The $5 Million Super Bowl Ad (updated post Super Bowl)

Is the Super Bowl ad really worth $5 million? That is the hot question every time around the Super Bowl. After all you are going to have the largest viewing audience of all time . That’s what they say time in and time out. The audience is also worldwide. Its a captive audience for the most part sitting in that recliner, on the couch, on a barstool. And they in some way are looking for something to do, other than grab more nachos or another beer.

No one Remembers the Product

The key to the commercial is for the viewer to remember the product or the company not the cute fuzzy bunny or the purple something or the great big cow but the actual company, your actual website if you said it . So many times people remember that it was a really funny commercial but they could not tell you what it was for and that’s not good. In fact you might want to consider having them do a call for action. Something like text “howdy” to 6-99999 or 6-SEEIT. Or pick a nice four-five letter word. There are many services that have these available.

This will start a acquisition process which gives you immediate feedback. The first is how many eyeballs have actually seen your commercial at that moment. Second you can then parlay that into immediate revenue through several steps.

Great Ads Should

Other than making you remember what the ad was about, who the ad was for it should ask for action. The action can be simple. Some ideas. (I should charge for this)

  • Tweet with a hashtag, then respond with a coupon code. Give away stuff to various tweets
  • Ask for SMS to a phone number, easy to recall….you have time to get one of these…then respond with coupon, tips, etc.
  • Make it real time. Comments about what is going on NOW.

The key is to have easy to remember websites, phone numbers. hashtags. Remember, people are drinking, its loud and you have a limited time to capture or ask for action. Some will take that action minutes maybe hours later, especially after they see other winning things.

Beyond the Super Bowl

Super Bowl commercials are not only shown during the game but are also featured in many morning shows before as well as afterwards. Some of these will be shown in their entirety. Even a ten second clip of the 30 second commercial will resonate with the viewer.

Many news articles will mention ads, and those articles on line will again show that commercial in some duration. If the link goes to YouTube chances are also very good there will be other ads there to be clicked on.
Many of these are before the Super Bowl so pre-hype and more recognition once the ad runs. People may even be waiting for it.

A prime example of this was Apple. Its ‘1984 won’t be like 1984’ ad only aired once officially, yet millions of people saw it afterwards and continue to see it afterwards. Its probably in the top five of the most famous ads. And yes, that was back in 1984!

Also remember that your request for SMS or other actions will still be shown.

Timing of the Ad During the Game

This to me is the biggest wild card of the ad. The placement of when the ad is shown during this long event. Its not a regular game. There are more timeouts, commercial time outs to be exact. That is how they get all that revenue. The way people watch the game will vary based on where they are. Those watching from a ‘home/house’ game v. the bar or party setting. This would actually make a great study. Who is in their seat for kickoff and the first set of downs.

Early on more the viewing audience is getting fired up and attention is probably more acute. A big play gets them going. Not many people will be up for a refill in the first drive or two. The game is still exciting.

If the commercial is shown in the fourth quarter and the game is close then your viewing audience will be much greater as well as attention. If the game is a blow out the eyes may actually be on a different channel or discussion.


I am not a big Super Bowl Halftime person. In my opinion its a distraction to the players who are used to a much shorter halftime, it has nothing to do with the game, and can have an effect on play. I know its a show, but the topic is football.

Halftimes are also times when the viewers do several important things and none involve watching the screen. Bathroom visit, refills on beverages and food, going outside for fresh air, going outside to pollute your lungs, checking your emails (unless its to see if you won that SMS contest mentioned above) and other things. NONE of these involve watching your ad.

The ad following Halftime, or maybe the first break after the second half kickoff may be good. Again people will be settled. If the game is close eyeballs will watch.

In the End

The $5 million is a huge chunk, and its only a part. of the equation. You still need to make it. And while many ads were made inexpensively the process needs to be there. You also need to have in place, working place, folks to handle the traffic your ad’s eyeballs will attract. If you go to all that trouble and you website crashes, people get a busy signal, the SMS return message has the wrong link, it is a huge fail. Finally the reason you made this commercial needs to set in. People may actually order, look for, want to see your stuff so make sure you have it ready to so.


Those that watched for ads there was one for 84 Lumber. Apparently their ad was “too controversial” to air so they showed a small part then sent the audience to their website. The traffic which resulted crashed the website temporarily. Proof that you need to be ready for traffic if you ask for it.

An article on the crash.
The video from 84 Lumber.

You can reach Paul Valach at
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