By Barry Janoff
January 15, 2015: With Super Bowl XLIX just about two weeks away, there is no lack of number crunching when it comes to ad spend and deciphering what all those numbers mean to brands, marketing and ROI.
Labeling it the "most expensive commercial time on television by far," marketing, research and analytic company Kantar Media said that from 2005-2014, the Super Bowl generated $2.19 billion of network advertising sales from more than 130 marketers, "making it one of the most valuable sports franchises in the U.S."
Super Bowl XLVIII, played in MetLife Stadium (home venue for the New York Giants and New York Jets), generated a record $331.8 million in ad revenue for broadcast network Fox. In comparison, The seven-game World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals, also on Fox, generated $257 million in ad revenue, according to Kantar Media.
During the period covering Super Bowl XXXIX to Super Bowl XLVIII, the average rate for a 30-second spot increased by 75%. Some half-minute slots went for upward of $4.2 million on Fox last year during its broadcast of Super Bowl XLVIII, according to New York-based Kantar Media.
The record $331.8 figure should be surpassed this year on NBC, which has gotten as much as $4.5 million for 30-seconds of airtime, according to industry analysts, for the game in the University of Phoenix Stadium on Feb. 1.
The number of commercials this year also should surpass Super Bowl XLVIII when 83 spots aired, the second-lowest total since Super Bowl XXXIX (76). The running time was a combined 49 minutes and 15 seconds, meaning both totals were down from Super Bowl XLVII, when CBS had 97 spots that ran a total of 51 minutes and 40 seconds.
However, according to Kantar Media, the spike in ad time for the 2013 “Blackout Bowl” in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans was due in part to CBS' decision to re-run a commercial pod that first aired just after the game was halted by a stadium power outage. "CBS was unsure whether its broadcast signal survived the blackout and as a precaution for the affected advertisers it re-aired their commercials later in the game," according to Kantar.
Over the past five games — Super Bowl XLIV through Super Bowl Super Bowl XLVIII — the top five ad spenders totaled $456.6 million, led by Anheuser-Busch InBev, which spent $152.5 million during that period as the exclusive category broadcast partner.
The next four: Chrysler Group ($89.5 million), PepsiCo ($76.6 million), Hyundai ($69.8 million) and Volkswagen ($68.1 million).
PepsiCo's Pepsi brand is in the midst of a multi-year deal as title sponsor of the Super Bowl Halftime Show, this year starring Katy Perry, which Kantar said could generate about $7.3 million in media value for the brand based on signage, text and verbal mentions.
Last year, $113 million was spent by 11 different car brands, accounting for more than a quarter of the total ad time in the game, per Kantar.
This year, however, Volkswagen is among the auto brands that said it would not have a media buy during Super Bowl XLIX. Among the others: Acura, General Motors, Honda, Jaguar and Lincoln.
Among those that will have air time: BMW — back in the Big Game for the first time in four years — Kia, Toyota's Camry and Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Nissan.
“As one in three Americans will tune in to watch the Super Bowl, we are thrilled to use this platform to educate viewers on the importance of electric mobility,” Trudy Hardy, vp-marketing for BMW of North America, said in a statement. “Big ideas like the BMW i3 take a little getting used to, and the creative idea surrounding our spot will play on this analogy.”
But the Super Bowl is not just for veterans, with Kantar Media citing that NBC says it has sold time to 15 first-time participants (either companies or specific brands), including Carnival, Loctite, Mophie and Wix. That would be up from nine first-time participants in 2014.
“There is no bigger stage than the Super Bowl for telling our story, and we’re excited about the opportunity to start a new dialogue with consumers about cruising and use their input in helping us pick the creative concepts,” Arnold Donald , CEO for Carnival Corp., said in a statement. "Our goal is to convince those who have never cruised to give us a chance to show them why over 10 million people a year sail on one of our nine brands and why so many of our guests cannot wait to sail with us again.”
Social media has also continued to increase its presence in messaging for cars, candy, beer and other assorted goods. Hashtags have overtaken URLs as the most popular "call to action," according to Kantar, with 60% of paid ads (33 of 55) last year containing a hashtag as compared to 54% in 2013.
Rookie Super Bow advertiser Wix.com — which helps people to build Web and mobile sites — has a hashtag in its tag line: #ItsThatEasy. Wix.com has five NFL icons — Larry Allen, Brett Favre (pictured), Franco Harris Terrell Owens and Emmitt Smith — for the campaign, which includes a Super Bowl buy and a heavy dose of social media.
Carnival has been asking people to visit its Web site to vote on which among several spots should wire during Super Bowl XLIX. Frito-Lays, a division of PepsiCo, is in the seventh season of "Crash the Super Bowl," which also directs people to a Web site to vote from among worldwide entries for the best-in-class.
Citing figures from Twitter, Kantar said that more than 24.9 million tweets were sent about Super Bowl XLVIII and the Pepsi Halftime Show with Bruno Mars.
Concurrently, there were about 583,000 tweets relating to ads appearing during the game. Kantar said this figure does not include the Twitter conversation for a post-game spot from Esurance in which the company offered a $1.5 million giveaway to a viewer who tweeted a prespecified hashtag.
Esurance reported 5.4 million hashtag uses, according to Kantar.
This year, Jumbow.com, an online platform that uses crowd-funding to benefit charities, is also among those tying into the event with social media. Although not buying time on-air, it is working with NFL quarterback Drew Brees and the Brees Dream Foundation to offer a VIP experience at Super Bowl XLIX.
"The Super Bowl is such an incredible event but not everyone can go to the game for $10 while at the same time helping those in need," said Brees in a statement. "Working with Jumbow to offer this experience package allows the Brees Dream Foundation to continue with its global mission."
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