This Sunday afternoon, as the Colts vie for their first title since moving to Indianapolis and the Chicago Bears try to claim their first Super Bowl win in 20 years, an awful lot of people will be raking in an awful lot of dough. From the overpaid players to the hot dog vendors to half-time performer Prince to the folks selling bootleg T-shirts in the parking lot, everyone will be expecting to make money hand over fist. Of course, the people making the biggest paycheck are, as always, the ones from the network. CBS is asking a bank-breaking $2.6 million for each 30-second commercial that airs during the broadcast.
Although the price is considered fair for the nation’s highest-profile advertising showcase (more than 90 million total viewers are expected), there are few companies who can afford to shell out that kind of dough.
This year’s big daddy is, as always, Anheuser-Busch, which is soaking up nine Super Bowl ads to hawk its various Budweiser products. Since the Bud boys buy so many major sports packages throughout the year, it’s believed that Anheuser-Busch paid something closer to $2 million for each commercial spot. Even so, that’s a pretty penny to pay in order to court a bunch of drunks who have, in all likelihood, already purchased their day’s beer ration.
Among the other major corporations to pop for Super Bowl commercials are Chevrolet, Doritos, Diamond’s Emerald Nuts, Honda, Pepsi, Sprint, Taco Bell, Toyota and, of course, the big boob lovers over at GoDaddy.com. Movie studios will be there as well, trying to drum up interest in films like Lionsgate’s inner-city, feel-good swim team drama Pride and Disney’s middle-aged biker comedy Wild Hogs.
So far, Nationwide Insurance has gotten the most bang for its advertising buck. The insurance giant recently announced that former Britney babydaddy Kevin Federline (yet another person racking up an unduly large paycheck on Super Bowl Sunday) would star in a commercial in which he goes from pimped-out rap star to fast-food frycook to prove the company’s slogan “Life Comes At You Fast.” The National Restaurant Association sent a letter to Nationwide CEO Jerry Jurgensen complaining that the ad is “a strong and a direct insult to the 12.8 million Americans who work in the restaurant industry.” I’m not sure if the organization is angry over the insinuation that bagging fries is a lame career or if they’re simply bristling at being compared to Kevin Federline. Either way, Nationwide (and Mr. Federline) can thank them for all the free advertising.
In the end, it won’t matter whether Bears coach Lovie Smith becomes the first African-American to win a Super Bowl or Colts coach Tony Dungy becomes the first African-American to win a Super Bowl. The real winners have already been chosen--and they all live on Madison Avenue.