NBC announced recently that they had sold all of their Super Bowl ad inventory at around $3.5 Million per thirty-second spot.  Many people were asking whether the SB spot costs were worth it when they topped $3MM last year and even $1.5MM only a few years ago.  When it comes tot he Super Bowl, it seems that the economic downturn is nowhere to be found. The reality is that there is no other platform for launching a campaign that is better than a Super Bowl ad.

Certainly, the number of viewers is consistently the highest each year – with the numbers being the highest ever when the New Orleans Saints won it all a couple of years ago (finally dethroning the M*A*S*H finale.) Without a doubt, it is the only event that raucous parties come to an immediate hush as the commercials begin so that people don’t miss anything.  What used to be the opportunity for a potty break or a chance to grab a bite has now been moved to either quiet points of the game or during the musical performance at halftime.

The reverence for the commercials is not something new.  Around twenty years ago, when I was waiting tables at Dan Marino’s Sports Bar in Coconut Grove, the entire place got quiet for commercials…

Even the length of the spot and its higher price is not a barrier to entry as more marketers are buying longer time to showcase 60 second spots or even longer – like Chrysler did last year for its two-minute spot featuring Eminem. Ad Age calls out the fact that we’re all trying to reach the heights that Apple did in it’s “1984” themed longform ad announcing the Mac nearly 30 years ago.

The reality is, there is so much of a tail on any ad that is placed within the Super Bowl that it doesn’t even wholly rely on who’s watching it live.  With outlets like USA Today grading the spots as efficiently as they would grade the players and water cooler chatter not only happening in offices, but on blogs and boards across the web – the spots live on for a long time whether follow-up media buys are booked or not.

When pondering the value of those spots, it really comes down to quality.  The biggest waste of money is when someone puts a commercial in there that is confusing or just plain stupid.  Sometimes, there is such a drive for making the spot over-the-top memorable that you can’t even recall what the spot was advertising.  While it is less than desirable to have a regular spot air during the Super Bowl, it is better to do that than place one that will reflect negatively on your brand.

Beyond that, it seems that it seems the value is relatable to the dollar amounts and, even with the high bumps in rates from year to year, its worth it. Just last year, Volkswagen stated they received well over $100MM in value from “The Force” spot they ran during the Super Bowl.  Without the platform of the Super Bowl, the spot still would have been cute and fun, but certainly not that super.