Commercials for the first Super Bowl in 1966 cost just $37,500 to air, but companies didn't start understanding the value of commercials for the big game until 1973.

That year, New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath and Charlie's Angels star Farrah Fawcett starred in the first big Super Bowl commercial for Noxzema shaving cream. It cost $42,000 to produce and $103,500 to air.

Just six years later in 1979, when 'Mean' Joe Greene's famous Coca-Cola commercial aired, a 30-second spot cost $222,000 for Super Bowl XIV.

Apple's '1984' ad, based on George Orwell's novel of the same name, cost around $370,000 to produce and $525,000 to make it on-air – almost double the price from five years earlier.

Commercials in the 1990s – from Cindy Crawford’s Pepsi ad to Bud Light's 'Whassup?!' – rose to more than $1 million a spot and hit $2 million by 1999.

Ten years after Pepsi's first Cindy Crawford commercial cost $850,000 to air, the second one in 2002 cost up to $2.2 million.

“Chrysler’s ‘Imported from Detroit’ ad from 2011 featured rapper Eminem is one of the costliest Super bowl commercials ever. It cost Chrysler a record-setting $12.4 million to make and $3.5 million to air.

The most expensive Super Bowl ad currently belongs to MGM, who spent a reported $5.69 million on its trailer for the James Bond movie, 'No Time to Die' in 2020.

For Super Bowl 55, commercials cost between $5.5-$5.6 million to air. But some of your favorite brands won't be releasing viral ads this year. Budweiser, Coca-Cola and others decided to use the air time to spotlight the effects of COVID-19 pandemic and the importance of vaccinations.

Super Bowl commercials through the years

The price of Super Bowl commercial prices over the years

It’s hard to imagine a Super Bowl without the iconic commercials that come with it. Some of those ads in became almost as memorable as the game itself.

But that wasn’t always the case.

The average 30-second commercial cost between $37,500-$42,500 to run in 1966 during Super Bowl I, according to Superbowl-ads.com. And while the popularity of football’s biggest game rose, so too did the price of air time and the ambition of advertisers.

Super Bowl VIII featured arguably the first “big” commercial in 1973. New York Jets quarterback Joe Namath and Charlie’s Angels star Farrah Fawcett starred in a shaving cream ad for Noxzema. It cost $42,000 to produce and $103,500 to air – more than double the price from just seven years earlier.

The price continued to double again every five-to-six years as viewership increased. When “Mean” Joe Greene's famous Coca-Cola commercial aired in 1979, the average 30-second spot cost $222,000 for Super Bowl XIV and its audience of 76.24 million people. Apple’s “1984” ad, based on George Orwell’s novel of the same name, cost around $370,000 to produce and $525,000 to make it on-air for 85.53 million Super Bowl views.

Brands ramped up viral marketing campaigns for the Super Bowl in the 1990s, where the price for a spot in the big game finally eclipsed $1 million. Famous ads like Cindy Crawford’s “This is Pepsi,” McDonald’s “Showdown” with Michael Jordan and Larry Bird and Bud Light’s hilarious “Whassup?!” will be remembered forever for their creativity and hilarity.

From a price perspective, though, Crawford’s commercial offers the most striking representation of how much the cost per spot has increased over the years. When her first Pepsi ad ran in 1992, it cost $850,000 for an ad in the Super Bowl. By the second one in 2002, that number rose to $2.2 million. And when the third iteration ran in 2018, companies paid $5.2 million for a 30-second commercial. Viewership, for reference, blossomed as well – from almost 91 million in 1992 to 98.47 in 2018.

The most expensive Super Bowl ad currently belong’s to MGM, who spent a reported $5.69 million on its trailer for the James Bond movie, “No Time to Die” in 2020, according to Variety.

While the price for a commercial in Super Bowl 55 has hovered between $5.5-$5.6 million, a few high-profile brands decided not to air an ad this year. Budweiser, Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Hyundai are among companies that will use their ad budget for more humanitarian causes – including COVID-19 vaccine awareness.