05/02/2016 09:40 GMT | Updated 05/02/2017 05:12 GMT

What's an Advert Worth on Super Bowl Sunday?

On 7 February 2016 the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos will take to the field of the Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California, with the aim of winning Super Bowl 50.

As the teams compete to win the National Football League's championship the Super Bowl brings people together across the USA. The day of the big game is widely known as Super Bowl Sunday. Barbecues and parties are held across the nation. It's said that the only on Thanksgiving is more food consumed than the day of the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl XLIX was the most watched American television programme of 2015. Initial estimates suggested that an average of 114.4 million viewers staying tuned, making the game between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks the most watched broadcast in the history of American television. Viewing figures spiked at 168 million people - more than half the country's population - during the closely contested second-half.

The game's halftime break lasts for 30 minutes and, arguably, is American television's most anticipated half-hour of the year. Thirty second advertising slots on the national network sold for $4.5m during the 2015 Super Bowl. The sum of $5m has been mooted for ads during this year's game.


Some advertisers suggest the astronomical costs cannot be recouped. Yet a number of companies continue to make Super Bowl advertising the focal point of annual marketing campaigns. Viewer responses to adverts aired during the Super Bowl are keenly monitored and analysed. The ads are much anticipated and some viewers tune in specifically to see them.

Online previews on portals such as Youtube also help generate a social media buzz around the adverts. During 2011 The Force, an advert for the Volkswagen Passat car, went viral, acquiring almost 17 million views ahead of the game. Featuring a boy dressed as Darth Vader, from the film Star Wars, it is accompanied by the pounding tune of The Imperial March. Thanks to its use of visual humour the ad was widely acclaimed a success.

Frito-Lay, the makers of Doritos tortilla chips, engage people via their Crash the Super Bowl competition, featuring adverts scripted by members of the public. Online voting helps select the advert that will be aired during the game.

The Doritos advert of 2009 - written by the brothers Dave and Joe Herbert from Batesville, Indiana - was deemed the best of all those shown during the Super Bowl in USA Today's Ad Meter poll. That resulted in the Herbert's bagging a $1m bonus from Frito-Lay. Despite its popularity, the company has announced this year's competition will be the last.

Volvo, the Swedish automotive manufacturer, ran a much discussed media campaign eliciting more than 49,000 tweets during the four hours of the 2015 game. Each time an advert for another manufacturer's vehicle was aired Volvo encouraged viewers to take to Twitter and use the hashtags #VolvoContest and #VolvoInterception to nominate the worthy winner of a Volvo car. With a limited spend, the campaign increased brand awareness by generating publicity on talk and news shows, plus coverage in print and online media.

The most sought-after advertising spots are those dovetailed around the Super Bowl's halftime show, in which some of the biggest names in music have performed. Coldplay will take to the stage this year.

Without a doubt, there's a lot of buzz about advertising and the Super Bowl halftime show. But, come the much-anticipated kick-off, for true football fans it's all about what happens out on the field.