Saturday, February 27, 2016

Super Bowl 50 Commentary

Much has been written since Super Bowl 50 about the commercials that were broadcast during the United States largest television event of the year which broadcast on February 7, 2016. This season, corporations that wanted to advertise during the Super Bowl paid upwards of $5 million for 30 seconds of airtime to show a commercial during the game. Commentary has focused on whether companies receive true value for the right to place their product or service in front of more than 110 million viewers in the United States and millions more across the world. Some have concluded that it is simply not worth the cost to advertise during the Super Bowl because of the extremely high price tag when one considers the cost to produce the commercial, including paying the actors and creative minds behind the advertisement, the air time payment (with many companies airing 60 second, 90 second or multiple 30 second commercials), and the risk that an attempt to be provocative might fall flat or generate negative attention (think the PuppyMonkeyBaby commercial aired by Mountain Dew for its Kick Start product).

Some post-Super Bowl reports have found that corporate share price spikes when a company announces that it will advertise during the Super Bowl. Other reports are critical of corporations that pay upwards of $25 to 35 million to advertise during the Super Bowl when many consumers are unable to recognize a product as attached to a specific memorable commercial. In keeping with all of the Super Bowl commentary, one student in my Business Organizations course had this to say about watching Super Bowl commercials for purposes of evaluating whether the decision to air extravagant ads represented sound business judgment:

"For Business Organizations, we were assigned to view Super Bowl advertising from the perspective of a shareholder. Our challenge, answer the question, “Was this ad worth a minimum of $5 million dollars?” This framework made me ask, “What are the effects of marketing during the Super Bowl?” News that a company plans to advertise during the big game has been linked to a rise in stock value, but the ads may not influence consumers to purchase the product. From a shareholder perspective this would cause me to say, No, the ad does not justify the expense.

Then I began to think about the other effects of Super Bowl marketing. I am not a shareholder in any companies. My stock is all invested in the three kids I had the pleasure of watching the game with. They are 10, 9 and 7 and they were watching because they love football, not because they had an assignment for school. Watching the ads with my executive team was very frightening. Many of the products placed front and center on our TV included junk food, alcohol and medications, all part of huge public health crises in our country. While I watched the commercials with my family, I wondered, who is ultimately responsible when the products advertised are unhealthy and potentially dangerous? The cost of this advertising and the impact of these products on society may be incalculable.

Ultimately, it is not the businesses or shareholders that gain the most benefit from the Super Bowl ads. The NFL should play a role in guaranteeing that the products and advertisements we put up with to watch the game are not harmful. Advertising can be effective and ethical. Businesses that deliberately market harmful products should be held responsible. As a viewer of the NFL’s Super Bowl 50, I was concerned that my children and other people’s children were being harmed. Many children have already been harmed. In the search for deep pockets and a remedy for this harm, the NFL may be a good place to start."

-- Indiana Tech Law School 2L student


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  2. Most commercials are not worth it. I can think of dozens of commercials fir for com companies that no longer exist. However many large companies can track their sales directly to to super bowl commercials. The sale of Apples Macintosh sky rocketed after their Big Brother commercial in 1984.