: make us remember you OR remind us who you are.
The most familiar face in football: Tom Brady. Congrats on your 6th win, Patriots!
The opinions expressed in this post are mine and not those of my employer.