PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., cost $1.6 billion to build before it opened in 2010. In the decade leading up to Super Bowl XLVII, which the stadium is hosting in February, Super Bowl commercials have brought in enough to cover those costs and still have $400 million left over.
According to Kantar Media, Super Bowl advertisers have spent $2 billion on their spots over the past 10 years. The cost of one 30-second ad has jumped from $3 million in 2009 to $4 million last year, with annual Super Bowl ad revenue climbing to $292 million from $213 million during that span.
Wait, wasn't there a recession in there somewhere? Well, yes, but the NFL managed to confine it to the 2010 Super Bowl, when 30-second ads fetched only $2.97 million but still managed to bring in more than $205 million after sponsors bought a Super Bowl record 104 ads.
There have been at least 45 minutes of ads shown during every Super Bowl broadcast since 2008. During last year's game, they clocked in at nearly 52 minutes with some help from a brief blackout in the New Orleans Superdome. Meanwhile, 60-second ads have multiplied from just 10 in 2011 to 15 in 2012 and last year, making up 19% and 15% of all ads, respectively.
This year, Super Bowl XLVIII broadcaster Fox has sold out its inventory of commercial time for about $4 million per 30-second spot. It's not really such a tough sell, since there isn't any other single event that comes close to drawing the Super Bowl's 108.7 million average U.S. viewers or 164.1 million total U.S. audience. Last year's World Series went to four games, but its $247.6 million in ad sales still trailed the Super Bowl. Even the three games of NCAA Men's Basketball's Final Four came up short at $198.5 million in ad sales.
As a result, the companies that buy Super Bowl ads regularly tend to spend big just to claim as much of that audience's time as they can. We went through Kantar Media's statistics and found the five biggest Super Bowl ad buyers of the past five years. There are some surprises in there, but most parted with big money to be considered the Super Bowl's usual suspects:
Super Bowl ad spending since 2009: $62.3 million
Give Coca-Cola lots of credit for not being an official NFL sponsor but spending this much anyway. PepsiCo has the big contract and bevy of name and logo rights that go with league sponsorship, but Coca-Cola has made itself a fixture during the NFL's premier event and just hasn't let go. From its iconic 1979 ad featuring the Pittsburgh Steelers' Mean Joe Greene to last year's somewhat less memorable but more interactive Chase spot, Coca-Cola's made it its mission to make life as miserable possible for its pal Pepsi during the big game. With Pepsi once again making the halftime show safe for viewers younger than 35, Coke has a tougher task on its hands than just winning the battle of the brown, sugary fizz.
Super Bowl ad spending since 2009: $64.3 million
After bankruptcy, a humbling bailout and a buyout by Fiat, Chrysler needed to get back up and dust itself off in very public fashion.
It needed to show it was stable, it needed to show it was durable and, perhaps most importantly, it needed to show that the Big Three's newly Italianate member was still American at its core. Boy, did it succeed. With help from its ad partners, Chrysler used Eminem's Lose Yourself to create the image of a down but not out U.S. automaker fighting its way back just like its home city of Detroit. In 2012, it turned its story of economic recovery into a metaphor for post-recession America with help from Clint Eastwood and his Halftime In America soliloquy.
And knowing it's in the fight of its life with Ford for American-made truck iconography and with General Motors to prove who made the most out of Uncle Sam's big loan, it followed up last year by using Paul Harvey's God Made A Farmer to push its Ram truck line and a tribute to returning troops to tout its Jeep brand.
With that mission accomplished, Chrysler gave the U.S. carbuyer a taste of things to come by sexing up a brand that consumers here once viewed as an acronym for Fix It Again, Tony. By suggesting that the sporty version of the Fiat 500 was hot enough to make out with and that its expanded backseat has certain advantages for pre-pubescent kids in the right place at the right time, Chrysler got cheeky without being vulgar and European without looking foreign. It was a tough road to maneuver, by Chrysler handled it expertly.
