Super Bowl LI - The Numbers

  • Super Bowl LI was the second most cluttered game ever, with 51 minutes and 20 seconds of advertising and promos; ads accounted for 23% of the total broadcast.
  • Anheuser-Busch InBev was the top advertiser in the game with 3:30 minutes of ad time, followed by Deutsche Telekom at 3:00 minutes and Procter & Gamble at 2:30 minutes.
  • Auto was the lead category during the game, accounting for 8 spots and 7:00 minutes of ad time.
  • Marketers sharply reduced their use of 60+ second ads, perhaps as a concession to the rising cost of ad time. Only 14 spots were at least this long, the fewest since 2011.

More Than 50 Minutes of Ad Time

Measured from the opening kickoff to the final whistle in the overtime period, Super Bowl LI contained 51 minutes, 20 seconds (51:20 mm:ss) of national commercials, the second largest amount in history (2013 still holds the record at 51:40 mm:ss). The game itself lasted 3 hours, 47 minutes (including halftime) which means advertising accounted for 23 percent of the broadcast. By comparison, during the NFL regular season commercials accounted for 21 percent of an average game telecast.

Setting aside unpaid promotional spots from Fox and the NFL, the game featured a record-setting 41:30 minutes of air time from paying sponsors. The previous high was 41:00 minutes in 2014. Because the game went to overtime, Fox was able to insert an additional 2 minutes of paid messages and this pushed Super Bowl LI into the record books on yet another front.

Top Spenders

Excluding the promotional messages aired by Fox and the NFL, there were a total of 71 in-game spots aired by 57 different advertisers from 50 unique parent company owners. The difference in counts between advertisers and parent owners is due to some parents ran commercials from more than one of the advertisers they own. (Example: Procter & Gamble accounted for three advertisers in the game – Febreze, Mr. Clean and Tide).

Anheuser-Busch InBev was the top parent company in the game as measured by ad time, with 3:30 minutes of messaging. Deutsche Telekom was in second place with 3 minutes of ad time for its T-Mobile brand. Procter & Gamble aired 2 minutes, 30 seconds spread across three different brands.

Rookie Advertisers in the Super Bowl

The Super Bowl annually attracts a number of first-time advertisers, many of them relatively unfamiliar to consumers, who see the game as a valuable platform to increase awareness of their businesses. Super Bowl LI was no exception as 12 marketers made their debuts, a level comparable to recent years.

The 2017 rookies accounted for 16% of paid ad time. Three ad categories each claimed two spots on the rookie squad:
  • Mobile Gaming – Top Games USA for its Evony game; for World of Tanks
  • Personal Care Products – It’s A 10 Hair Care; Guthy-Renker for its Proactiv brand
  • Travel – Airbnb, Turkish Airlines
Other in-game first timers were the AMC Networks, American Petroleum Institute, Bai Beverages, Lumber 84, Netflix and Hawaiian King. Notably, two of these first-time advertisers (Airbnb and Lumber 84) addressed immigration issues within their ads as did one ad for Budweiser, leading to a notable political slant during this year’s spots.

More Than 40 Percent of 2016 Sponsors Did Not Return in 2017

Of the 43 parent companies that pitched messages in the 2016 game, 18 were absent in 2016 for an attrition rate of 42%. This is a bit lower than the 49% average attrition rate for the ten years from 2007-2016.

Longer Length Commercials: Automakers Lead the Way

Of the 71 in-game commercials from paying sponsors 14 were one minute or longer. That’s the fewest since 2011 when just 10 long-form ads appeared.

Auto manufacturers were again the most frequent users of long-form ads but at a lower rate than recent years. Auto accounted for 5 of the 14 long form ads (36%).

Top Categories

Despite a sharp reduction compared to previous years, auto manufacturers had the biggest presence of all ad categories in the game, accounting for eight spots and 7:00 minutes of ad time. Telecom was the second largest category with six units and 4:00 minutes of messages. Beer advertising, all from Anheuser Busch InBev, and movies were close behind. These four categories represented 44% of the total ad time from paying advertisers.

Auto, telecom, movies and beer are perennial top categories and Super Bowl viewers are accustomed to seeing lots of competing ads from them. But other smaller categories also had head-to-head rivals battling it out during the commercial breaks in Super Bowl LI.
  • Laundry Detergents – Tide vs. Persil
  • Streaming Video – Netflix vs. Hulu
  • Mobile Games – Mobile Strike vs. World of Tanks vs. Evony The King Returns
  • Restaurants – KFC vs. Wendy’s

Factory Auto Ads: A Significant Reduction

Auto manufacturers had their smallest footprint in the game since 2010. Seven different nameplates were promoted and total ad time was 7:00 mm:ss, down 2 full minutes from last year.

Acura, Hyundai, Jeep, Mini and Toyota did not return from their 2016 appearances. Their departures were partially offset by the addition of Alfa Romeo (which sponsored the halftime show), Lexus and Mercedes Benz.

As a comparison, from 2001 through 2010 the auto category averaged six spots and 3:45 of in-game ad time per year.


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