Big Brands Are Bailing On The Super Bowl, Because At $4 Million A Spot It's Too Expensive

Super Bowl ad prices have been rising tremendously in the past five years, and in 2014, Fox is reported to be charging $4 million per 30 seconds.

Combined with the return of the 17-day-long Winter Olympics, an event absent since 2010, some big brands like Subway are choosing to opt out of the biggest night in TV.

“You can make an argument that the total cumulative audience across the Winter Olympics is actually bigger than what you are going to get in the Super Bowl,” Subway chief marketing officer Tony Pace told Ad Age.

Nielsen reported that 108.4 million people watched the Super Bowl last year, with 90 percent of the audience in the United States. The 2010 Winter Olympics drew an average of 24.4 million primetime viewers, and had 190 million people watch some of the games on one of NBC Universal’s networks, according to NBC.

Real estate agency Century 21, which advertised in the past two big games, told Ad Age that they rather make an investment in an international audience.

And is skipping the upcoming Super Bowl after six consecutive years in it because they don’t have a new campaign to justify the price tag. “When we launched a new campaign every year through the Super Bowl, you really had to wait until the Super Bowl to start advertising,” CMO Linda Bartman said. They instead want to distribute their ads throughout the year.

This isn’t necessarily part of a bigger trend, or even the start of new habits for these brands.

GM’s former head of marketing Ewanick proclaimed last year that the $3.8 million Super Bowl ad price was an unjustifiable expense, but now that he’s gone, GM is back in the game.

With 85 percent of Fox’s Super Bowl ads sold by the end of August, the rising price of admission wasn’t much of a hindrance to most brands, especially those with big, new campaigns. Anheuser-Busch In-Bev has launched two beers in a row the past two Super Bowls, and this year Nestlé has announced it will be launching a Butterfinger peanut butter cup. SodaStream is also preparing its first official television campaign to compete with Pepsi and Coke.

Super Bowl XLVII will be played at MetLife Stadium on Feb. 2, and the Winter Olympics will begin the following Friday.