Money Spent on Super Bowl Ads is Humbling


I had no vested interest in rooting for either the New England Patriots or the Seattle Seahawks; all I wanted was a good game, and I think it was a Super Bowl for the ages.

While the ending was high drama, so was the amount that companies spent to advertise during the game.

A 30-second ad cost $4.5 million, and that does not include the cost to produce the ad. Estimates are that such production costs can  run $1 million and up.

While there have been a few stories showing what else companies could have done with $4.5 million, such as Youtube, Twitter, or Facebook ads, I like to think of it from another perspective.

According to the Social Security Administration, the average annual wage for an individual in the U.S. for 2013 was close to $45,000.

This implies that companies believe they are getting just as much value from one 30-second TV ad as they get from 100 people working every day for a full year! Or put it another way, a person earning $45,000 per year would have to work 100 years to generate as much value to a company as one 30-second ad during the Super Bowl. If we assume the average worker works about 50 years, then a lifetime worth of work is as valuable to a company as a 15-second ad. And one more way to look at the numbers – one worker’s annual salary is the equivalent of three-tenths of a second of a Super Bowl commercial.

To me, these comparisons are humbling. I like to think that what I do adds value to an organization, but it looks like I really need to step up my game.

And if I’m lucky enough to work productively for 50 years, maybe someone can sum up my lifetime contributions in a nice 15-second video.



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