Secrets of the Super Bowl Commercials! How Much Kate Upton Costs and Who Got Rejected

More than $4 million for 30 seconds of Kate Upton? For some folks, it's worth it

By Leslie Gornstein Feb 01, 2013 3:30 PMTags
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How much money does it take to have a celebrity like Jimmy Fallon or Kate Upton in a Super Bowl ad?
—Teek, New Hampshire, via Twitter

Plenty of people who would pay their life savings for five seconds of Kate Upton's patented Jigglevision. But I have a more specific answer for you: We're talking an estimated $1 million—at least—just to shoot the spot, not including the breathtaking cost for Super Bowl ad time: an average of between $3.6 and $3.8 million this year.

That's not the only question I've gotten about Super Bowl ads this week. Let's tackle a few more. (Ha! See what I did there?)

Is it really worth it to pay all that much to get a Super Bowl ad, even if your ad does have Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen?
—M.U., via Twitter

Well, yeah.

As Dean Rueckert, president of Rueckert Advertising & Public Relations in Albany, NY, puts it to me: "$3.6 million is an astronomical amount of money for a 30-second spot. But with an audience of 100 million viewers, including men, women, and kids of all ages, the cost comes down to just over 3 cents per person. Few other mediums can compete with that."

Do stars like Kate Upton usually charge more if they know they're going to be in a Super Bowl ad?
—Yanna J., via  Facebook

"My experience is that celebs don't necessarily charge more," says Tripp Westbrook, partner at the Firehouse ad agency. "What is interesting is that you often see celebs who don't normally do commercials say yes to those that will run on the Super Bowl. This may be because the concepts are usually better, budgets are better and the exposure is better."

Samsung Mobile

Is it hard to get an ad during the Super Bowl? I would imagine that a lot of companies have the money to buy one. Is it a competition?
—Qwikbred, via Twitter

Not really.

"The NFL has about 60 spots" every year, Brian Steinberg of Advertising Age tells me. "A good chunk of them are purchased by incumbents--companies who have multi-year deals with the NFL. I guess if you don't move fast enough you could lose out on a spot, but then again, Super Bowl ads aren't for everybody, and the ad agencies know that. Not every company has something to say at the time the Super Bowl runs."

Is there one Super Bowl ad that's really considered the best of all time?
—Stone Cat, via Twitter

Yep: This one.

Have any ads ever been too controversial to run?
—Sherlock Jones, via Twitter

Oh yeah. Every year, it seems that the network hosting the Super Bowl punts some would-be advertiser into the rejection zone, but usually, the advertiser edits the spot so it can make the cut.

This year, for example, "There was a Hyundai ad that showed a guy's butt crack and [CBS] asked that the ad have less butt crack," Steinberg says. And of course, we all know about the Sodastream commercial that got a makeover after CBS asked that references to rival brands be removed.

Ads that are rejected outright (such as Pornhub's latest effort), are often more of a publicity stunt than an genuine bid for Super Bowl eyeballs, Steinberg says.

Well, we'll always have Kate Upton's jiggle.