The Super Bowl is the culmination of the NFL season, and it’s the most popular TV event in the United States every year.
Super Bowl XLIX in February 2015, which featured the New England Patriots over the Seattle Seahawks, was the highest-rated TV event of all time.
Similarly, six of the next seven most popular broadcasts have also been Super Bowls.
While football fans tune in for the game itself, many Americans are more interested in the commercials shown during halftime and time-outs.
Considering our impartial attitude toward advertisements, it’s surprising that Super Bowl commercials continue to generate so much interest among American consumers.
Naturally, the Super Bowl is the marquee event for major brands that want to connect with audiences through TV.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the history of Super Bowl ads and how they became so popular in the 56 years since the first game.
The Super Bowl was originally created as a championship game for the winner of the NFL (National Football League) and AFL (American Football League).
Both leagues had been competing separately for a few years, with some of the top players competing in each one.
Shortly after, the AFL became part of the NFL, so the Super Bowl was no longer a competition between teams from different leagues.
Instead, the NFL expanded to include the NFC (National Football Conference) and AFC (American Football Conference).
Today, the Super Bowl still features the champion of each conference.
In 2022, for example, it was held between the Los Angeles Rams, who won the NFC, and the Cincinnati Bengals, who won the AFC.
Football is the most widely watched sport in the United States by a wide margin, so it’s no surprise that its championship game is the biggest sporting event of the year.
However, the Super Bowl was actually much less of a marquee event in the 1960s than it is today.
The first Super Bowl, between the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs, had an average ticket price of just $12.
The next handful of games were seen by about 40 to 50 million people, not even half of the ~100 million that have tuned in for recent games.
Super Bowl TV ratings went up dramatically in the 1970s, particularly after the merger between the two leagues.
The big game finally achieved 100 million viewers in 2010.
As household TVs became more and more common, the Super Bowl was able to cement its status as a cultural icon.
In the same way, Super Bowl ad spots have become much more expensive over that period of time.
While you could advertise during the first Super Bowl for less than $40,000, an average 30-second slot would have cost you about $6.5 million during the 2022 game.
One 1967 dollar is equivalent to roughly $8.49 in 2022, so some of that difference could be chalked up to inflation.
Still, 2022 ad slots were about 20 times more expensive than their 1967 counterparts even after accounting for the impact of inflation.
One of the unique qualities of the Super Bowl is that it connects brands to an incredibly broad audience.
While most TV shows and events cater to specific demographics, the Super Bowl transcends conventional cultural boundaries.
Even better, the Super Bowl is one of the only events in which many viewers are happy to watch ads instead of skipping or ignoring them.
With the entire country watching, businesses want to develop commercials that have the potential to go viral and get people talking about their brand.
This leads companies to use a different approach compared to their normal marketing campaigns.
Unsurprisingly, Super Bowl ads tend to be much more creative, unique, or simply bizarre than commercials that run during other TV shows.
Celebrities are one of the most effective ways for brands to get people talking about them.
Since companies are already paying so much for the Super Bowl ad slot itself, they’re often willing to spend more on celebrity endorsements than they would for an ordinary TV commercial.
This 2021 Super Bowl ad from BIC Lighters included a major endorsement from Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart.
Rather than simply using a random celebrity, BIC Lighters worked with people who made perfect sense for their brand.
On top of the tens of millions of people who saw the ad during the big game, it has been viewed roughly 3 million times on YouTube.
The comment section is full of people talking about how funny the ad is — in fact, the top comment said “this the first time I actively searched for an ad to watch.”
That’s the kind of reaction brands want to generate with their Super Bowl ads.
Even if you don’t have the budget for a celebrity endorsement, you can still find a great voice actor for commercials on our website.
Since most viewers tune in for the entire game and pay attention to the commercials, some brands have experimented with multi-commercial sequences.
These sequences would be extremely difficult to pull off during any other TV show, but they work perfectly during the Super Bowl.
Tide took this idea further than ever with the “It’s a Tide ad” concept commercials that aired during the 2018 Super Bowl.
Throughout the game, commercials would show up appearing to advertise a wide range of common products including beer, cars, and jewelry.
At the end of each one, it would be revealed that the whole ad was for Tide due to the stain-free appearance of the actors.
This kind of ad was so unique that it became one of the hit commercials of that year’s game.
Brands that stick to their usual types of ads will struggle to generate much enthusiasm with the intense creative competition that comes during every Super Bowl.
On any other day of the year, an announcement for an upcoming commercial or trailer would be unusual.
When it comes to the Super Bowl, however, brands often let viewers know what to expect in advance.
Amazon, for example, announced an upcoming trailer for its Lord of the Rings TV show in advance.
On the big day, fans of the series were ready to see it show up at some point during the game.
Early announcements don’t always make sense, but they’re a good option for shows and movies that are expected to generate lots of audience interest.
When fans know that a trailer is coming, they’ll generate buzz on their own and help build anticipation for the eventual release.
The Super Bowl is about football, but most people are at least as interested in the commercials as they are in the game itself.
Super Bowl Sunday is the biggest day for TV advertisers and brands just as it’s the biggest day for football players and fans.
If you want to get in touch with the largest possible TV audience, the Super Bowl is your best opportunity.
At the same time, Super Bowl ads cost millions of dollars per 30-second spot and are too expensive for all but the largest companies.
These are just a few examples of the best Super Bowl commercials we’ve seen in recent years.
Make sure to check out our voice actors for promos if you’re working on a commercial of your own.