How The Big Game Reflects Adland's Broader Issues

How many Super Bowl Ads do you remember from a year ago?

I remember one — featuring the demise of the Bud Knight and probably only because it came up recently in stories about mascots meeting their doom like Planters’ Mr. Peanut this year.

The point being, as Forrester’s Jay Pattisall just wrote in a review of the Big Game: “The cost of marketing is disproportionate to its returns.” Advertising in the game reflects broader industry issues, including ROI, in-housing and the state of creativeness in advertising today, he surmises.

A 30-second spot in this year’s game costs a staggering $5.6 million, probably a little less if you’re buying multiple spots and a little more if you’re buying just one. And that’s just the media time. Add another couple of million (depending on the talent involved) for the creation and production of the actual ads.



The year-over-year growth of Super Bowl ad costs far outpaces the YOY growth of audiences, Pattisall notes. From 2008–2018, the cost per 30 seconds grew an average of 5.27% YOY, while Super Bowl audiences grew at only 1.03%. Over the history of the Super Bowl, ad costs grew an average of 6.07% YOY versus audience growth of 3.27%.

It’s no secret that marketers are taking more of their advertising chores in-house. And most in-house agencies offer creative services, which Pattisall notes, “will be on full display during Super Bowl Sunday.”

At least four of this year’s Super Bowl ads have been created in-house by marketers. They include Google’s “Loretta” spot promoting Google Assistant, Quicken Loans’ Rocket Mortgage spot, P&G’s Secret, and Squarespace’s ad starring actress Winona Ryder. “Five years ago, the concept of in-house agencies producing Super Bowl spots was unheard of,” Pattisall says.

You would think the multimillions spent on Super Bowl spots would really get the creative juices flowing in Adland -- but as Pattisall notes, a number of ads in this year’s game rely on creative recycling. Snickers is bringing its 10-year-old “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign to the game, and Bud is bringing back a variation of “Whassup.”   

“As every corner of the advertising and agency world transforms itself, brands and agencies alike should remember that creativity is the very currency of the industry — the exeptional electricity that makes consumers care and brands matter,” as Pattisall writes.

I gotta say a "Whassup" redo doesn’t make me care much. Excellent time for a bathroom break.


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