Facebook Rocks the 2020 Super Bowl

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Facebook Rocks the 2020 Super Bowl

By Samantha Brooks on 27 October, 2020

For the first time, Facebook aired an ad campaign during the 2020 Super Bowl. How much did it set them back? Donald Trump and Mike Bloomberg purchased their campaign ads for more than $US10 million, and since 30-second spots cost around $US5.6 million this year, Facebook probably spent more than $US10 million too.

Building on their “More Together” brand campaign, the Facebook ad was designed to promote Facebook groups, encouraging users with diverse interests to connect. The commercial, titled ‘Ready to Rock?’, featured Sylvester Stalone and Chris Rock in highlighting various ‘rock’ themed Facebook groups.

Facebook used groups such as Table Rock Lake, Moab Rock Climbers, Rock Buggies, and Rocky Balboa Going the Distance to promote the versatility of the Groups feature. Facebook received great praise for the campaign, which had a clever play on words and included actual people from the groups mentioned. 

Spectacular Super Bowl half-time advertising

Over recent years Facebook has noticed a decrease in usage rates in the US. What better way to reach your target audience than by advertising during the most-watched event of the year, with an expected 200 million Americans tuning in? 

During the 2019 Super Bowl, there were a total of 91 commercials taking up about 49 minutes and 30 seconds of airtime. There are ads from notable companies such as Coca Cola, Doritos, Google, and Microsoft. With such a large viewership, the cost to advertise during this time slot skyrockets – and only the biggest companies have the budget to spend on this kind of marketing. When they do, the results can be phenomenal.

There’s no surprise with the amount of money invested in these advertisements that the commercials end up being some of the most highly-praised in advertising. The Super Bowl half-time show has brought us the likes of Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” (2014), Snickers’ Betty White ad (2010) and Always’ “Like a Girl” (2015). 

Why spend $US10 million to advertise to users who don’t pay you?

Facebook isn’t typically in need of advertising – most would know it as a powerhouse in advertising facilitation, instead. In the past Facebook has relied solely on word of mouth to promote the platform, and for good reason – it’s almost unheard of to not have a Facebook account, and the platform is widely considered a cultural phenomenon. 

The way in which platforms like Facebook make money is by selling advertising space to marketers. When this space is purchased, the price is negotiated based on the number of people reached, and how many people are actually engaged with what they’re seeing. Generally, this is referred to as selling audience attention. 

However, Facebook’s data showed that with increasing use of competitor platforms, usage was declining – and when your key revenue source is the sales of audience attention to advertisers, getting eyes back on their Facebook feed is important. With usage down, so was advertiser spending as businesses moved to spread their budget across platforms. 


With the implementation of the Ready to Rock campaign at the 2020 Super Bowl in February, Facebook saw a significant return on their advertising spend. In the months following the Super Bowl, we saw the escalation of the global pandemic COVID-19, continuing natural and human-made disasters, and world-wide interest in the Black Lives Matter movement. The year has proved to be chock-full of ‘excitement’, and many are choosing to stay up-to-date through social media – namely, Facebook. 

Moreover, with lockdown orders in many countries across the globe, screen time was bound to increase. Having their advertisement aired back in February was a great move to kick-start awareness before the year of natural disasters, a global pandemic, and a social movement or two.

On top of this, the timing of the commercial could not have been better. With Congressional hearings and heightened scrutiny of Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg on display, an advertisement such as this reminds users of the innocence and joy that Facebook brings. It dulls any idea of corruption and conceals the increasing social and political power of media platforms. 

It may be odd to see a social media platform that hosts online advertising advertise itself in traditional media, however, the effects on usage rates as well as the brand perception were significant, and likely justify the high commercial price-tag.

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