The $5 Million Dollar Ponder

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Oh yes, Super Bowl 50 is now over & done (at the point you are reading this)…and at this given point in time (Saturday evening, February 6th) I have not the slightest idea whether the Broncos, or the Panthers have taken the win. Quite frankly, I am more of a college sports gal – but it’s fun to watch the Super Bowl with the other 114.4 million viewers out there in the U.S. (based of the statistics from last year here)….


The year is 2016 – and guess how much the price was for a 30 second Super Bowl ad?

$5 MILLION DOLLARS.

Let’s just let that sink in for a bit (and check out this article here if you were wondering where this fact came from). I mean c’mon, that’s 5 times the amount that Dr. Evil said with dramatic effect in Austin Powers (but if we’re getting technical, significantly less than his “$100 billion dollars” shout out…).

Some of us may not even see/acquire that much money in a lifetime. Yet, here we’ve got companies able to just drop $5 mill. for 30 seconds of America’s time. Thank goodness most people have enough of an attention span to last that given amount of time?

For most of us, Super Bowl commercials come & go. We may review them in our Marketing lectures in college. It used to be I was straight up entertained by any & all Super Bowl commercials. When I think back on it, one of the only commercials that really sticks out in my mind is when a young boy dressed like Darth Vader using ‘the force’ turns on a new Volkswagen Jetta that’s sitting in the driveway (when secretly, his Dad is turning on the car from inside the house – if you don’t remember this commercial, check it out here). It’s incredible to me that this commercial aired in 2011, that was 5 years ago! Did it make me want to buy a Jetta? Nope, not one bit. Yet the cleverness, the targeted audience of Star Wars lovers, and the emotional appeal behind the commercial was very captivating.

Now, ads are just…interesting.

By the way, thanks Mountain Dew…for spending $5 million (?) to get “Puppy Monkey Baby” stuck in my head for all of eternity (insert straight faced emoji here because I’ve already laughed enough at the initial shock of watching the creepiness of the ad).

Instead of gluing my eyes to the TV during commercial breaks, I’m typically getting up to refill my plate of delicious snacks, grabbing a new refreshment, or any other random act that makes me turn/walk away. But then it struck me…the $5 million dollar ponder:

If I had a 30 second ad that I paid $5 million dollars for, what would I show to the 114.4 million viewers out there?

  • Would it be for a fancy new gadget, or a brand new blender that can miraculously chop up anything you put into it?
  • Would it be for a brand new delicious craft beer I took a liking to, or a piece of technology that enhanced my quality of life?
  • Would it show me grabbing the keys to a new house, or a vacation of a lifetime?
  • Would it be for a brand new exercise that’s changed my life, or a new lotion that has all the anti-aging ingredients that you could possibly put into one bottle?

No. None of those things at all. But I could imagine that you could rattle off thousands of commercials that feature the following.

You know what I would show in those 30 seconds?

An elapsed timeline of all the hugs & smiles I’ve ever shared with people in my lifetime.

Now before you hit the “X” in the top right corner because you’re thinking “Man this girl is crazy...” hear me out. All of the hugs & smiles I’ve shared in my lifetime are worth every bit of those $5 million dollars. In fact, they would be worth even more than $1 billion dollars.

Now, I know I am only one viewer/consumer – but when it comes to advertisements the one’s that capture me are the ones that have emotional appeal. You show me a story completely unrelated to your product but that pulls at my heart strings, you’ve captured my attention. Also, think about how many of these emotional appeal advertisements are captivating to a universal audience?

That’s where smiles & hugs come in. 

A vast majority of people can relate to the following two categories. Think about all the bear hugs, embraces, radiating smiles, sheepish grins, etc. that you’ve experienced in your lifetime. They are absolutely priceless (Ok, so maybe this seems more like a Mastercard ad…), but I am not trying to sell a credit card here. I’m just trying to evoke a feeling. The feeling that comes bursting at the seams, or should I say the experience of “all the feels” when we give/receive a hug, or smile. Recall all of the special connections and people in your life that you’ve shared these particular moments in life with. In the future, it would be amazing to see that type of highlight reel.

That to me, is beyond worth $5 million dollars…even if it is just for 30 seconds.


If you paid $5 million for a 30 second Super Bowl ad, what would you share? I can’t wait to hear in the comments below!

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20 thoughts on “The $5 Million Dollar Ponder

  1. This is the cutest blog post I’ve read in a long time. At first I was thinking WHAT THE?! 5 million dollars is absolutely ridiculous. But then I remembered that the reach is over 100 million people, so I guess in correlation with that – it’s not too surprising.

