PRODUCING COMMERCIALS FOR Super Bowl® & BEYOND
Revised October 2023
The Super Bowl®, along with other live, high-profile events, represent a unique opportunity for brands to engage with an extremely large and predictable demographic. The rewards for these commercials and their extensions into other media can be significant – highly-rated spots can receive special recognition as ‘winners,’ with amplification and free press well beyond the initial investment of the media buy and the production costs. Especially successful campaigns have become part of popular culture, amplifying the advertiser’s message well after the event. Due to the pre-event and post-event activities and distribution, brands should plan for owned, earned, and paid media.
There are additional complexities to take into consideration for global events, such as the Olympics, World Cup, and Awards shows. These can include market, version, and language nuances. These events also present opportunities to leverage assets beyond just the Super Bowl or other singular events (read more below under Cost & Production Optimizers). Below are a few key dates in 2024:
- Super Bowl 2024: Feb 11, 2024
- 96th Academy Awards: Mar 10, 2024
- NCAA Basketball March Madness®: Mar 19-Apr 8, 2024
- 2024 Olympics: Jun 26-Aug 11, 2024
In such an environment, brands often invest heavily to create impactful content, eliminate perceived risk, and ensure success. Despite a reported decline in brand recall from viewers of Super Bowl® 2023 (AdAge), CBS is confirming that ad sales have paced ahead of schedule and were virtually sold out by November 1, 2023 (Adweek). With media placement rates of $7.5 million per 30-second spot in 2024, there is great pressure on advertisers to make the most of their buy, especially considering that other advertisers are also investing heavily to create breakthrough content to highlight their own brands.
We’ve seen clients’ expenses total as much as $10 million dollars for campaigns premiering during the Super Bowl®, and while most spots cost a fraction of that number (ranging from $1-3M), budgeting for individual executions can be complicated. When budget planning, there are the typical costs, plus additional production drivers and optimizers, which can take on a heightened value for content created for the Super Bowl®.
Cost & Production Drivers
Cost & Production Optimizers
The following outlines the most impactful cost drivers for most Super Bowl® content creation.
- Length of spots: The network generally sells their ad time in 30-second increments. However, brands can purchase multiple slots and/or contiguous time to support longer spot lengths. Ads from 30-2 minutes will often appear. If a longer length is chosen, brands should budget accordingly to support the production costs necessary to create longer content.
- Additional Content: Since the investment is so great, marketers often create anticipatory or post-air content in the form of broadcast, online teasers, or follow-up ads to build awareness of their Super Bowl® All associated content should be included in both the project schedule and budget. Additionally, most brands also tie in other media or experiential events to their Super Bowl® message at the actual event or in the market, further increasing the content and investment required to deliver a connected and impactful brand experience.
- Stakeholder Alignment: Due to the increased cost and attention, Super Bowl® content is typically subject to a higher degree of client stakeholder scrutiny. Often, approval by the CEO is necessary. Allowing time in the schedule for reviewing creative concepts, final output, and addressing feedback is advised. The limited availability of senior leadership or the number of required approvals can lead to significant overages if feedback is shared too late.
- Compressed Timelines: The Super Bowl® is February 11, 2024; spot submission dates are immovable. Managing the timelines for content creation will be critical for the project to stay on budget. The months before Super Bowl® are a very busy time for the production industry; limited availability of production, post-production, and visual effects resources cause costs to rise as the event gets closer. Creative development should take place as far upstream as possible, allowing production to take place before the January rush.
- VFX: Super Bowl® ads often employ a high degree of visual effects, and under the compressed timelines of Super Bowl® ad production, VFX costs can be more expensive than normal.
- Celebrity Talent: For greater attention, projects often include celebrity talent, either on-camera or voice-over. Fees for appearance in Super Bowl® ads can be a significant investment. Additionally, Glam Squads (hair, make-up, stylist) and other celebrity requirements (travel, motorhomes, wardrobe, misc.) can reach up to $100k per celebrity, per day. During COVID-19, celebrity talent often required production to take place where they were located. This can further complicate production plans, especially when there is more than one celebrity engaged.
