Shattering Records: The Surge in Super Bowl Commercial Costs – Unyielding Advertisers

The Rising Cost of Super Bowl Advertising

In 1967, the cost of a 30-second commercial during the first Super Bowl, known as the AFL-NFL World Championship Game back then, was $47,500. The following year, the price increased by $5,000, reflecting the game’s increasing popularity. By Super Bowl XXIX in 1990, the cost for 30 seconds of airtime surged to a staggering $1 million.

The Soaring Price Tag of Super Bowl Ads

This year, advertisers must shell out a whopping $5.6 million for a 30-second spot, which amounts to $186,667 per second. These skyrocketing costs can be attributed to the massive viewership that the Super Bowl attracts. Last year’s game drew an estimated 112 million viewers in the US through both television and streaming platforms. If a similar audience tunes in for the clash between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers, advertisers will reach approximately 20 people for every dollar spent, a significant decrease compared to the 1,200 fans reached per dollar in 1967.

Spending Super Bowl Money

The Super Bowl commercials have become more than just advertisements; they have evolved into cultural touchstones that linger in our memories long after the game has ended. From the iconic Clydesdales introduced in Super Bowl IX to beloved characters like Spuds McKenzie in Super Bowl XXI and the catchphrase “Where’s the beef?” from Super Bowl XVIII, these ads continue to garner attention and even enjoy popularity on platforms like YouTube. However, the ever-increasing cost of Super Bowl advertising has forced many previous advertisers to reconsider their involvement.

OG News set out to investigate which brands are still willing to take the advertising gamble and determine the industries that find it most valuable to invest large sums for an official Super Bowl sponsorship.

The Dominance of the Food and Beverage Industry

When it comes to the number of Super Bowl ads and the amount of exposure they receive, the food and beverage industry stands dominant, closely followed by the automotive industry. Within the food and beverage sector, particular emphasis is placed on beer, soda, and snacks, although it seems surprising that there is only one ad dedicated to pizza.

The top spenders by category for the 2020 Super Bowl are:


  • Audi
  • Hyundai
  • Kia
  • Porsche
  • Toyota
  • WeatherTech


  • Facebook
  • SquareSpace
  • Verizon

Financial Services

  • Discover Card
  • New York Life
  • Turbo Tax

Food and Beverage

  • Avocados from Mexico
  • Bud Light
  • Budweiser
  • Cheetos
  • Coca-Cola
  • Doritos
  • Heinz Ketchup
  • Little Caesars Pizza
  • Michelob
  • Mountain Dew
  • Pepsi
  • Planters
  • Pop-Tarts
  • Pringles
  • Sabra
  • Snickers
  • SodaStream

Health and Beauty

  • Olay
  • Procter & Gamble
  • Tide


  • Donald J. Trump for President
  • Mike Bloomberg 2020


  • Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos
  • Turkish Airlines

Not-So-Super Value?

While these commercials do reach audiences beyond Super Bowl Sunday, thanks to platforms like YouTube and news shows discussing them, the return on investment (ROI) hasn’t kept pace with the increasing ad prices. Despite the surge in ad costs, television and streaming viewership hasn’t matched the exponential growth. This discrepancy has compelled some advertisers to question whether the Big Game is truly worth it for their brands.

By comparing the number of viewers for each Super Bowl with the advertising expenses incurred, we can observe a dwindling ROI:

Year Cost for 30-second spot Estimated Viewers* Viewers reached per dollar spent
2020 $5,600,000 ?? ??
2019 $5,200,000 113,270,000 22
2018 $5,000,000 117,953,000 24

* Estimated Viewers combines Nielsen ratings for broadcasts in English and Spanish, as well as viewers who watched via streaming services.


  • Sports Media Watch
  • Ad Age


The cost of advertising during the Super Bowl has surged to staggering heights, with a 30-second spot now demanding a hefty $5.6 million. While the game continues to attract a massive audience, advertisers are questioning the value they receive in return. Despite the Super Bowl commercials becoming cultural phenomena, the ROI hasn’t kept up with the exponential growth in ad prices. As industries like food and beverages dominate the advertising space, it remains to be seen whether the Super Bowl’s allure will continue to attract advertisers in the future.


1. Are Super Bowl ads worth the high cost?

While Super Bowl ads have the potential to reach a massive audience, their ROI has been diminishing over the years. Advertisers must carefully evaluate whether the exposure and associated costs align with their specific marketing goals

Doug I. Jones

Doug I. Jones

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