Super Bowl ad spending since 2009: $67.4 million
Hyundai? Yep, this is what happens when two of the largest automakers in the U.S. go bankrupt and can't use taxpayer dollars on Super Bowl ads.
Seeing an opportunity to gain some ground on not only Chrysler and General Motors, but recall-rattled Toyota and tsunami-stalled Honda and Nissan, Hyundai and its Kia subsidiary decided to take a big gamble on Super Bowl ads. Results were mixed at best.
Last year's Hyundai spots featuring an all-star team of football-playing kids and an impatient Sonata driver increased U.S. sales only 2.5%. With the competition posting far greater gains, Hyundai saw its U.S. market share slip from 4.9% to 4.6%.
Kia, meanwhile, tried to boost sales by having parents blatantly lie to their kids about where babies come from and making attractive female androids give an auto expo geek an atomic wedgie. The result? A 4% downturn in U.S. sales and a reduction in market share from 3.8% to 3.4%.
The good news is that Hyundai/Kia's combined 8% market share is now roughly that of Nissan and within reach of Honda's 9.8%. The bad news? Those companies are maintaining or growing their U.S. presence while Hyundai's shifted into reverse.
Super Bowl ad spending since 2009: $97 million
The official NFL soda and snack sponsor doesn't mess around. Since signing on Cindy Crawford for its 1992 Super Bowl spot, Pepsi has held on to its old "choice of a new generation" mantra by riddling its ads with pop culture figures. Britney Spears, Beyonce, Elton John and a whole lot of well-paid supporting cast members have pushed its soda in recent years -- though Pepsi paused for a bit in 2010 to promote its Refresh Everything charity initiative instead.
But all that PepsiCo spending isn't just soda. The company has spent eight years letting fans produce its Doritos commercials through its Crash The Super Bowl promotion. Ad firm Goodby, Silverstein & Partners lends a hand, but the opportunity to work on a summer blockbuster brings in all the free labor the company needs for its two Doritos spots.
Also, there's the small matter of the halftime show Pepsi is sponsoring for the second year in a row. Last year, it was able to convince Beyonce to reunite with former Destiny's Child partners Michelle Williams and Kelly Rowland for the second most-watched halftime show of all time. The 108 million viewers who tuned in were an audience second only to Madonna's 112.5 million. Bruno Mars was supposed to take center stage this year, but it seems someone behind the scenes had second thoughts about the demographic data and sprinkled The Red Hot Chili Peppers into the mix just to spice things up for the old folks. Bruno Mars is an entertaining and talented showman and all, but Gen X has heard the Chili Peppers four times an hour on every rock radio station in the U.S. since at least 1999. By this point, their songs are to people 35 and older what the sound of rolling waves is to an oceanfront property owner.
1. Anheuser-Busch InBev
Super Bowl ad spending since 2009:$145.9 million
Nope, it's the deal A-B's had in place for nearly 25 years that makes it the Super Bowl's exclusive beer advertiser. That deal includes its Bud Light Hotel and Super Bowl party -- which come to this year's Super Bowl in the form of a cruise ship docked in New York's Hell's Kitchen neighborhood -- and all the Super Bowl point-of-sale branding it can slap on its various items.
Oh, and the idiot commercials of yesteryear? Yeah, those are gone. When the entire country had itself a good cry last year thanks to a particularly sentimental Budweiser Clydesdale, A-B realized that consumers like the company a lot better when it's not acting like an obnoxious bro. Expect more of the same this year when the Clydesdales not only getting a 10-month old puppy to play with, but welcoming home troops from Afghanistan as Operation Enduring Freedom comes to a close in 2014.
It's also done getting fancy with you people. After a promoting Bud Light Platinum, Budweiser Black Crown and Beck's Sapphire in recent years, A-B is using its three-and-a-half minutes of ads solely on Budweiser and Bud Light -- both of which have seen sales decline since the recession.
-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.
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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.