- Celebrity Directors: When celebrity talent is used, feature, episodic, or celebrity directors might be engaged. These directors generally have a higher cost – not only in their rate but often in how they shoot. They may require more expensive and larger crews, more typical of their feature or episodic productions.
- Licensed Music: Recognizable music tracks are often used in Super Bowl® These licensed tracks generally come at a premium for Super Bowl® use. When negotiating, it is important to ensure the track is available for all derivative versions, and will not be used for another advertiser’s Super Bowl® ad.
- Packaging and Point of Sale: Another opportunity to amplify marketers’ Super Bowl® message is through packaging and point of sale. Integrating the advertising message or big idea is a good way to extend exposure and connect to the campaign. While printing costs are not traditionally part of an advertising budget, the 20 weeks+ lead time for printing and distribution requires creative alignment far earlier than typical advertising content.
- Trademarks: Please note that most terms and logos associated with the NFL are trademarked and cannot be used in association with advertising without express written permission from the NFL. Examples include team names, logos, Super Bowl®, Super Sunday®, and many more.
The following outlines opportunities that can help mitigate the high cost of Super Bowl® content creation.
Upstream Planning: Plan for Super Bowl® production far in advance with a goal of producing the content before the end of December. Resources become stretched and unavailable in January as the Super Bowl® Producing early leaves more time for VFX, as well as getting work in front of key stakeholders with enough time to pivot as necessary. Upstream planning also provides advertisers the opportunity to look holistically at their overall media and content plan to determine how their brands will show up for a more extended time.
- State Tax Incentives: An effective way to mitigate increased costs is to produce content in a state offering a tax incentive or rebate. Such rebates can range from 10-30%, with some states offering more for filming in regions outside of major cities. For example, Illinois offers a particularly generous 30% tax incentive, which includes agency fees if the agency is also located in Illinois.
- Virtual Production: Virtual production is a new technology that provides the ability to shoot scenes that appear to take place in distant locations, all on one sound stage. Virtual production may lower costs by eliminating the need to travel and lower the production’s carbon footprint. Virtual production can be particularly useful when filming celebrities against distant and/or varied backgrounds. With the limited availability of Virtual Stages (Volumes), scheduling early is imperative.
- Repurposing Content: Cutting down longer Super Bowl® ads or other high-profile events into shorter 30s and/or 15s for other uses can extend the life of a concept and help amortize production costs. It’s good to remember that Award Shows, NCAA Basketball March Madness®, and other high-profile media opportunities quickly follow Super Bowl®, which can provide a good opportunity for reuse.
Irrespective of the creative concept selected for their Super Bowl® advertising, it’s important for marketers to understand associated drivers, optimizers, and watchouts to ensure success with few surprises. The skates are high; enjoy the game!
Alan Sadler, Chief Production Officer | email@example.com
Marisa Tweed, Group Account Director | firstname.lastname@example.org
Brent Perlman, Managing Advisor | email@example.com
2023 Updates: Jillian Gibbs, Alan Sadler
Advertising Production Resources (APR) is a Woman-Owned & Women-Led content creation optimization consultancy that oversees over $1 Billion in annual production spend and agency fees for 70+ advertisers around the globe. With hands-on production backgrounds in TV, Print, OOH, Digital Videos, Web, Mobile, Social, and Experiential, our 200+ team members around the world collaborate with advertisers and their creative resources to establish best practices & locate efficiencies in their content creation ecosystems. Our integrated approach and world-class benchmarking drives innovation, improves production acumen, and increases return on investment for all our clients.
The points of view and information contained in this document are those of APR and do not necessarily reflect an industry-wide point of view. APR cannot accept responsibility for any loss incurred by any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the material in this document. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure ac
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