Twenty years ago, the electrifying introduction of Apple's Macintosh transformed the final showdown of the football season into the greatest advertising event of the year. With one dramatic hurl of a sledgehammer, Chiat/Day's heroine heralded an era in which the game's commercials are almost as hyped as the game itself.
Since 1984, the average cost of a 30-second time slot on the Super Bowl—the most expensive advertising event of the year—has ballooned from $400,0000 to $2.3 million. Eager to be a part of the extravaganza, perennial advertisers keep making the hefty investment. Budweiser, the game's exclusive national beer sponsor for more than a decade, will be back this Sunday with ten 30-second units (see advertiser chart on page 8). In recent years, even pre- and post-game coverage has become a draw for advertisers. This year, for example, Sony will air nine PlayStation 2 spots during CBS's pregame coverage. While some mainstays of years past, like Nike and Master Lock, now shun the media frenzy, each game brings a host of marketers lining up to take their place. The world's largest advertiser, Procter & Gamble, has finally entered the scene, making its Super Bowl debut with a Charmin spot that touts the toilet paper as the "softest and strongest … for your end zone." Other first-timers include Staples and Levitra, which along with Cialis promises to deliver a showdown between erectile-dysfunction drugs.
From silly to serious, the game is always worth a watch. At least, that's what we think. Do consumers agree? We commissioned Opinion Dynamics Corp. in Cambridge, Mass., to find out. These are the results of a national telephone poll of 1,159 adults (52 percent female, 48 percent male) conducted Jan. 16-18 and Jan. 20.