News & Events

What Makes Super Bowl Advertising Worth the Multi–Million Spend?

February 3, 2016

Paying a fortune for a 30–second commercial can still make business sense for brands, but only if advertising goes way beyond the game, say CASSIES Co–Chairs

Toronto, ON, — February 3, 2016 — While football fans in Canada and around the world are getting fired up for Super Bowl 50 this coming Sunday, the collective business conscience will still be mulling whether or not it was worth spending up to US$5 million on a 30–second ad, long after the hotly anticipated game is over.

According to the Co–Chairs of the annual CASSIES Awards, which celebrate the best in Canadian advertising through the lens of business effectiveness, advertising during the big game can be justified. However, the green light should only be provided if brands can take advantage of the pre–game hype about their advertising, as well as creating an echo effect after the final whistle blows. "The Super Bowl gives you the stage, the permission to use the spotlight. But what you do with that stage outside of the spot is much more important," says Tony Matta, CMO, Kraft Heinz Canada and Co–Chair of the 2016 CASSIES.

Marketers have long been attracted to the massive stage provided by the Super Bowl spectacle. Last year's game shattered audience viewership records across North America, with 9.23 million viewers in Canada (55 per cent of the country) and over 114 million viewers in the US.

Matta adds that brands should be thinking about Super Bowl advertising as an ‘eco–system' marketing model, whereby marketing value and ROI is generated by stories about the campaigns that find their way into the mainstream news, as well as spurring online discussion, content and talk–value.

Last year, Super Bowl 49 was the most tweeted in the game's history, as well as being the most active on Facebook, where 65 million users jumped into the conversation. This year's game promises a record–number of viewers who will tune into the game simultaneously on their smartphones.

According to Jill Nykoliation, CEO of Toronto–based Juniper Park\TBWA and Co–Chair of the 2016 CASSIES, the allure of Super Bowl advertising won't soon fade for marketers, but whether brands are willing to entertain the audience should be a deciding factor on whether to pay the massive price tag. "Entertainment is inherently part of the Super Bowl environment – the medium gives you the context of what you need to do as a marketer," she says.

"During the rest of the year, as a marketer, I am by default assuming that people aren't watching TV first and foremost. They may have it turned on, but they're simultaneously on their phone or reading something on their tablet," adds Nykoliation. "With the Super Bowl, it's reversed."

One major concern facing Canadian broadcasters and marketers is CRTC's decision to ban commercial swapping, referred to as simsub, beginning in 2017. Matta says despite the protests, broadcasters will eventually need to face the music. "The reality is that consumers will inevitably consume the media they want to consume, when, where and how they want. The channels already exist for them to do so. As Canadians we should be looking at how we can capitalize on this and innovate. Not just simply put up barriers." The average price tag for a Canadian 30–second spot runs approximately $200,000.

While the multi–million dollar price tag makes it virtually impossible for smaller brands to buy commercial time, both Matta and Nykoliation say there are still ways for marketers to crash the party and take advantage of the hype. Either way, this Sunday's game will again be a showdown on the marketing front, just as much as on the field. "I'm excited about the Super Bowl ads," says Matta. "I want to see the great work that comes from it. The great thing about the Super Bowl is, because it's so expensive, there's so much thought that's put into the work. It's not frivolous."

The prominent CASSIES, are Canada's only industry awards platform that recognizes business effectiveness based on rigorous, published case studies. Celebrating its 23rd anniversary, the CASSIES awards show will be held on February 18th at The Carlu in Toronto. Tickets to the show can be purchased by visiting


The pre–eminent CASSIES awards show, celebrating its 23rd year, is Canada's only industry awards recognizing business effectiveness based on rigorous published cases. The CASSIES are presented by the Institute of Communication Agencies (ICA), The Association of Creative Communications Agencies (A2C) and the Association des professionnels de la communication et du marketing (APCM) and produced by strategy magazine. The current 2015 sponsors are: Canada Post – Direct Mail Partner; Millward Brown – Judging Sponsor; One Agency — Creative Sponsor; and DDB Public Relations — Public Relations Sponsor. Since its inception in 1993, the CASSIES has recognized the business achievements of over 500 campaigns from Canada's top advertisers and communications agencies. All award–winning case studies can be viewed in the Case Library section of the CASSIES website at as well as on (World Advertising Research Centre).

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For more information, or to request an interview, please contact:

Paige Calvert, DDB Public Relations
604.608.4421 |