If you bought one of every item advertised during this year's game that we could ascribe a dollar value to, you'd pay $163,827.25, which is $6,329.65 more than if you bought similar items from companies that don't advertise during the Super Bowl. Face it, dude; the money for the obscenely high salaries earned by the players comes right out of your pocket.
Granted, some of the difference in price between goods advertised during the Super Bowl and those that aren't could represent a difference in quality. However, I'm convinced that much of what we perceive as better quality is due to the brainwashing effect of incessant advertising.
Given that, here's how the frugal shopper can save some bucks when tempted by the Super Bowl ads to buy, buy, buy.
The products being advertised during the big game can be sorted into a few neat categories:
Snack foods and drink
Don't expect ads for nutritious products during the game; profit comes from making tongue-friendly foods from dirt-cheap ingredients.
- You could buy the advertised Coca-Cola, a two-liter bottle for $1.79. On the other hand, Giant Eagle, my local grocer, sells its house brand in the same size for $0.75.
- Sponsor Diamond Foods' Pop-Secret Light Butter microwave popcorn sells in bulk from Amazon for $1.10 a bag. Non-sponsor Orville Redenbacher's Gourmet Microwave Popcorn in bulk is $0.75.
- Dorito's Nacho Cheese chips in a 12-ounce bag is $3.99 at my grocers. The similar Tangy Cheesey Nachos, 11.5 oz., is $3.49.
- Snicker's bars, the 2.07 ounce size in a 48-count box, is $0.33 an ounce from Amazon. Surprisingly, I couldn't find better bargains on similar items online; Chocolate caramel crispy clusters from bulkfoods.com in a 20 lb. batch were $0.34 an ounce.
- I couldn't find an alternative to Dr. Pepper Cherry ($1.69 for 2 liters) either, but I suppose you could add some cherry syrup to the above generic cola for under a dollar.
- Anheuser-Busch/InBev will push several of its brands. I priced a six-pack of Bud Light in cans at my local grocery, $5.49. Six Milwaukee's Best Light, 16 ouncers, was only $4.49.
- A 12-pack of Coors will set me back $9.49 at my favorite local carryout. I could instead pick up a dozen of a venerable Midwestern favorite, Black Label, for $5.69.
- Denny's will probably pitch its Build Your Own Grand Slam breakfast during the game; at the Marion, Ohio outlet this is $5.99. If you chose bacon, eggs, toast and hash browns, you could get the same breakfast at Waffle House for $5.35.
- Papa John's Pizza is offering a large pie, your choice of toppings, for $10. Making a pizza is stupid easy, people; the ingredients to make one at home will allow you to turn out your own for around $3-$4.
- Taco Bell is promoting its Five Buck Box, a gordita, burrito, taco, cinnamon twists and a drink for $5. For sheer quantity for the money, I don't find any alternatives that offer a better deal than that, despite the money it spent on this ad.
- Audi will pitch the 2010 A6 Sedan, with a base sticker price of $45.200. The Volvo S80 is a comparable ride that, at $39.200, doesn't include the hidden costs of a Super Bowl ad.
- Chrysler is spending some of that government green on an ad for its Challenger R/T V8 MT pony car, which lists for $22,375. The competitor from Ford, the Mustang GT Premium V8 MT, sells for less; $20,995. And Ford is likely to still be in business in a few years.
- Honda will pimp its Accord Crosstour, a fine ride at $29,670. The frugal fan might consider the non-sponsor Nissan's Murano as an alternative, at $28,050.
- Hyundai will probably feature the Sonata Ltd. V6, a family sedan listing for $18,700. Despite dropping a lot of dough on the ad, though, this company still manages to undersell the competition, including the Chevrolet Malibu LTZ V6, at $21,825.
- Kia will play, promoting the Sportage with a starting price of $16,995. Those looking to save a few bucks might consider the boxy Scion xB instead, for $15,750.
- Volkswagen will promote several of its line in a Super Bowl campaign, including the CC 4-cylinder. This car retails for $27,760, not a bad price compared to the Acura TSX, which sells for $29,310.
- Tire maker Bridgestone is also among the advertisers this year. I looked at the 185/70R14 Blizzak WD-60, which sells for $112.99 on Amazon. A similar bad-weather tire from Michelin sells for exactly the same price. Michelin must have blown its ad budget on the Tour De France instead.
