Super Bowl Watch: Advertisers Start Queuing Up Even as NFL Ratings Dip


Super Bowl SB 51

It’s that time of year again—Super Bowl ad-tracking season. And while the presidential transition, a spark in the economy, a leveling off of auto sales and deepening troubles for traditional retailers all may influence the ultimate roster of advertisers in the Big Game—and how much they pay—there is one big thing looming over it all.

Is the NFL in trouble?

Regular-season TV ratings for NFL games have been significantly lower this year than a year ago after decades of seemingly inexorable increases. The league, pundits and others have blamed lots of things, including the distraction of the election season, fan reaction at the antics of some players who sit for the National Anthem and simple overexposure.

In fact, the NFL reportedly is considering terminating one of the most flagrant examples of its expansionist mindset: Thursday night games.

In any event, it’s likely very little of the fallout from this concern will affect the next Big Game per se, Super Bowl LI (that’s 51 in modern counting), to be broadcast by Fox from NRG Stadium in Houston on February 5, 2017.

Ad prices last year were up to $5 million for 30 seconds, and there are few indications of any slippage in that price this year—or slippage in demand for the ad slots. After all, as we’re well used to hearing, the Super Bowl is a national institution, drawing in all elements of the American population, way beyond the regular fans who determine the NFL’s regular season TV ratings.

And when it comes to the roster of advertisers, in the early going a few things are clear.

Avocados From Mexico is returning with its third consecutive Super Bowl ad, after the previous two helped the fruit continue to boost US sales. And, of course, it just so happens that guacamole consumption soars on Big Game Sunday.

Also, Kia, with its growing footprint in the US market, will be back as a Super Bowl advertiser, Ad Age said. Snickers will be there as usual, probably with some new take on its “you’re not you when you’re hungry positioning” which, over the past few years, has famously involved celebrities ranging from Betty White to Willem Dafoe.

But Butterfingers, which introduced its peanut butter cups with a Super Bowl ad, reportedly is returning to the sidelines. So, reportedly, is Toyota, which has been a Big Game regular over the past several years.

No doubt there will be some surprises as the roster of advertisers fills in over the coming weeks. And the use of social media by these brands to augment the actual TV ads before, during and after the Super Bowl telecast will surely continue to boom.