By Rick Horrow and Karla Swatek
February 1, 2013
It’s finally just hours away. The Super Bowl is upon us once again. This year’s 47th edition pits the San Francisco 49ers against the Baltimore Ravens in New Orleans, and claims as its most interesting storyline two close-knit brothers coaching against each other for the title.
For the vast majority of people around the globe, of course, the Super Bowl is a television event—one that provides a healthy chunk of the annual operating budgets both for the NFL itself and for its television partners. In the U.S., it’s CBS’ turn this year. The network paid a whopping $622 million for its NFL rights this season, but it will make up more than one third of that expenditure from the advertisements aired on Super Bowl Sunday alone. Super Bowl commercials this year are averaging a record $3.7-3.8 million per 30-seconds, with some ads having sold for more than $4 million. The total estimated ad revenue for CBS: $263 million (approximately 70 spots @ $3.75 million average).
This weekend, CBS is planning round-the-clock TV coverage from New Orleans, and on-site coverage from other networks has also increased. Sibling channel CBS Sports Network will have over 50 hours of live coverage, while NBC Sports Network will have more than 20 live hours. ESPN will broadcast over 120 hours of live TV and radio programming. But the league’s own NFL Network, not to be outdone, is planning 140 hours of TV coverage in total, up 41% over last year, with 425 employees working on-site.
To drive the now-mandatory “second screen” experience, all of the networks’ digital media units are ramping up their Super Bowl platforms. Enhanced features on CBSSports.com include the first-ever live stream of the Pepsi Super Bowl XLVII Halftime Show featuring 16-time Grammy-Award winner Beyoncé, immediate access to Super Bowl ads as they are broadcast on TV, and additional camera angles allowing fans to see the action from different perspectives. Ad Week cited media buyers as estimating that CBS will make between $10-12 million for its second screen platform alone.
The Super Bowl is much more of an entertainment platform than a football championship, and outside of its splashy halftime program featuring the likes of the Rolling Stones, the Black Eyed Peas, Madonna, and now Beyoncé, its unique and innovative ads are the main reason that millions of people watch the game in the first place.
Super Bowl ads are generally exclusive, usually created to launch a new product, and do their best to be as memorable—and provocative—as broadcast censors will allow.
Anheuser-Busch’s Bud Light, Doritos, the webhosting company Go Daddy (featuring sexy NASCAR driver Danica Patrick), pretty much all automakers, and the dueling soft drink giants Coca-Cola and Pepsi are Super Bowl regulars.
Coca-Cola hopes to build on its well-received ads from last year’s Super Bowl with a new spot that allows fans, via social media, to vote on a commercial that will debut immediately after the game. Coca-Cola last week debuted its minute-long “Mirage” spot, which, according to AdAge, “showcases three teams—a pack of cowboys, a group of ‘Badlanders’ and a troupe of Vegas-style showgirls—racing through a desert for a giant bottle of Coke. The group with the most fan votes wins the spot.
Over time, besides letting fans vote on their favorites, it has become popular for advertisers to release all or just a tease of their ads ahead of time online. This year, Volkswagen felt the full force of cyber critique when their follow on ad to last year’s wildly popular “Star Wars” spot was accused of racism.
After Volkswagen released its new “Get Happy” Super Bowl ad on Monday—depicting a white office worker from Minnesota speaking in a Jamaican accent—the company received a backlash of criticism. By now, however, comments on the ad’s YouTube page are overwhelmingly positive, proving once and for all that all PR is good PR. Or as American comedian D.L. Hughley so aptly put it on “Good Morning America”: “If Jamaicans can make a movie where they’re bobsledding, then Minnesotans can speak with a Jamaican accent.”
You can’t take in all this football and ad fodder without some nourishment—the typical Super Bowl menu has ballooned from a halftime pizza to a daylong food orgy.
Super Bowl Sunday is the second biggest day for food consumption behind Thanksgiving—the National Chicken Council claims that Americans will eat 1.23 billion chicken wings on Sunday, and the event is also D-Day for number of pizzas delivered and avocados consumed.
But this all comes at a price. CUNY’s Hunter College notes that it would take 209 minutes performing in a marching band to burn off the calories in two slices of Dominos Bacon Cheeseburger Feast Hand-Tossed Specialty Pizza, and 59 minutes of stadium stair climbing to burn off one Sloppy Joe. As for those wings, if you eat a half-dozen traditional hand-spun Buffalo Wild Wings dipped in ranch dressing, you’ll have to do “the Wave”—6,480 times.