As millions watched the Kansas Chief’s secure a victory over the Philadelphia Eagles during 2023’s Super Bowl, consumers not only celebrated Rihanna’s baby bump, but also viewed brands ranging from auto, snacks and medical devices.
Of course, every Super Bowl commercial comes with a hefty price tag. This year, the answer to the yearly question— “Super bowl ads cost how much?”—was $7mm for a 30-second TV spot.
The steep price seems outlandish, but when considering the addressable audience, the rationale makes more sense, especially this year.
More than 113mm people watched Super Bowl LVII, making it the second most-watched Big Game ever.
Is $7mm worth the chance to get in front of that many people? From an ROI standpoint, the answer is yes. According to Kantar, Super Bowl ads last year delivered an average ROI of $4.60 per dollar spent.
Who took advantage of this captive audience this year, and how did they do it? MediaRadar tracked ads during the Super Bowl LVII appearing on YouTube TV’s OTT channel to get the data in real-time. Here’s what you need to know about Super Bowl LVII advertising:
Super Bowl LVII Advertising Overview
Advertisers from five categories were responsible for 75% (44 minutes) of the ads during Super Bowl LVII: media & entertainment, technology, food, alcohol, and automotive.
A Media Frenzy
Advertisers for media & entertainment brands dominated the night, with 23 commercials from 13 companies gracing the screens of millions to promote TV shows, game titles, films, and subscription streaming services.
More than half of advertisers leaned into 30-second spots; however, others craved more screen time, including those from Tubi, Warner Bros (AIR), and Universal Pictures (Fast & Furious). Advertisers for these companies bought 60-second spots.
Much of the media & entertainment ads revolved around two things: movie releases and streaming services.
Overall, viewers saw more than five minutes of ads promoting movie releases, including two from The Walt Disney Company to promote Guardians of The Galaxy and Indiana Jones – Dial of Destiny. For Disney, the Super Bowl ads not only promoted its upcoming blockbusters but celebrated 100 years of “storytelling and shared memories.”
A 90-second spot—dubbed Disney100 Special Look—was also at the heart of the celebration. The ad highlighted iconic Disney films, TV series, theme parks, productions, and words and sayings from Walt Disney.
Warner Bros. also used the Super Bowl to generate buzz for its upcoming releases of The Flash (teamed up with Heineken’s non-alcoholic beer) and AIR. The company also ran an ad for Creed 3 (game title).
Early signs point to the company’s Super Bowl ad for The Flash doing its job. According to data from EDO Inc., the commercial drove 24x more engagement than the median Super Bowl ad.
Advertisers for streaming services also continued their torrid spending. In 2022, advertisers from some of the biggest names in the streaming wars collectively spent more than $2.3b, with 61% dedicated to digital media.
During Super Bowl LVII, advertisers for Fox Nation, Netflix (teamed up with GM), Paramount+, and Tubi collectively ran 3.5 minutes of ads. While Netflix rolled out its Will-Ferrell-featured ad, it’s also dealing with early growing pains from its decision to launch an ad-supported tier for the first time since its founding more than two decades ago.
Electric Vehicles & Automotive Advertising
Automotive advertisers are synonymous with the Super Bowl but were noticeably absent on Sunday, including those from Toyota (pickups) and Nissan (EV-Ariya). Advertisers for BMW and Mercedes-Benz were no-shows as well.
Overall, the number of automotive advertisers making an appearance dropped to six. Jeep and RAM were two of them, with each splitting their ad dollars between 30-second and 60-second spots.
According to Christie Schweinsberg, senior editor at WardsAuto.com, the decision to pump the brakes was likely two-fold.
The first reason: inflation.
Schweinsberg said, “Clearly, inflation is an issue. It’s impacting not only everyday Americans but companies such as automakers…every one of them I’m sure is being very careful about their spending on advertising.”
The other reason: there are more cost-effective options.
While Super Bowl ads offer a return if done well, auto advertisers are opting for other platforms, especially when it comes to promoting electric vehicles (EVs).
“The industry needs to … normalize the notion of people driving EVs, or in the case of the Jeeps, plug-in hybrids. That sort of public-service announcement aspect, I think, was done quite well last year,” Schweinsberg added. “I think many [manufacturers] didn’t feel the need to repeat it, at such a high cost just 12 months later.… There are more cost-effective platforms automakers can utilize to promote going electric.”
That said, some auto advertisers did invest, including several who promoted their latest take on EVs.
Ram’s REV 1500 got the spotlight with the company’s funny take on “premature electrification.”
Viewers also saw ads for EVs from Kia and Volkswagen, the latter of which opted for a 30-second spot, “Electric Feels Good,” to showcase its ID Buzz Microbus.
During Super Bowl LVII, 11 food brands, ranging from avocados to food delivery, bought ads, with 82% leaning into 30-second commercials. (The 15-second spot was for M&M’s, which ran in conjunction with a 30-second spot.)
Despite the concerted effort by fitness and health advertisers to fill online and offline channels with ads, especially with New Year’s resolutions still on people’s minds, ads for junk foods still ruled the Super Bowl.
For nearly seven minutes, ads for candy, food delivery, snacks, and soda enticed viewers.
Mars’ M&M’s, the only candy brand advertising during the Super Bowl, appeared with a spot featuring Maya Rudolph that was supposed to clear confusion about the brand’s “spokes candies.” Mars’ multi-million-dollar investment comes on the heels of a year (2022) that saw 315 candy brands spend $308mm.
Despite giving up its status as the official sponsor of the halftime show (Apple Music took over), advertisers for PepsiCo were still on screen for 30% of the food advertising time with ads (Doritos and Pepsi Zero Sugar). The company included an innovative twist into its strategy this year by becoming the first brand to recreate its Super Bowl commercial in the Metaverse.
Finally, Baby Nut was born, the reincarnation of Mr. Peanut, who “died” in a 2020 Super Bowl ad. The ad ran during the first half and coincided with the company changing its Twitter handle to “Baby Nut” and publishing memes featuring the new nut’s face.
Alcohol Advertising at the Big Game
For the first time in decades, Anheuser-Busch (AB) wasn’t the only alcohol brand people saw. In mid-2022, the company announced it wouldn’t be renewing its exclusive rights for alcohol advertising during the Super Bowl.
The decision opened the gates for the competition, but the rush didn’t stop AB from making its presence felt. Even though AB’s advertisers no longer had free reign, they still ran three minutes of spots, representing 5% of the run time during Super Bowl LVII.
Overall, there were 3.5 minutes of beer ads, with whiskey and cognac each shining bright for 60 seconds.
According to Adweek, Serena Williams’ speech for Rémy Martin outperformed the median engagement score of Super Bowl ads by 2.7x. Meanwhile, Crown Royal’s spot featuring Dave Grohl performed 2.4x better.
It’s Just Money
Despite the rising price tag for Super Bowl ads, and current events putting pressure on ad budgets, brands in media & entertainment, technology, food, alcohol, and automotive, couldn’t resist reaching deep into their pockets.
Pet and travel advertisers couldn’t resist either.
The Farmer’s Dog, for example, debuted at the Big Game with a 60-second spot that shared the journey and bond of Ava and her dog, Bear.
At the same time, travel advertisers from Booking.com and Vrbo appeared with 30-second spots as all things travel and tourism heat up.
As long as millions of people tune into the NFL’s biggest night, ad dollars will follow—no matter how high the price gets.
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