Super Bowl Ads: The Other Game On Sunday

The Colts and the Bears aren’t the only competitors with their sights set on Super Bowl Sunday. Dozens of advertisers will also square-off, hoping to win audience with memorable commercials. And if the ad is truly a standout, it could also make headlines the next day. But advertising on the Super Bowl doesn’t come cheap. This year it will cost up to $2.6 million for 30 seconds of airtime during the game. That’s $85,000 a second! Is Super Bowl advertising worth it?

For the past 20 years Anheuser-Buschand Pepsihave been advertising on the Super Bowl, spending nearly $450 million combined. Other big Super Bowl spenders include General Motors,Time Warnerand Disney. In return these companies can expect their ads to be seen by approximately 90 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research

Barbara Lippert, Ad Critic from Ad-Week Magazine, says it's more than just a 30-second commercial spot. “If Anheuser-Bush were not to have its 10 commercials people would think there’s something wrong with the brand,” she said. “It’s just like real estate, like having the Time Warner building. If you can afford it – it’s great for your image.”

“For Anheuser Bush the Super Bowl is the 'Super Bowl' for beer drinking occasions.” added Jon Bond, Co-Founder of Kirshenbaum and Partners. “You got a lot of guys sitting on a couch drinking beer."

"The problem,” he said “is a lot of people are in the Super Bowl for the wrong reasons. I call it Super Bowl envy. They’re sitting around watching the competitors or somebody else on TV and going wow, I wish I had that kind of exposure and ego drives the decision.”

If that's the case, than companies would do better to spend their advertising dollars elsewhere. "There has to be an X factor where you can merchandise a new product," said Bond "or some special reason or PR hit."

Lippert agreed, but added there’s another component that’s important to advertisers. It’s the YouTube factor. “The buy is so extended now,” she said. “These commercials will be rated for days and talked about for days.”

Which ads are likely to perform best?

According to’s Chief Economic Correspondent Martin Wolk, Super Bowl advertisers need humor, animals, celebrities or some combination to be well-liked and effective. “Categories that fit in well with the day’s partying mood do well, experts say. Sober subjects like financial services and pharmaceuticals typically get the thumbs-down.”