As the Californian dust settles following Denver Broncos’ 24-10 victory in Super Bowl 50, the debate over the value the event represents for brands is far from over. Many commentators argue that the $5m price tag for a 30 second spot is ridiculously inflated, while others maintain it makes smart business sense (and, let’s face it, didn’t deter the likes of Amazon, Toyota and Budweiser from reaching for their wallets).

For many global brands, a spot in the Super Bowl is the holy grail of advertising; it offers the backdrop of a unique, communal event with levels of engagement rarely found elsewhere. But what if there was somewhere else advertisers could achieve similar coverage, impact and engagement at just a fifth of the cost?


Early indications suggest that this year’s Super Bowl was watched by around 112 million viewers with only about a ¼ of those people being outside the USA and its true, few other media channels can offer this level of exposure to US consumers. All BUT ONE! Inflight media. The inflight magazines on board American Airlines and United flights reach a total of 332m passengers every year – that’s nearly three times the amount that watched the Super Bowl on Sunday and around 10m more than the population of the USA itself. Given that 98% of US passengers pick up the inflight magazine at least once, this is a remarkable number of eyeballs for brands to reach.


While the Super Bowl’s TV ads have themselves become an event, the inflight magazine is an equally cherished part of the air travel experience. 1 in 3 passengers look forward to the magazine as a part of their flight experience and 95% say they seek out tourism features in the magazine. The heightened travel mindset means readers are alert and open to new ideas, which in turn helps stimulate passenger engagement, with 52% recalling adverts they saw in the magazine.


In return for their significant investment, Super Bowl advertisers generally get a minute or less to talk to their audience, meaning they have to invest in additional tactics to prolong the conversation. While all advertising campaigns should be backed with a multi-channel plan, the ability of inflight magazines to reach passengers as they sit back, relax and enjoy a rare moment of uninterrupted peace means they offer a significantly deeper level of engagement: For example, if a brand were to appear every month in American Way and Hemispheres magazines for a year, they would get the equivalent of 8 hours continuous exposure, based on an average read-time of 18 and 22 minutes respectively. Combine this with research that shows print advertising has a higher ROI than any other medium and throw in inflight magazines’ aspirational, yet targeted editorial environment and there’s a compelling case for the impact that can be achieved through inflight advertising. 


Airline audiences are valuable audiences. The inflight environment is one of the few places where influential business people can be efficiently targeted. 56% are senior managers, with nearly 1 in 5 senior level C-suite travellers.


The cost to advertise on the outside back cover of American Way and Hemispheres magazines every month for a year is less than 20% of the cost of 1 minute’s air time during the Super Bowl, but reaches 3 times the audience continuously through the year. With passenger numbers set to double over the next 20 years, inflight magazines will only increase their consumer reach, and continue to be consumed in a uniquely undisturbed environment.

Let us leave you with a challenge and a question…. And email to check your answer. What is the biggest sporting event in TV history? And let us give you a hint…it got around 9 times more viewers that this Super Bowl!

Source: The Global Passenger Survey