By Rob Ficiur
Why do Super Bowl commercials create the enthusiasm they do? The week leading up to the big game fans and non- fans alike look forward to what new commercials have been created for this event. But why is the Super Bowl the one event that draws so much commercial attention? Here are some of the reasons:
1. NFL Creates Big Money – (Real Big)
The NFL creates the most revenue of all four team sports in North America: NFL has annual revenue of $9 billion, compared to Major League Baseball $8 billion, National Basketball Association $5 billion and NHL $3.7 billion. The National Football League makes $1 billion more than baseball, while playing 18 games versus baseball’s 162 game schedule.
The revenue per game for the NFL dwarfs the other professional sports:
NFL (per game revenue) : $281 million; Baseball: $3.2 million; NBA $11.6 million and NHL $8.6 million per game. On a per game basis the NFL makes more than ten times the combined total of the other three “big sports leagues.” Big advertising dollars are going to follow the largest sports league.
2. One day event – Football differs from other major sports because the final is a one day event (on a specific day of the year). Fans enjoyed Game #7 of the 2014 World Series. In the last ten years only twice has the World Series come down to a best of seven, winner take all series. (In that same time three World Series were three four game sweeps – none of which create the drama of a Super Bowl.) The World Series lasts about ten days while the Super Bowl is one day event. Even moderate fans can set aside one day to cheer for their team. (Or more likely pick a team to cheer for).
3. NFL regular seasons games have high TV ratings – One website said that last fall 34 of the 35 most-watched programs on TV were NFL games. This number does not include the playoffs or Super Bowl. If TV ratings are high – then the one day final is going to draw even more fans.
What can you buy for a $4.5 million dollar thirty second Super Bowl ad? I went to the website superbowl-commercials.org to see the 2015 ads. This took longer than I expected because I also “had” to look at some of the ads from years past. Here are three ads that caught my attention:
1. 1969 Plymouth Road Runner – There were three ads from the 1969 Super Bowl. This ad had a cartoon of Wylie Coyote chasing the Road Runner. (Sorry younger generation you may not know what this means – ask someone over 45 they will know right away.) When the coyote failed to capture the elusive roadrunner – the brand new 1969 Plymouth Roadrunner appeared on the scene. It didn’t help the Coyote either.
2. Rent a [White] Man – There were two ads on this topic. A black man wanted to rent a white man to get him a job and a place to live. The idea was that by renting a white man there would not be any discrimination against him because he was black – and his skills would shine through. The Rent a Man ad had the same theme – this time a woman renting a man so that she would not be discriminated against. These two ads weren’t meant to be funny. They got across the point of discrimination from a different angle.
3. BMW i3: Newfangled Idea – This ad began with a 1994 TV clip from American talk show hosts Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel. They were discussing this new invention called the internet. “Is it like mail?” “How do you say the word for “@” symbol?” Those were good question s in 1994. The commercial fast forwards to 2015 when Couric and Gumbel are in an electric car built in a wind powered factory. They were as confused by this car as they were by the internet two decades ago. [Many of us can related to both of their confusions].
In our world where we can watch shows on demand or put them on a PVR (and yes some of us still have VCRs) – we can often escape watching commercials. The Super Bowl is the only time we talk as much about the commercials as we do the game.