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How Millions Paid to Celebrities for Super Bowl Ads Can Pay Off

Beware that if you step away during ad breaks while watching Sunday’s Super Bowl between the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers, you may miss a mini-Friends reunion in an Uber Eats ad starring Ross and Rachel — well, actually David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston, playing themselves. Another, actual super-couple appear in the ad when David and Victoria Beckham turn up, as the two try to recall the name of her 90s pop group. So does rapper and singer Jelly Roll, and the minute-long spot closes with the big game’s half-time performer, Usher.

The Super Bowl remains the biggest televised annual event in the U.S., and celebrities have long been a staple of the must-see ads that punctuate the big game. This year, brands are shelling out $7 million per minute to advertise during the NFL’s big game — a price that has doubled since 2012. This year’s roster includes Tina Fey in an ad for Booking.com, John Cena in a FanDuel spot, Martin Scorsese for Squarespace, and Usher, again, joining forces with Christopher Walken for a BMW appearance coming in addition to the star-studded Uber Eats spot.

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While the production cost for Uber Eats’s minute-long spot isn’t clear, CNN reports that brands like Uber pay $15 million and $50 million for the total cost of a single ad. With broadcaster CBS charging $7 million just for the privilege of airing a 30 second spot, the pressure to spend big on production is even higher.

And the price tag for all of that talent to shill for a brand — which typically amounts to a day or two’s work for these stars — can get as high as $10 million to $15 million.

Larry David’s fee for a hilarious FTX ad that aired during the 2023 Super Bowl netted the Curb Your Enthusiasm star $10 million, sources confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter. Ben Affleck, whose ad for Dunkin’ riffing off the star’s viral meme aired during last year’s Super Bowl, also netted a reported $10 million to appear in the spot — which he helped conceive and create through his production house.

The Monday following Affleck’s ad debut was reportedly Dunkin’s best-ever.

“We ran it once and got 7 billion media impressions, and it kind of kickstarted the year,” Dunkin’ President Scott Murphy told Entrepreneur of the brand’s debut Super Bowl spot. The Affleck-led blitz continued with new spots throughout 2023 and what seems to be the launch of a second leg of the star’s partnership with the brand when he appeared in a new ad at last month’s Grammys.

The cost of getting an A-lister on board for a Super Bowl ad also had a multi-platform payoff for companies, if they can find a celebrity willing to lend their own personal brands for a spot. This is no small feat, according to a WME agent who told CNN that the right fit is necessary; he saw dozens of lucrative offers rejected, the network reports.

For deep-pocketed brands who do find that organic fit, the millions paid out for a day or two of work from the Schwimmers and Annistons of the world is worth it, according to Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, as they’re not just buying one precious minute on a Sunday night in front of America’s eyeballs.

“These celebrities, they’re not afraid of making a little fun of themselves and having a sense of humor,” he said on the Bloomberg Talks podcast this week. “But they also use their own social platforms to amplify the message out there. So it’s not just about the commercial — it’s about people talking about the commercials. It’s about the stars using their Instagram accounts to amplify the platform… that’s why it’s working out for us. And we think it’s worth the investment.”

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