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Thirty-second advertisement spots for this year's Super Bowl range between $3.5 million and $4 million, up from $3.1 million in 2011. The stakes are high, so advertisers are bringing their A-game.
"Clearly, almost no brand targets all of the 160 million people watching," says Kirk Wakefield, a professor at Baylor University's Hankamer School of Business to The Huffington Post. "But it better be a substantial amount of that 160 million."
Never mind that growing research shows the millions advertisers pay usually aren't worth the cost. CNBC says the game between the New York Giants and New England Patriots is expected to be the most-watched event of the year, and the 2012 edition may provide more than the usual bang for the buck.
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So we were curious, which companies have been the biggest ad spenders on the Super Bowl over the last decade?
1. Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE: BUD ) : Engages in brewing and selling beer in North America, Latin America, Europe, and the Asia Pacific. Market cap of $98.15B. Total ad spending (2002-11): $239.1 million. "The beer titan and its parent, inBev, have purchased more Super Bowl ads than any other company. In addition to Bud & Bud Light, the import brand Stella Artois made it on the air last year. AB virtually owns the Super Bowl; competitors haven't even tried to advertise. Bud Light has a massive lead as the best-selling beer in America, but Budweiser just slipped to No. 3 behind Coors Light."
2. Pepsico (NYSE: PEP ) : Engages in the manufacture, marketing, and sale of foods, snacks, and carbonated and non-carbonated beverages worldwide. Market cap of $102.26B. Total ad spending (2002-11): $174 million. "PepsiCo has spent more than double what Coca-Cola has on Super Bowl ads in the last decade, but remember that the company also has a huge snack business. Its brand of choice for Super Bowl ads in recent years has been Doritos. (The company has also done well by having viewers submit hilarious ads."
3. General Motors: Operates as a global automaker. Market cap of $37.91B. Total ad spending (2002-11): $82.8 million. "Times have sometimes been tough in the car business in the past four decades, but General Motors spends far more than its competitors on Super Bowl ads. Most recently, GM didn't buy ad time in 2009 or 2010, after saying the timing was wrong (it was in the midst of a federal bailout and a corporate bankruptcy). But it came back in 2011. Spending big doesn't always work out, as GM was overshadowed by its competitors."
4. Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS ) : Operates as an entertainment company worldwide. Market cap of $69.78B. Total ad spending (2002-11): $73.9 million. "You probably don't remember any ad except 'I'm going to Disney,' which takes place after the game. That's because Disney believes that advertising its movies during the Super Bowl, when a third of America is watching, is worth the money. In 2011, Disney's movie of choice to promote was 'Pirates of the Caribbean.'"
5. Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO ) : Distributes, and markets nonalcoholic beverages worldwide. Market cap of $153.22B. Total ad spending (2002-11): $66.8 million. "Coke loves to use Santa and polar bears, and the company will use the white, furry critters again this year. The brand is most memorable for its Mean Joe Greene spot in 1980, which the company spoofed with Troy Polamalu for Coke Zero in 2009. From 2000-2011, Coca-Cola only had ads in five Super Bowls. Over the past 10 years, Coke has used Stewie from 'Family Guy' and 'The Simpsons.'"
6. Viacom: Operates as an entertainment content company in the United States and internationally. Market cap of $26.45B. Total ad spending (2002-11): $45.9 million. "Just like Time Warner (Warner Bros.) has used the Super Bowl for movie ads, so, too, has Viacom for its Paramount Pictures. While the standard trailers are usually featured, the company goes big during the Super Bowl. Last year, Paramount promoted five films including 'Captain America,' 'Rango,' 'Super 8,' 'Thor' and 'Transformers.' How does parent company Viacom afford all these ads? Well, these five movies earned a combined $958 million, according to Box Office Mojo."
7. Comcast: Provides entertainment, information, and communications products and services in the United States and internationally. Market cap of $71.83B. Total ad spending (2002-11): $40.3 million. "This may be the first surprise on the list because fans wouldn't immediately recognize the parent company of NBC Universal and CNBC as a Super Bowl advertiser. This is the first Super Bowl broadcast on NBC under Comcast's watch, but the company has purchased ads in seven of the last 10 Super Bowls."
8. Time Warner (NYSE: TWX ) : Operates as a media and entertainment company in the United States and internationally. Market cap of $37.46B. Total ad spending (2002-11): $39.2 Million. "In eight of the last 10 years, Warner Bros. has used the Super Bowl to advertise its movies, sometimes buying two spots in a game. Movies advertised during the game include 'Batman Begins,' 'Starsky & Hutch,' 'Poseidon,' and 'Austin Powers in Goldmember.' Like most Super Bowl ads, there's no correlation between ad spending and box office success."
Interactive Chart: Press Play to compare changes in analyst ratings over the last two years for the stocks mentioned above. Analyst ratings sourced from Zacks Investment Research.
Kapitall's Rebecca Lipman does not own any of the shares mentioned above.