The Super Bowl Investment Ad Spend Trends Over the Past Five Super Bowls

The Super Bowl Investment Ad Spend Trends Over the Past Five Super Bowls

While Super Bowl ads require a substantial investment, they tend to get a measurable marketing bump from their prominent placement. According to Nielsen, ads that aired during 2011’s Super Bowl XLV were, on average, 58 percent more memorable than commercials airing during regular programming in the first quarter of 2011. In addition, brand awareness for commercials airing during the Super Bowl was up to 275 percent higher than awareness for the same creative during regular programming.

Cost of an Ad

The Super Bowl investment is economically resilient, remaining relatively stable despite fluctuations in the primetime average—and rising consistently over the past five years despite a rocky economy.


Big Spenders: Automotive Makes a Comeback

2011 was the year of the auto comeback. Spending on automotive ads far surpassed other categories and more than doubled versus previous years. Nine different auto brands took center field in the commercial breaks, versus an average of two to four brands in years prior. Creative quality also improved in 2011, with an unprecedented four auto spots making Nielsen’s annual Most-Liked list. Chevrolet’s “Wild Ride” garnered the distinction of being the most watched ad of all time, with an estimated 119,628,000 viewers watching its Super Bowl airing. This year, Chevy is breaking ground again with the Game Time app, which will leverage consumers’ simultaneous cross-screen behavior and reinforce branding from traditional TV advertisements.

Top Five Super Bowl Advertising Categories (2007-2011)

Year Over Year Spend Breakdown (in millions)


Other Spend Trends

  • Beer: Bud Light and Budweiser have dominated the turf when if comes to Super Bowl beer advertising over the past five years. Consumers have come to expect the fleet of creatives, including the iconic Clydesdale ads. In 2010 and 2011, other brands like Michelob and Stella Artois came to play. What can viewers expect this year?
  • Motion Picture: Movies have a strong presence in Super Bowl ad lineup, as studios capitalize on the massive audience to parade their best bets for the year. From 2008-2011, at least one of the top five highest grossing films had a slot in the Super Bowl line up. Motion picture ads increased after 2008 and have had a consistently strong presence during the game since, reaching ten ads in last year’s game.
  • Regular Soft Drink: While fewer Soft Drink ads have traditionally aired during the Super Bowl compared to other categories, they make an impact by creating minute-long spots.
  • Tortilla Chips: Tortilla Chips have emerged as a highly anticipated category of ads, led by the fan created ads. Last year, three Doritos ads made Nielsen’s Most Liked and Most Remembered list.