Is a Super Bowl Ad a good or bad investment for your brand?

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

A few years ago, I would have said that “the NFL can do no wrong”. With all that has gone wrong in the past few years, I will now alter that statement to say “the NFL can do a lot wrong and still get away with it”. This year’s Super Bowl will be charging up to $5 Million for a 30 second TV ad. As a Brand Leader, you should balance your media choices by looking at media efficiency, quality, impact and fit with the brand.

Media Math

The efficiency of the media math starts with reach and frequency. Reach is the number or percent of different household or persons the ad will be exposed to at least once, over a specific period, while frequency is the number of times that household or person who are exposed to the ad within a particular period of time. Be careful relying on efficiency alone, balancing the efficiency with the quality of the media choices.

Be careful getting too fixated on efficiency. I always set aside about ten percent of my media budget to drive high impact to can create early attention to a new campaign or look at an innovative media choice that matches up to the innovation I might be launching.

Budget is always a good starting point for your media planning. You should think of media decisions as a business investment, that you feel you can move consumer along their journey and put your brand on a pathway to higher growth, more power, and profit. So, what are you investing behind?

NFL Ad Rates

While all the news about the NFL this year sounds crazy, the question we should be asking: “Is advertising during the Super Bowl a good investment for a brand?”



I don’t have an updated chart, but in the past 12 months, the stock market is way up, while the NFL viewership is down 7%, even though we are being told that advertising dollars are still strong for the NFL.

Super Bowl versus The Big Bang Theory

One of the most highly rated TV shows is the Big Bang Theory, recently drawing 17 million viewers and charging approximately $350,000 for a 30-second spot for a media cost of 2.1 cents per viewer. Arguably, a TV ad run during the Big Bang Theory will be part of a 12-week campaign, allocating the cost of production over that 12 weeks, increasing the total cost per viewer up to 2.2 cents per viewer. 

The Super Bowl is expected to draw 125 million viewers, charging $5,000,000 for a 30-second spot for a media cost of 4.2 cents per viewer. A Super Bowl ad will be the first and likely the only time that ad is run, which means we would have to add in the production costs for the Ad, moving the total cost up from $5 million to around $6 million (assumes a production cost of $1 million, but could be up to $5 million), which increases the total cost per viewer up 4.8 cents per viewer. 

Super Bowl Consumers are Paying Attention to the Ads

I would argue that a well-done Super Bowl ad brings a Bigger Impact on the market. First, with the Super Bowl ads, many people now “watch the ads” as much as they watch the games. If you assume that the consumer engagement on the Super Bowl ads is double the Big Bang Theory, then we have a relative tie in the cost per viewer. On top of that, the Super Bowl ads that go viral add another 10-30 million viewers after the game, making the total cost per viewer much more efficient. We aren’t even measuring the talk value at the lunchroom table on Monday when people gush over the cuteness of the Budweiser dog or laugh as they re-tell the Doritos ad. 

Compared to other video media options, the Super Bowl ads at 4.8 cents per viewer are still cheaper than the 7.5 cents per view that YouTube charges or the 9 cents per view that Facebook charges.

When to use a Super Bowl Ad

Marketing Execution has to make your brand stronger. It has to create a bond with consumers who connect with the soul of the brand, it establishes your brand’s reputation based on a distinct positioning and it influences consumers to alter their behavior to think, feel or act, making the brand more powerfully connected, eventually leading to higher sales, share, and profit. Too many ads on the Super Bowl seem to be playing the game, hoping that broad awareness helps your brand. To me, broad awareness is never enough of a reason to spend money. When I was running marketing teams, and someone came to me with “drive awareness”, I’d cross it out and ask for something more.

4 reasons you should advertise in the Super Bowl

  1. You are already a beloved brand, that can connect with your consumer base to make them feel more emotionally connected to your brand so that you tighten the bond further. This tighter bond will help drive further growth and profits in the future.  
  2. You are an established brand, with a significant product launch or a new brand positioning that you want to draw quick attention to, knowing that it will trigger the search and potential purchases.  
  3. You are an impulse product that could use advertising to trigger those consumer impulses during the game. This would be the fit for the Snickers or Doritos marketing strategy, so consumers want more. You can use the Super Bowl as the kicking off point to a new campaign that you might run all spring. 
  4. The other reason for Super Bowl advertising might be to keep up with your competition. Last year, there were 10 car brands that advertised, many didn’t break through. 

Bad Creative makes it a completely wasted investment

Every year, you can divide the Super Bowl ads into three groups. There will be 10% great, 40% good and 40% really bad. If you are in the last two groups, your investment will not pay off.

With a highly engaged Super Bowl crowd, you cannot just show your average TV ad, or you risk being booed at a Super Bowl Party like this spot by a very small brand, Jublia, for foot fungus. Boring product demos?  On the Super Bowl?  Really. Wow. They should have saved this type of Creative for 3 am on CNN when no one is watching. Can you imagine spending $5 Million on this?

Another bad ad came from “Go Daddy” a few years ago. I will say this brand takes a lot of chances, however, this one is not based on the right insight. Everyone, including small business people, is watching the game. No consumers ever want to be portrayed as the lonely loser. 


A Super Bowl ad can be a great investment for the right strategy and execution

At Beloved Brands, we run workshops to train marketers in all aspects of marketing from strategic thinking, analysis, writing brand plans, creative briefs and reports, judging advertising and media. To see a WORKSHOP ON MARKETING EXECUTION, click on the Powerpoint presentation below:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth and profitability you will realize in the future.

The best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique engagement tools are the backbone of our strategy workshops. These tools will force you to think differently so you can freely generate many new ideas. At Beloved Brands, we bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We help brands find growth

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a big idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand. Finally, the big idea must influence employees to personally deliver an outstanding consumer experience, to help move consumers along the journey to loving your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources. We work with your team to build out project plans, creative briefs and provide advice on marketing execution.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

We make Brand Leaders smarter

We believe that investing in your marketing people will pay off. With smarter people behind your brands will drive higher revenue growth and profits. With our brand management training program, you will see smarter strategic thinking, more focused brand plans, brand positioning, better creative briefs that steer your agencies, improved decision-making on marketing execution, smarter analytical skills to assess your brand’s performance and a better management of the profitability of the brand.

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at or call me at 416 885 3911

Beloved Brands Graham Robertson