At $4.8 million per 30 seconds, advertisers go all in for the Super Bowl

Celebrity, comedy, cars and cute animals continue to dominate Super Bowl advertising.

(SKITTLES HANDOUT) – The Super Bowl advertisers are betting nearly $5 million (USD) and up, per spot, that they can turn Super Bowl 50 viewers into product consumers.

This year, advertisers are using tried and true marketing techniques to try to connect with the massive television audience. For many advertisers, celebrity and comedy have proven to be the most successful formula to engage viewers.

Skittles has Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, Hyundai has heartthrob Ryan Reynolds and Snickers has put tough-guy actor Willem Dafoe in a dress.

Celebrity fees, production costs and the cost of airtime all add up to an expensive investment for advertisers wanting to be seen in the National Football League’s (NFL) championship game.

“It cost about $4.8 million (USD) and up to buy a 30-second spot in the Super Bowl; up from about $4.6 million last year and we see some advertisers like Anheuser-Busch for Budweiser and Bud Light buying multiple spots,” said Advertising Age TV reporter, Jeanine Poggi.

This year, Anheuser-Busch is scheduled to air three and a half minutes of ads. The Budweiser brand appeared in the first Super Bowl in 1975 and will appear this year as well. Bud Light, the official beer of the NFL, will continue is more than 30-year Super Bowl tradition. Anheuser-Busch’s Michelob ULTRA will return to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2010 and Shock Top will make its first appearance in the game.

Over the past 50 years, along with the Super Bowl, advertising and marketing has also grown.

Fifty years ago, during the very first Super Bowl, a 30 second TV ad sold for $42,000 and the audience was so small, the football stadium had 33,000 empty seats. Tickets for the game went for a top price of $12 and college marching bands supplied most of the entertainment.

A lot has changed since then. Last year, more than 114 million people watched the Super Bowl inside the U.S.

Poggi said as the audience grows, so do the advertising costs.

“It’s a couple of million each year it seems like. It was about $4.6 (million) last year, so it keeps ticking up each year as the viewership gets bigger and bigger.”

In addition to commercial laughs, some Super Bowl advertisers are using the airtime to address serious concerns.

Budweiser will take on drunk driving with a stern message from Helen Mirren and Colgate toothpaste will highlight the millions of gallons of water wasted while people brush their teeth with the tap running.

There will also be a lot of newcomers to the game.

“We’re seeing lots of brands like, big names, names like Amazon and Colgate who have never advertised in the Super Bowl before, coming in. And then you’re seeing a lot of smaller brands: names like, Quicken Loans, SoFi, SunTrust. Just a bunch of smaller brands really looking to come and be a part of the big game, more so than we’ve seen in the last couple of years,” said Poggi.

Poggi also explained why $5 million dollars per 30 spot in the Super Bowl is a worthy investment for many companies.

“I think a lot more people these days are really watching (the Super Bowl) for the commercials which is exciting and great given that there’s not a whole lot of places in TV where people want to watch commercials. You see people binge-watching TV shows, going on Netflix where there are no ads. So for people to actually come and want to watch ads, I think it’s really, really rare right now.”

Kia Motors is one of many automakers hoping to stand out in the Super Bowl field.

“First of all we’re launching an all new vehicle, it’s the Optima, so we want to spread the word there. But we’re also leveraging social media,” said Kia Motors Chief Operating Officer Michael Sprague.

Kia Motors said it wants to motivate people to act after seeing its commercial featuring actor Christopher Walken and a pair of socks.

“They’re talking about Kia, they’re talking about our campaign, they’re talking about Christopher Walken, they’re talking about a lot of different things and we’re bringing it all back to the Kia brand. Ultimately, what we want people to do, one, recognize the brand, raise the awareness, two, go to, learn more about our cars, three, go into our dealership, take a test drive and four, ultimately buy the vehicle.”

It will not be only cars and celebrities in the Super Bowl. Cute animals will also make their fair share of appearances. Heinz has a running pack of “hot” dogs and Honda has a herd of singing sheep.

As for the program in between the commercials, the Carolina Panthers will play the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7 in Santa Clara, California.