The Costliest 30 Seconds in History?

Now that the Big Game is over and done with it is always entertaining and educational to reflect on the cost of a 30-second commercial during the game. However, once you discover the amount you need to spend to buy 30 seconds of the mass population’s attention on a certain day it quickly dawns on you: is this the best use of your marketing dollars? The going rate for a 30-second spot during this year’s football game between New England and Seattle stood at whopping $4.5 million dollars. That translates to a staggering $150,000 per second. That realization prompted our creative heads here at Marstudio to think of a way to make light of it. So we embarked on making a commercial of our own that could air at half time during the most watched sporting event of the year.

Concept Development

So it all started with a sketch and an idea that was presented at our Monday staff meeting in the first week of January. Our CEO had this idea to create an ad that would show how much time 30 seconds actually is and how fast $4.5 million dollars would be depleted just by sitting and watching it whittle down to zero. There were a few logistical challenges of course, time being the most crucial one. Most companies that think about running an ad at The Big Game usually plan as soon as the previous one ends. Of course this is Marstudio and we are all about taking on challenges. So the concept was hatched. Then our CEO went ahead and put his thoughts on paper essentially scripting the commercial so that we could visualize how to bring the concept to life.


We needed to make it simple yet powerful. So we decided on creating a counter that would literally show how that amount of money would be spent in 30 second. Of course once that realization is made then what? So we needed to tie that concept into what that money was spent on to begin with and finally was it worth it and what it would accomplish.

Animation Challenges

Once we solidified the concept then we made it into a storyboard and tried to identify the challenges of animating it. Right from the start we found some issues with creating a counter that could display that amount of money being spent in 30 seconds but that didn’t stop our Art Director from putting his research hat on and figuring it out.

Brand-Conscious Design

As soon as we found out how to overcome the animation challenges we set out to design the look. We knew that we wanted it to be as clean and crisp as possible so that the focus would be on the message. We still wanted it to be impactful. Of course we are a brand conscious firm so making the ad with our brand colors was a logical next step.

Video Production

Then came the execution. We knew that in order to create a commercial that was worthy of The Big Game’s half time slot we had to make sure it was going to compete with the rest of the line up. The design execution came naturally to us but we still had to go back and forth on how to orchestrate the animation so that it would resonate.

Audio Production

Finally the audio selection was upon us. We knew that we wanted something that not only would compliment the design it would also accentuate the message. We went through a number of background music selections and iterations till we finally found the perfect match. The audio of the ad is so in tune with the message at this point that we can’t really imagine any other song that would help make our point as well as this one does.

Everything came together at the end and we now had a Big Game commercial in our hands. Now what? Put it out there of course. And that is exactly what we did.

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