AB InBev, P&G, PepsiCo Are the Biggest Super Bowl Ad Spenders

Anheuser-Busch InBev spent an estimated $41 million

a budweiser beer bottle
AB InBev was once again the biggest Super Bowl advertiser. Budweiser
Headshot of Richard Collings

Regardless of which metric you choose, the Super Bowl is the biggest advertising event of the year with some correspondingly impressive buys by the biggest spenders. This year, they include Anheuser-Busch InBev, Procter & Gamble and PepsiCo.

Super Bowl 54 likely generated more than $400 million in advertising revenue for Fox, which would mark a new record. It’s a testament to the fact that in an increasingly fragmented television landscape, the Super Bowl remains the odd outlier that continues to draw a large national audience from all demographics.

For this year’s Big Game, Anheuser-Busch InBev appears to be the winner, buying four 60-second spots for Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, Michelob Ultra Pure Gold and Budweiser. However, it is believed that AB InBev’s long-term relationship with the Super Bowl—the company has exclusive national alcohol advertising rights for the Big Game—affords it a steep discount from the going rate, which this year is as much as $5.6 million for a 30-second slot. If the global brewer had paid market rate for its four spots, it would have spent $44.8 million; its actual spend was an estimated $41 million.

Even with a discount, AB InBev is very likely still the No. 1 spender; the second biggest, PepsiCo, splashed out $31 million. Note that Sabra, which PepsiCo owns in partnership with the Strauss Group, also aired a spot during last night’s game. The company bought 30-second spots for Pepsi Zero Sugar, Mtn Dew Zero Sugar, SodaStream and Cheetos, plus a 60-second ad for Doritos.

P&G comes in a close third, taking out a 60-second spot showcasing a portfolio of brands, as well as a 30-second spot for beauty brand Olay, and five ads for Tide, bringing P&G’s total ad time in the game up to 2 minutes and 55 seconds. The CPG conglomerate likely spent $30 million on Sunday night.

It should be noted that Amazon was fourth, according to research and analytics firm Kantar, spending $26 million on two minutes and 30 seconds of air time.

Automaker Hyundai and its affiliates, meanwhile, were in the mix with three 60-second spots for the namesake Hyundai brand, luxury line Genesis and affiliate Kia.

Hyundai, however, ranked below Amazon, according to Kantar. While the Korean automaker has a financial stake in Kia and Kia in turn has a stake in some of Hyundai’s entities, Kia operates as a separate entity. As a result, Kantar does not credit Kia’s advertising to Hyundai.

AB InBev was also the biggest advertiser last year, unloading $52 million, while Amazon was second with an outlay of $23 million. Alphabet (Google), Deutsche Telekom and Toyota tied for third at $18 million each, according to Kantar.

Automotive as a whole was again one of largest spenders among industries, taking out seven 60-second ads and a 30-second spot. In addition to Hyundai, there were ads from GMC’s Hummer, Volkswagen’s Audi and Porsche, Fiat Chrysler’s Jeep and Toyota.

The food category showed up big, in part because of PepsiCo’s Cheetos, Doritos and Sabra. Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts and Pringles and Kraft-Heinz’s Heinz ketchup and Planters, as well as Hershey’s Reese’s, Mars’ Snickers and Avocados From Mexico all had airtime during the game.

Financial services and tech companies also made their presence known. Quicken Loans, Discover, New York Life and TurboTax all had ads, as did Facebook, Microsoft, Alphabet’s Google, SquareSpace and Amazon. In addition, streaming services Hulu, Amazon Studios, Disney+ and Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Quibi had supporting roles in the Big Game.

The average cost of a 30-second spot during Super Bowl 53 in 2019 was about $4.5 million, according to Kantar, the second-most expensive ever. That equated to about $336 million in revenue.

Super Bowl 2017 still holds the record with in-game ad spending of $390 million, the research firm noted, with the average spend on a 30-second ad of around $4.7 million. The average cost of a 30-second Super Bowl ad was nearly $4.4 million in 2018, about $4.5 in 2016, nearly $4.1 million in 2015 and almost $3.9 million in 2014.

Nearly 194 million adults in the U.S. were expected to watch Super Bowl 54, according to the National Retail Federation, and spend a little over $17 billion. About 80% of the total was likely spent on food, 11% on team apparel and accessories, and 9% on televisions, according to a survey conducted by Prosper Insights and Analytics.

@RichCollings richard.collings@adweek.com Richard Collings is a retail reporter at Adweek.