- Looking to sell a car? Advertiser Cars.com will run a basic ad with one photo on its site for 21 days for $15. Alternatives? Park it at a busy intersection with a sign in the window for free -- if you don't get towed. A safer option, also free, is Craigslist.org.
- Boost Mobile, Super Bowl advertiser, will set you up with a Blackberry Curve with unlimited talk, browsing and texting, for $60 a month. I pay Verizon $83.97 for the same phone and pay 20 cents per text message, so this seems like an OK deal. Coverage, however, is an open question.
- Godaddy.com, the company know for buxom Super Bowl ads, will register a dot.com domain for you for $10.69 a year. Network Solutions will do it for $9.99. Yippee; we save 70 cents.
- kgb is marketing a service that you probably didn't know you needed; for $0.99 you can text it a question on just about anything and receive a reply. Of course, you can do the same thing for free with Google's text query 466453 service.
- Motorola has bought time during the broadcast, which will probably be used to promote its smart phone, the Droid. You can buy one from Best Buy for $599.99. When Motorola agreed to use Google's Android operating system, it probably didn't expect that Google would later release a phone of its own to complete with the Droid. The Google Nexus sells for $529. Ouch!
- Vizio continues its campaign to blanket the nation with its televisions. Its 55-incher VF550M retails for $1,298 on Amazon. You could save $100 with the Toshiba REGZA Cinema Series 52XV648U, at $1199.99.
- Dockers will be pushing its new line of soft khakis. I'm expecting to see a similar price difference between these and house brands as we see from other pants sold by JCPenny. Pleated no-iron Dockers sell for $65, while similar house brand St. Johns Bay pants go for $36.
- Dove is jumping into the man-scent market with Dove Men+Care; the Clean Comfort Body and Face Wash sells for $3.99. A house brand body wash for men, sports scent, cost $3.19.
- Advertiser etrade.com will place a stock market trade for you for $9.99; the subsequent decline in value is not its fault. Rival Scottrade.com advertises $7 trades.
- HomeAway.com is a site that offers private home rentals as an alternative to the hotel route. For example, I found a three-bedroom house on a lake near Gaylord, Mich. I could rent for $120 a night. Three rooms at the local Hampton Inn would run $267.75 at rack rate, without a kitchen. However, I still have reservations about the unknown quality of Homeaway's offerings.
- Teleflora is promoting a deal for Valentine's Day, a dozen roses in a nice vase delivered anywhere for $79.95. However, my favorite local florist offers the same deal for ten bucks less.
- Universal Pictures will be promoting its upcoming films such as The Wolfman and Robin Hood. Same with Viacom and Iron Man 2. These flicks will probably cost $9-$10 to see, more if in 3D. You can save a lot of money by playing the waiting game; the same films will reach the dollar flicks by the time school lets out.
Some of the ads are for products too new and/or unusual to price, such as Flo TV, which delivers TV to your smart phone or to its $250 dedicated hand held video unit. Electronic Arts will promote its new Dante's Inferno game ($59.95 for xBox 360); I suppose you could compare that to the price of a Kindle version of Dante's work: $2.39. Intel has a new processor to promote. Monster.com and Careerbuilder.com want to help you find a job, and NBC Universal is inviting you to visit its new Harry Potter theme park.
And some advertisers aren't selling at all. TRUTV just wants to build an audience for its TV series "NFL:Full Contact," while Focus On The Family wants you to pay attention to football star Tim Tebow's views on abortion.
Finally, the U.S. Census Bureau is blowing a wad of your money to beg you to take part in the national head count.
And that's how you end up paying for the Super Bowl. I hope it's worth the money this time.
The 2010 Super Bowl advertisers:
- Audi of America
- Boost Mobile
- Chrysler's Dodge ponycar
- Diamond Foods' Pop-Secret
- Dr. Pepper Snapple Group
- Electronic Arts
- Flo TV
- HomeAway (online vacation rentals)
- Hyundai Sonata
- NBC Universal's Harry Potter theme park
- Papa John's
- Taco Bell
- U.S. Census Bureau
- Universal Pictures
- Viacom's Paramount Pictures
- Walt Disney Pictures
- Volkswagen of America
- Focus on the Family
Food prices from Giant Eagle, Columbus, Ohio. Thanks to Adage.com and i4u.com.