Are Super Bowl Ads still Worth the High Price?

Would you risk $3 million dollars on 30 seconds of fame?

It’s not a new game show, it’s a question on the minds of corporate executives who paid NBC for a Super Bowl commercial this year.

High-rollers at Vegas and Wall Street Brokers risk millions each day, and major corporate CMOs bet on the annual TV ratings frenzy known as the Super Bowl. Following annual trends indicates the ratings are virtually guaranteed to be high, but I doubt Super Bowl 43 will draw as many viewers as the New England Patriots vs. New York Giants game last year, which featured an undefeated team and two of the most popular quarterbacks in the league- Tom Brady and Eli Manning.

This year’s game lacks the compelling storyline we had last year, but the Pittsburgh Steelers are one of the most popular teams in the NFL. Then there’s the Arizona Cardinals, a team that’s only won five playoff games, including three this season. (Personally, I hope the Cardinals get their first Lombardi Trophy.)

2009 presents a challenging decision for Corporate VPs at major companies such as Anheuser-Busch, Pepsi, General Motors, Time Warner and FedEx, (the top 5 advertisers in Super Bowl History), who are cutting cost at every corner in the midst of nation-wide layoffs and high unemployment.

A Wall Street Journal article: “Tough Times Complicate the Case for Buying Super Bowl Ads” reported lower demand for Super Bowl ads this year. According to TNS Media Intelligence,the cost of a Super Bowl ad has quadrupled in the past 20 years. To put it into perspective, a 30-second ad only cost $675 grand in 1989.

NBC may set a record for in-game ad revenue, with $200 million.
Dean DeBiase, CEO of TNS Media Intelligence, believes that the total cost for a Super Bowl ad, including production and all other overhead, exceeds the price for the time slot, but the potential reward still outweighs the risk.

There’s the expense of producing elaborate, new commercials for the game and for an increasing number of marketers, there are additional outlays for integrated communications programs intended to leverage their Super Bowl sponsorship.
As the long-term trend of data indicates, the Super Bowl endures as the premier venue for advertising in terms of ad rates and the ability of commercials shown in conjunction with the event to engage and hold viewers.

Maintaining the post-super bowl buzz should become a top priority for marketers. TNS’s Super Bowl Ad-Fact Pack revealed that the media coverage and social chatter about theads peaks the day after the game and fades away within a few days. A week-long teaser campaign on prime time TV could improve brand recognition and increase chatter for a longer duration following the game.

If you love Super Bowl ads more than the game, CBS is hosting a one-hour primetime special the night before Super Bowl Sunday, called: Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials 2009. Tide’s Talking Stain” is competing for the number one spot against nine other popular ads from over the years.

The 10th through fourth place positions will be determined before the show starts and viewers can watch as commentators count down to the number one spot. The top three remaining picks will be revealed during the show at which point viewers will be able to go online to decide which commercial will take home the ultimate title.Viewers can cast their vote at