Super (Advertising) Bowl!

The Library attracts many researchers looking for older print advertising and as a result developed The Emergence of Advertising in America: 1850-1920 collection in American Memory using the collections of Duke University, and a publication from a couple of past Library employees, Advertising in America: the first 200 years. It is interesting to contrast the advertising of yesterday with the advertising of today.

Sun Life Stadium

Sun Life Stadium

This Sunday, February 7th, is a big day in advertising, one where many companies try out or launch new ads for television. It is also Super Bowl Sunday! How many of us watch the game as much for the advertising as for the game itself? I know I do!

Advertising is big business – especially during the Super Bowl. The cost for a 30 second spot has steadily increased over the years. For Super Bowl 1 in 1967 the average cost for a 30 second commercial was $40,000 (adjusted for inflation in 2007 dollars it would be $245,350)[1]. Now compare that with today where the 30 second spots for Super Bowl 44 are selling between $2.5 million and $2.8 million (actually down from $3.0 million for 2009).[2]

An interesting note on this years’ crop of commercials is that the U.S. Census Bureau is airing a commercial during the 3rd quarter of the game (and 2 during the pregame show) because this is the year for the decennial census. They have also put together a “Facts for Features” page for Super Bowl XLIV highlighting statistics for the cities of each team (New Orleans & Indianapolis) as well as for the host city (Miami). The Statistical Abstract for 2010 has summary information for college and professional football [PDF: 451 KB / 1 p.] from 1990 to 2008 highlighting the number of teams, game attendance and player salaries.

Green Bay Packers (#85 Max McGee) play Kansas City Chiefs (#22 Willie Mitchell) in Super Bowl 1967 at Los Angeles Coliseum

Green Bay Packers (#85 Max McGee) play Kansas City Chiefs (#22 Willie Mitchell) in Super Bowl 1967 at Los Angeles Coliseum

The teams playing this year are the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts. Follow these links for information on the teams and players. Perhaps you would rather test your knowledge of Super Bowl history, try the trivia game on the NFL website. For further research about the history of the NFL check out our guide, The Business of Professional Football and for Super Bowl history a subject search will show you the Library holdings.

So who is advertising this year? Take a look at this list of Who’s Buying What in the Super Bowl 2010 from Advertising Age. My favorite commercial so far is from Super Bowl 2003, Budweiser’s upside down clown. One co-worker’s favorite is the Electronic Data Systems’ (EDS) herding cats from Super Bowl 2000. Another co-worker and blogger for In the Muse: Performing Arts Blog, Pat Padua, mentioned his favorite event for this day is the Animal Planet Puppy Bowl.

What’s your favorite commercial or Super Bowl Sunday event?


[1] Advertising Age: Super Bowl 2007. Advertising History: 40 Years of Prices and Audience.

[2] Super Bowl Commercial Prices Fall for Second Time EVER by Emily Fredrix 01/11/10 6:28PM/ AP retrieved from


  1. Maya
    February 16, 2010 at 11:22 am

    My favorite commercial was the Doritos ad with the overly-protective little boy who slapped his mother’s date for eating his Dorito and dating his mother. It was simply cute and entertaining minus the cheesy aspect many of the other commercials possessed.

  2. mani
    March 8, 2010 at 2:38 am



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