What recession? Paying millions for a 30-second Super Bowl spot

It would be un-American to have a Super Bowl without a Budweiser commercial, without a Coca-Cola commercial, without a Chevy tru... - oh, wait, financially-strapped GM won't be airing any ads during this year's granddaddy of all advertising events.

It would be un-American to have a Super Bowl without a Budweiser commercial, without a Coca-Cola commercial, without a Chevy tru... - oh, wait, financially-strapped GM won't be airing any ads during this year's granddaddy of all advertising events.

The sluggish economy is a very real thing - but so is the Super Bowl, with its estimated 100 million viewers. And that means that companies hit by the economy had tough ROI decisions to make. According to a report in today's Los Angeles Times, some advertisers are snubbing the downturn by coughing up as much as $3 million for a 30-second spot, an 11 percent increase over the $2.7 million charged for a slot during last year's game.

So this year, GM and Fed-Ex are out but Denny's and Pedigree dog food have jumped in. Even Intel is in this year, as a partner with Pepsi and Dreamworks for a big 90-second 3D commercial promoting the movie "Monsters vs. Aliens." (Some 125 million 3D glasses are reportedly available in grocery stores across the country, though I haven't seen any at my neighborhood market.)

Also see: Previous year's Super Bowl commercials

Some say that a downturn is the best time to invest and beef up brand equity so that the company is stronger when the economy finally starts to recover - and what better way to reach millions of tuned-in viewers than the Super Bowl. Others might argue that the Super Bowl is overpriced and those same dollars could be spread out among different platforms throughout the year.

I'm no macroeconomic expert, so I punt this question to you: Given the current economic conditions, is the Super Bowl a smart ad buy or a frivolous one? I look forward to reading your thoughts. Chime in on the Talkbacks.

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