Celebrities are paid a shocking amount for 30-second Super Bowl ads
Feb 10, 2024, 2:33 PM | Updated: 2:38 pm
(CNN) — After Ben Affleck appeared as a Dunkin’ drive-thru worker in a Super Bowl commercial last year, the breakfast chain’s sales exploded.
“They sold more donuts the next day than any other day in their history,” an individual close to the Dunkin’ Super Bowl campaign told CNN. “That says a lot.”
Getting into business with the Boston-bred Affleck — an A-list fan of his hometown donut shop who is the quintessential spokesperson for the brand — catapulted Dunkin’ into the pop-culture zeitgeist.
“We ran it once and got 7 billion media impressions, and it kind of kickstarted the year,” Scott Murphy, the president of Dunkin’, recently told Entrepreneur about Affleck’s 2023 Super Bowl ad, which was the company’s first commercial to ever run during the Big Game. “The brand is just in the conversation,” the executive added. “It just really feels in the fabric of things now.”
The success of Affleck’s Dunkin’ partnership is undeniable. But it didn’t come cheap.
Affleck was paid close to $10 million dollars for last year’s Dunkin’ Super Bowl commercial, three sources with knowledge of the partnership told CNN.
But it wasn’t a typical talent deal. Aside from his on-camera participation, Affleck helped conceive the creative concept of the ad, and his production company that he shares with Matt Damon, Artists Equity, produced and directed the spot. Part of the deal to get Affleck on board was Dunkin’ making a sizable donation to his nonprofit, the Eastern Congo Initiative, ET reported last year and a source confirms to CNN.
Representatives for Affleck and Dunkin’ did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment. A spokesperson for Artists Equity declined comment.
Huge paydays for a couple days of work
Receiving an eight-figure paycheck for a few days of work is rare, even in Hollywood, but it’s not unheard of.
Larry David received $10 million to appear in a 2022 Super Bowl ad for FTX, a source told CNN, prior to the cryptocurrency company’s collapse and its founder Sam Bankman-Fried’s fraud conviction.
David did not respond to CNN’s request for comment, but the “Curb Your Enthusiasm” star previously addressed his participation in the commercial, saying, “Part of my salary was in crypto—so I lost a lot of money.” (David has never commented on the financial terms of the deal, but in a 2023 biography of the disgraced Bankman-Fried, author Michael Lewis wrote that David was paid $10 million for the Super Bowl spot.)
A-list stars like Affleck and David rarely hawk products and appear in US endorsement deals, which is part of the driving force for their eye-popping salaries.
This year, Super Bowl commercials are bursting with Hollywood stars: From Jennifer Aniston who reunited with “Friends” co-star David Schwimmer for Uber Eats to Chris Pratt with Pringles to Jason Momoa who is promoting T-Mobile’s high-speed Wi-Fi and even Martin Scorsese who directed and appears in a Squarespace ad, advertisers are shelling out the big bucks for this year’s game.
The $10 million deals David and Affleck fetched are on the extreme high-end for a Super Bowl paycheck, but numerous brand management executives who spoke with CNN say that it’s rare for a household name to appear during the Super Bowl for less than $1 million.
“It can be as little as $25,000 for someone to do a cameo that’s not a megastar, but as high as $10 million. It depends on the brand and it depends on the stature of the celebrity,” says Tim Curtis, a partner in the brand partnerships division at the Hollywood talent agency, WME. “The majority of bigger stars are usually in that $1 to $3 million range for Super Bowl, but there are exceptions that go out north of that. It’s rare for someone that you think of as a true movie star to be paid less than a million.”
Most Super Bowl shoots are usually one to two days, the agent added.
At least two major Hollywood stars received more than $5 million for their participation in ads this year in which they are seen on-camera for less than 20 seconds, sources tell CNN.
“To bring content to the biggest stage and biggest platform out there, you need to have breakthrough power of what a celebrity can bring,” T-Mobile chief creative officer, Peter DeLuca, tells CNN. “When you invest in a celebrity, you are investing in who they are and the work that they’ve done. They bring a lot of brand credibility – and when I say ‘brand,’ I’m referring to their brand.”
Even more celebrities this year
This year, T-Mobile has struck deals with more celebrities than ever for their Super Bowl campaigns. The company has a long history of utilizing celebrities to create viral commercial moments. Last year, “Scrubs” alums Zach Braff and Donald Faison teamed up with John Travolta for a musical number, and this year, the duo is back, but this time with “Aquaman” star, Jason Momoa, and Jennifer Beals for a “Flashdance” musical ad.
Momoa is represented by the agency WME, which has more than 30 clients in Super Bowl ads this year, including Tina Fey (Booking.com), John Cena (FanDuel) and halftime performer Usher (who is in two ads: Uber Eats and BMW), showcasing the immense value of recognizable faces to brands.
But for celebrities, it’s not always an easy sell. Even with a massive paycheck for a few hours of work, top-tier talent is selective with the jobs they take.
“Honestly, we get more offers and more passes than we do acceptances. Even though we’ve got over 30 celebrities in the Super Bowl this year, we had over 70 offers. A lot of times people say no because it’s not the right organic fit,” WME agent, Curtis, says. “Most talent don’t want to just do a commercial for the sake of doing a commercial. They want something that’s going to be true to their brand and something they can be proud of out there. There are a lot of people watching, so it’s important that it really feels like it’s the right fit.”
Why the ads are worth the cost
Last year’s Super Bowl drew over 115 million viewers. That huge viewership is what makes it worthwhile for brands to invest tens of millions of dollars into a mere few seconds on TV – and in a fragmented media landscape where most viewers watching streaming programming from their phone, live airtime has become even more valuable.
“It’s the one day of the year that you actually have consumers all sitting in front of the TV, watching together,” Curtis says. “You’ve got a guaranteed focused audience, and you have a lot of people sitting there watching the Super Bowl to watch the commercials – not necessarily watching the game.”
For the 2024 Super Bowl, commercials sold for a higher rate than last year’s game with a range of $6.5 to $7 million per 30-second spot, according to two individuals familiar with this year’s advertising sales. Both sources say that CBS nearly sold out all ad space by last November, months before the big game.
All in, between ad space and talent fees — not to mention hefty production costs, elaborate sets, hundreds of crew members, music licensing, marketing and social media spends — sources tell CNN that brands can spend between $15 million and $50 million for a single Super Bowl commercial with $10 to $15 million spent on talent alone. This year, a new trend is emerging: hiring multiple stars for one advertisement — meaning multiple contracts.
Aside from T-Mobile, which has two star-studded commercials this year, Uber Eats unveiled a celebrity-filled campaign that includes Aniston, Schwimmer, Jelly Roll, plus Victoria and David Beckham.
“Between production costs and the ad space, you are already spending many tens of millions of dollars,” an individual familiar with Super Bowl advertisements tells CNN. “Not to sound cavalier, but it’s a little bit of a drop in the bucket to tack on the talent fees.”