The Top 10 Most Expensive Super Bowl Commercials

The year 1984 was a unique one. The National Football Conference, or NFC, were dominant during the decade, winning all but two Super Bowls from 1981 to 1990. But in 1984, the Raiders were able to breakthrough when they plucked the Redskins by a score of 38 to 9 in one of the most dominant performances by an American Football Conference, or AFC, team in the Super Bowl. The Raiders then were playing out of Los Angeles instead of Oakland, moving from the Bay Area in 1982 and giving Los Angeles its only football championship. It eventually went back to Oakland in 1994.

And in 1984, Apple released a commercial inspired by the George Orwell classic to promote Macintosh. The commercial turned out to be the most memorable part of the game. It has since become iconic and the standard to which other commercials are based on. In a manner similar to how Apple is changing our lives through its tablets and smart phones, the company also changed the way commercials were made back then.

Fast-forward to this century and the cost of Super Bowl placement ads have multiplied several times over. In 1991, when the New York Giants nipped the Buffalo Bills, a 30-second ad only cost six figures. In 2012, when the Giants won again by nipping the New England Patriots, the figure had zoomed to more than $3 million every 30 seconds. That is expected to go up to $4 million for the 2013 game.

So which companies have paid the most just to have an ad shown during the big game? Here is a list of the top 10 most expensive Super Bowl commercials based on the amount that they paid to the network.


10 Chrysler, Imported from Detroit (2011) - $12.4 million

This is the most expensive mini-movie to ever be shown during the Super Bowl. A 30-second spot at that time cost $3.1 million. The ad featured the rapper Eminem and promoted the revival of the American auto industry. It ran for more than two minutes and cost Chrysler $12.4 million. The game itself had the Green Bay Packers beating the Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-25.


9 Budweiser, Delivery Truck Bridge (2010) - $5.8 million

The network charged $2.9 million for every 30 seconds. Budweiser presented an ad that ran for one minute and showed how a community would do everything to save a bridge crucial for the delivery truck of Budweiser to make it to their town. Budweiser has always been known for their memorable ads, especially the croaking frogs of the 90s. As for the game, the New Orleans Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts, 31-17.


8 Pepsi, Joy of Pepsi (2002) - $5.7 million

In one of the most discussed Super Bowl ads, Britney Spears transcended different eras as she appeared in Pepsi commercials aired through the years from the 1950s. The network charged $1.9 million for every 30 seconds and the Pepsi ad ran for a minute and a half. The ad was a talking point for weeks after, rivaling the discussion on the actual game that saw Tom Brady win his first ring as the New England Patriots defeated the St. Louis Rams, 20-17.


7 Audi, The Chase (2009) - $5.6 million

it was not even supposed to be the most expensive Super Bowl ad for that year. Pepsi had reserved a 90-second spot for their new ad featuring Britney Spears and Bob Dole. At the then going-rate of $2.8 million for every 30 seconds, that would have totaled an astounding $8.4 million. Alas, it was banned due to its explicit sexual connotations. Audi’s ad about its 2009 four-door sports car that featured a reenactment of a classic car chase took home the title of most expensive ad for the year. The Pittsburgh Steelers, meanwhile, took home the Super Bowl title after beating the Arizona Cardinals, 27-23.


6 Coca-Cola, It’s Mine (2008) - $5.4 million

The network rate for a 30-second ad was $2.7 million. Coca-Cola took a one-minute spot for its cute commercial set during a Macy’s Day Parade. In it, the inflatable versions of Stewie of the “Family Guy” and Underdog, a cartoon superhero from the 90s, duked it out as they fought for a runaway bottle of Coca-Cola. The ad was fresh and innovative, just like the catch of David Tyree that helped the New York Giants upset the perfect season sought by the New England Patriots, 17-14.


5 General Motors, Robot (2007) - $5.2 million

The economy was about to be hit further by the recession and GM encapsulated it with an ad that featured a robot getting fired after dropping a screw on the assembly line. The rate then was $2.6 million per 30 seconds. As for the game, the Chicago Bears dropped its chance of repeating its 1986 glory after it lost to the Indianapolis Colts, 29-17.


4 ESPN Mobile, Sports USA (2006) - $4.8 million

For $2.4 million per 30 seconds, ESPN unveiled its mobile capabilities that featured unlimited sports access. Those who had access to this service would learn how the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Seattle Seahawks, 21-10.


3 Cadillac, 0-60 in Under Five Seconds (2005) - $4.6 million

Spots then cost $2.3 million every 30 seconds. Cadillac showcased their three new V-series vehicles that can reach 60 mph in less than five seconds. The Patriots won by beating the Philadelphia Eagles, 24-21, in a close game.


2 Subway’s, Make-Up-for-Eating-Bad-Not-Being-Bad (2004) - $4.4 million

With Christian Seaborn on the forefront of Subway’s “Eat Fresh” campaign, the company tried to explain the benefits of eating healthy to viewers at a cost of $2.2 million every 30 seconds. The Patriots certainly felt strong and healthy after beating the Carolina Panthers, 32-29.


1 Reebok, Terry Tate, Office Linebacker (2003) - $4.2 million


The shoe manufacturer had hired Terry Tate as its office linebacker who would hand out terrible pain to those who do not obey office policies. At $2.1 million for every 30 seconds, the ad would end up with Tate exclaiming “Wooh! Bitch!!” The Oakland Raiders must have felt the pain after getting beat by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 48-21.

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