After Ben Affleck appeared as a Dunkin’s 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 Dunkin’ Super Bowl campaign told CNN. “That says a lot.”
Going into business with the Boston-bred Affleck — an A-list fan of his hometown donut shop who is the brand’s chief spokesperson — catapulted Dunkin’ to the top of pop culture.
“We ran it once and got 7 billion media impressions, and it kind of kicked off the year,” Scott Murphy, president of Dunkin’, recently told Entrepreneur about Affleck’s 2023 Super Bowl ad, which was the first commercial of company that ever appeared during the Great Game. “The brand is just in the conversation,” the executive added. “It just really feels in the fabric of things right now.”
The success of Affleck’s Dunkin’ partnership is undeniable. But it has not been free.
Affleck was paid roughly $10 million for last year’s Dunkin’ Super Bowl ad, three sources with knowledge of the partnership told CNN.
But it wasn’t a typical talent deal. In addition to his on-camera participation, Affleck helped conceive the commercial’s creative concept, and his production company he shares with Matt Damon, Artists Equity, produced and directed the spot. Part of the deal to get Affleck on board was for Dunkin’ to make a sizeable donation to his nonprofit, the Eastern Congo Initiative, ET reported last year and a source confirmed to CNN.
Representatives for Affleck and Dunkin’ did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment. A spokesman for Artists Equity declined to comment.
Getting an eight-figure salary for a few days’ work is rare, even in Hollywood, but it’s not unheard of.
Larry David received $10 million to appear in a 2022 Super Bowl commercial for FTX, a source told CNN, before the cryptocurrency company’s collapse and its founder Sam Bankman-Fried’s conviction for fraud.
David did not respond to CNN’s request for comment, but the “Curb Your Enthusiasm” star previously addressed his involvement in the ad, 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 use products and appear in endorsement deals in the US, which is part of the driving force behind their eye-popping salaries.
This year, Super Bowl ads are bursting with Hollywood stars: From Jennifer Aniston reuniting with her Friends co-star David Schwimmer for Uber Eats to Chris Pratt with Pringles to Jason Momoa promoting Wi-Fi with T-Mobile’s high speed and even Martin Scorsese who directed and appears in a Squarespace commercial, advertisers are paying big bucks for this year’s game.
The $10 million deals that David and Affleck reached are on the extreme side for a Super Bowl salary, but multiple brand management executives who spoke to CNN say it’s rare for a household name to appear during the Super Bowl for less than 1 million dollars.
“It can be as low as $25,000 for someone to do a non-megastar movie, 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 Hollywood talent agency WME. “Most of the bigger stars are usually in that $1 to $3 million range for the Super Bowl, but there are exceptions that come in north of that. It’s rare that someone you think of as a real movie star gets 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 commercials this year in which they appear on camera for less than 20 seconds, sources tell CNN.
“To bring content to the biggest stage and the biggest platform out there, you have to have the power of discovering what a celebrity can bring,” T-Mobile chief creative officer Peter DeLuca told CNN. “When you invest in a celebrity, you’re investing in who they are and the work they’ve done. They bring a lot of brand credibility – and when I say ‘brand’, I mean their brand.”
This year, T-Mobile has struck deals with more celebrities than ever for their Super Bowl campaigns. The company has a long history of using 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”. ” music commercial.
Momoa is repped by agency WME, which has more than 30 clients on Super Bowl ads this year, including Tina Fey (Booking.com), John Cena (FanDuel) and halftime performer Usher (who is in two advertising: Uber Eats and BMW. ), showing the tremendous value of familiar 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 acceptances. Although we have over 30 celebrities at 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,” says WME agent Curtis. “Most talent don’t want to do a commercial just for the sake of doing a commercial. They want something that will be true to their brand and something they can be proud of out there. There’s a lot of people watching, so it’s important that it really feels like it’s the right fit.”
Last year’s Super Bowl drew over 115 million viewers. This massive viewership is what makes it worthwhile for brands to invest tens of millions of dollars in just a few seconds on TV – and in a fragmented media landscape where most viewers watch broadcast programming from their phone, live streaming time has become even more valuable.
“It’s the one day of the year that you actually have consumers sitting in front of the TV, watching together,” says Curtis. “You have 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, ads were sold at a higher rate than last year’s game with a range of $6.5 million to $7 million per 30-second spot, according to two individuals familiar with this year’s ad sales. Both sources say CBS nearly sold all of its ad space by last November, months before the big game.
Everything between ad space and talent fees — not to mention huge production costs, elaborate sets, hundreds of crew members, music licensing, marketing and social media spend — sources tell CNN that brands can spend between $15 and $50 million for a single Super Bowl Ad with $10 to $15 million spent on talent alone. This year, a new trend is emerging: hiring multiple stars for one commercial—which means multiple contracts.
In addition to T-Mobile, which has two star-studded ads this year, Uber Eats unveiled a celebrity-studded campaign featuring Aniston, Schwimmer, Jelly Roll, plus Victoria and David Beckham.
“Between production costs and ad space, you’re already spending many tens of millions of dollars,” an individual familiar with Super Bowl advertising tells CNN. “Not to sound cavalier, but it’s a bit of a drop in the bucket to cover talent fees.”