    Your idea for what you would share is beautiful. Personally, I loved the drunk driving ad (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rb2VXVmUga4), and think any kind of cost associated to healthy reminders is worth the investment. Especially if you can make it memorable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, Alyssa! 🙂 Right?! Even with the reach…I still have that question in my mind!! I need to read up more about the return on investment for 30 second Super Bowl ads. I also need to check out what this years viewership numbers came in at, did it surpass last years, level off, or decrease? Absolutely – that was a very stand out ad and you’re right about costs associated with healthy reminders that are worth the investment.

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  2. I would love to see the ROI these companies actually get related to their commercials. I like watching them for the entertainment factor but I didn’t feel like grabbing a Mountain Dew after seeing Puppy Monkey Baby (I did however, have nightmares that night! ;)).

    I would love to put out an ad that would go against the consumerism mindset that commercials normally have. Much like you would show what has made you happy, I would want to show that happiness can occur without having to buy things

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me too, Thias! It’s crazy how so many commercials are completely unrelated to the product – I am still having nightmares, too about Puppy Monkey Baby lol! I like your idea a ton, I am appreciating the creativity of what other people would do for a 30 second spot!

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  3. The Darth Vader VW ad is my favorite spot ever. 🙂 That will always be synonymous with “Super Bowl ad” to me! And I love your perspective on this, as usual! So totally agree that hugs and smiles and love and good vibes are what life is all about, not all the stuff the advertisers pay loads to convince us we need. And that’s something that most people could stand to be reminded of!

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    1. Isn’t it wonderful!? When I looked up what year it was from, I couldn’t believe it was 5 years ago that it aired! Absolutely! I think it would be fun to invite all PF bloggers to film a little 30 second ad that they would share. 🙂 There is some serious creativity out there!

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  4. Hmmm…this is so tricky. I think I’d like to do something that either promotes literacy and/or something that showcases all the awesome things teenagers do. I get to see both of those things every day of my life, but I think people generally don’t focus on either of those things. Such a fun idea for a post. I’ll be thinking about this all day!

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    1. Those are wonderful ideas, Penny! When you aren’t involved with something that’s very neat, it’s hard to know the progress that’s being made. I don’t spend time with teenagers often, but what a great way to put that into perspective.

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  5. This is a tough one! I suppose I would use that spot to promote a great charity that could help people in need. For instance, from current events maybe a way for people donate to Flint Michigan to help with their water issues. Something simple like partnering with Venmo or PayPal where you give username they can send money to through their apps. I think if I’m watching the game and something came asking for a $2 donation I might be inclined to do that on the spot. Even if a fraction of that 114 million viewers donated it would be a success!

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    1. Vic, this is an awesome perspective and ad choice! A current event really hits home, and I believe would absolutely make people move to action. Partnering with PayPal and Venmo (especially when PayPal had that commercial around ‘future money’ and not old money) would be fantastic. I feel like every year there’s a few ads that are moving like this, and I can’t recall all too many. That is such a great idea though!

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  6. I feel like if you’re basically ensuring a captive audience, make ’em watch/take in stuff they wouldn’t already. So it might well just be me shouting at them, “Stop spending money you don’t have!” Or something else utterly useless when you get right down to it.

    Then again, I don’t like getting in front of a camera, so I guess this’d be a terrible idea for me anyway. Maybe I’d just put up placards like in the silent movies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great point!! I like the shouting idea when you know you have that vast of an audience. 🙂 You could always do a voice over of a message you would like to shout?! The silent movie approach would definitely be neat as well because it’s not used nearly as often.

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  7. We Canadians don’t get to see these fancy American Superbowl ads most of the times, we need to watch them on Youtube later. 😦 My favourite so far is the Darth Vader VW ad. To answer your question, it’d be hard for me to spend $5M for 30 seconds in the first place. I’d donate 1/5 of that money to a charity and purchase $4M of dividend stocks to cover our expenses. At 3% that’d give us $120k per year, more than enough money for us.

    Having said that, if I were to create an ad it would maybe get people to understand the idea of living below your means so you can put money aside for saving/investing every month.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I never realized that in Canada you didn’t quite get a chance to see some of the Super Bowl ads! I am always learning something new. That’s a fantastic answer, and I feel like I should do a follow up post of what I would do with $5M versus just limiting myself to a 30 second ad. I guess the idea of $5M being an option to spend hasn’t quite caught my mind! Teaching the idea behind living below your means in order to save & invest is a great idea – especially since many people do not consider that as even being feasible!

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