"Shh! The commercials are on. I need to see this!"
No, this is not some parallel universe we are living in. This is just how big and huge and all-encompassing the Super Bowl has become.
The commercials within the broadcast of the big game on Sunday will be studied, analyzed and criticized as if they were Hollywood blockbusters. No, they are not bigger than the game itself, but the commercials represent a cultural touchstone for many Americans.
They also cost a lot of money. A premium 30-second commercial in Super Bowl 50 costs $5 million, according to Advertising Age (h/t Alison Dorf of the Tucson News Now).
The money that advertisers have paid over the years has reached astonishing proportions. The cost of the commercials has brought the networks $4.5 billion during the 50 years of the Super Bowl.
The commercials exceeded the $100,000 mark in 1973, the $500,000 mark in 1985, $1 million in 1995, $2 million in 2003, $3 million in 2009 and $4 million in 2013, according to Advertising Age.
A number of companies are buying Super Bowl ads for the first time in their history, joining stalwarts like Anheuser-Busch and Coca-Cola. Among the first-time buyers are Amazon, PayPal and outdoor clothing maker Marmot.
When a company advertises during the Super Bowl, it is, of course, reaching out to the biggest television audience of the year, but it is also doing a lot more than that. A company that is spending that much money on a 30-second advertisement is telling the American public that it has arrived, it is one of the industry leaders and it is deserving of recognition and respect.
However, that respect can go out the window if the commercial is not of a high quality or if it's not particularly memorable. What is the point of spending that much money to be seen if the message is not unique and important?
Social media plays a huge role in a commercial's performance. Volkswagen marketing manager Jeff Sayen told TheDrum.com that a hot commercial becomes a shared moment for viewers.
“The entertainment value of the spots themselves has inherently grown," Sayen said. "It provides a topic for conversation, and now with social media it’s almost instantaneous how people share the moment and the things that they engage with.”
Viewers are consumed by the matchup in Super Bowl 50 between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos. But the Super Bowl is about so much more than the game itself.
The Super Bowl is for hardcore football fans, casual football fans and non-fans alike. This is a shared cultural moment that nearly everyone partakes in.
Commercials usually go in one ear and out the other, but not during the Super Bowl. For the big game, advertisers pay millions to grab the viewers' attention and try not to let them get away under any circumstances.