Super Bowl XLVI: The Biggest Marketing Opportunity of the Year

8 Feb

On February 5th the New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots 21-17 in what proved to be a close and exciting game until the very last second. This past Sunday, millions of Americans gathered with friends and family to eat chicken wings, drink beer, and, most importantly, watch the biggest NFL game of the year.

But what’s really special about the Super Bowl XLVI? Over 111 million Americans tuned in to watch the Giants battle the Patriots, making it the most watched Super Bowl in history and the biggest marketing opportunity of the year.

Companies paid an average of $3.5 million for 30 seconds of commercial time in this year’s Super Bowl, a very expensive price for a chance to communicate with potential customers. So what makes Super Bowl ad spots so much more valuable than those of normal NFL games? Other than the increase in viewership, of course, people know that these commercials will be good, explaining why many Americans found themselves glued to their seats rather than flipping through channels when the ads came on.

Most of these advertisers tried to incorporate humor and entertainment into their Super Bowl ads (watch all the Super Bowl ads at the link below). In a minute-long Chevrolet commercial, the drivers of Silverado trucks were the only survivors of the 2012 Mayan Apocalypse. The rest of the world “didn’t drive the longest lasting most dependable truck on the road.” This was my favorite commercial of the night, making light of the projected end of the world and even throwing in a Twinkie reference.

Volkswagen had a clever, two-part commercial, which first featured a dog losing weight so that it could fit through the doggy door and chase down the VW Beatle. The screen then zoomed out to reveal Star Wars characters watching the dog advertisement in a bar, a reference to VW’s popular Darth Vader ad from last year’s Super Bowl.

Funny ads have been a staple of the Super Bowl for years. Rather than simply describing a product, companies have found that engaging and entertaining the audience can drive interest. Some ads, like the VW segment, don’t even show the product they are advertising for much of the commercial, which makes it more of a story related to a product than an open advertisement for the product.

Some companies took advantage of the large male population watching the game and aired (for lack of a better word) sexy ads like’s 30-second spot featuring Victoria’s Secret model Adriana Lima telling men to “give [flowers] and you shall receive.” These ‘sexy’ ads proved to be effective when essentially started the genre of commercials in 2005 with their racy ad featuring Nascar driver and model Danica Patrick. Millions of viewers were urged to log on to to see more.

Like some of the funny advertisements, sexy ads can have nearly nothing to do with a product and still be effective, as long as they deliver a certain message to the viewer.’s segment only had flowers as a background item in some of the shots, but Adriana Lima certainly persuaded a lot of men to buy flowers for their significant other on the upcoming Valentine’s Day.

Humor and sex appeal are only two ways that companies try to communicate with viewers through Super Bowl ads; many advertisers target other emotions to connect with the audience. Chrysler, for example, aired a very serious two-minute ad titled ‘Its Halftime in America’ featuring Clint Eastwood with an inspiring speech about the rebound of the car industry. Similar to Chrysler’s Eminem commercial from last year’s Super Bowl, ‘Its Halftime in America’ promotes patriotism in an attempt to boost domestic car sales.

Using commercials, companies can communicate and connect with their viewers in many ways, from making you laugh to making you want to find out more, and there’s no bigger or better stage for businesses to reach their target audience than the Super Bowl.


by Josh Aronson


4 Responses to “Super Bowl XLVI: The Biggest Marketing Opportunity of the Year”

  1. Jacob Trunsky February 9, 2012 at 1:43 am #


    Really interesting post! The Super Bowl ads are sometimes even more exciting than the game itself! One thing that interests me is if Super Bowl ads are worth the investment. I’m sure that one could make a strong case for each side. Is this something you have looked into or know any good articles on? I’m interested in your opinion on the ROI debate.

  2. Elana February 10, 2012 at 10:08 pm #

    I loved reading your article, and I completely I agree when you said that “there’s no bigger or better stage for businesses to reach their target audience than the Super Bowl.” I also wrote about the Super Bowl commercials, but focused on how companies are even trying to use social media to gain recognition of their ads. Hope you enjoy mine like I enjoyed yours!

  3. Julia Joy Berk February 11, 2012 at 5:09 pm #

    Jacob – I’ve thought a bit about the ROI dilemma, but I think the returns can be more than financial. A good Superbowl ad was the potential to build goodwill in a certain market. Also, featuring your company in a Superbowl ad demonstrates a certain financial flexibility; every company I see an advertisement for, I assume has been very successful.

    • Josh Aronson April 16, 2012 at 3:04 am #

      I agree. Although I have not seen any of the specific financial returns, I assume that airing a Superbowl commercial is a sound investment for most companies. More importantly though, Superbowl ads make a strong connection with viewers that other (cheaper) commercials are not as successful at.

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