A 30-second ad spot in this year’s Super Bowl costs an average of $3.5 million. That’s an 84% increase from 10 years ago and the highest amount advertisers have ever had to pay. While that is quite the price hike, it is in line with the growth in TV audience, which has just about doubled over the past decade. But despite spending this much to reach such a massive audience at once, the results are rarely impressive.
Between 2002 and 2011, companies spent $2.5 billion on Super Bowl advertising, based on 24/7 Wall St.’s estimate. The top 10 spenders were responsible for more than one-third of that. And one company, Budweiser maker Anheuser-Busch, spent almost $250 million over the past 10 years on Super Bowl ads, or a whopping one-tenth of all Super Bowl ad spending.
24/7 Wall St. ranked total spending for all of the companies that advertised during the Super Bowl in the past decade. An analysis of the top spenders reflects how bad this investment can be. While some, such as Hyundai and Toyota have improved market share over that time, most have not. Based on total ad spending, product failures, change in market share, share price and sales, we identified the eight brands that wasted the most on the Super Bowl, including mega brands such as Coke, Budweiser, GM and Ford.
Based on 24/7 Wall St.’s analysis of Super Bowl ad spending, the top spenders fall into four major categories: automotive, film, food, including snacks and fast food, and beverages. Four of the top 10 Super Bowl advertisers are auto companies. Another four of the 10 are food and beverage manufacturers. Three movie studios are in the top 25.
Because Super Bowl ads are used by a small number of industries, many companies in those industries are forced to advertise just to keep up. Most of the top 10 spenders are perennial also-rans. Yum! Brands, owner of KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, spent $67 million over the past 10 years. Meanwhile, McDonald’s, the indisputable market leader, spent less than half that amount and is not a top 10 spender. Similarly, E*Trade, well-known for the talking baby campaign, spent more than any other online brokerage firm, yet remains fourth in the industry.
24/7 Wall St. tabulated all of the commercials from the past 10 Super Bowls, as archived by Adland, the “world’s largest archive of Super Bowl commercials.” Using that data, 24/7 calculated the number of commercials each company bought, as well as their length, including any available pregame, postgame and prime advertising commercials. To estimate the total amount each company spent on Super Bowl advertising in the past decade, we used the average costs of a 30-second commercial spot each year and the total number of minutes of advertising time recorded by Adland.
These are the eight brands that wasted the most on the Super Bowl.