Depending on who you are, your opinion of commercials could either be love or hate. A lot of people do not appreciate the interruptive nature of commercials, while some enjoy them for the little dose of creativity they bring to their viewing experience. Whatever your opinion is about commercials, one thing is constant, they can be really expensive things to make, and some of the most expensive TV commercials ever made have proven just how costly those 1-2 minutes of ad can cost.
There are a lot of things that contribute to the cost of a commercial, the cast, which can get pretty high when a major celebrity is involved and the platform where it will air, with the Super Bowl being the costliest ad space a commercial can run. Here is a list of the ten most expensive TV commercials ever made below in the world. Check it out.
Most Expensive TV Commercials Ever Made
1. Chanel No. 5 – $33 million
A lot of the most expensive TV commercials you will find in this list aired during the Super Bowl, which accounts for their pricy figure but the number one most expensive commercial did not air in the Super Bowl, rather in theaters, like a short film before the main film. Titled The Film, the Chanel No. 5 ad cost $33 million to make, a budget that was twice the cost of several movies that have won the Oscar.
The 2004 ad featured Nicole Kidman, one of Hollywood’s most popular faces and the director, Baz Luhrmann. With the ad coming into existence at the height of their respective careers, their respective salaries accounted for a significant fraction of the ad cost. The perfume ad lasted three minutes and aside from the high cost of its cast, also featured high-end production values like costumes designed by Karl Lagerfield.
As for the plot of the ad, it was a simple regular man (Rodrigo Santoro) falls in love with a super actress plot. And if you are wondering if the ad was effective, it was. Chanel No. 5 posted record-breaking sales at the end of the year, justifying the cost of the ad.
2. Guinness Tipping Point Ad – $16 million
The second most expensive TV commercial in the world is the brand known for several creative ads, the beer company, Guinness. The ad, Tipping Point was made in 2007 in celebration of the brand’s 80th anniversary and it was a delightful work of art. Rather than making the ad in a studio lot, the commercial was filmed on location at Iruya, a small Argentinean village.
Unlike the Chanel No. 5 ad, this ad did not feature any prominent names but a production expense that included large set pieces like flaming cars, refrigerators and a large statue of a pint of Guinness. The multiple takes it would have taken to capture the ad, along with the cost of procuring the set pieces made this ad into a $16 million commercial to become the second most expensive TV commercial in the world.
3. President George W. Bush’s Political Ad – $14.2 million
Political campaigns are known to cost quite a lot, with campaigns estimated to gulp as much as $2 billion during an election cycle. A sizeable fraction of that huge campaign expense goes towards TV commercials and in 2004, $14.2 million of it went to an ad for President George W. Bush.
This ad, like the Guinness ad, did not derive its huge cost from its cast but from the number of places it ran on. The ad aired in almost every state in the US during the 2004 presidential campaign. And it had a simple plot of a girl, Ashley Faulkner who had lost her mother in the 9/11 attack, telling the American people that President Bush needs more time to ensure the country’s protection.
4. Aviva Insurance – $13.4 million
This 2008 commercial could best be described as an infomercial, telling the world about the company’s name change from Norwich Union to Aviva Insurance. The commercial featured celebrities who had changed their names at a point in their career as part of its message. Some of the featured celebrities include Bruce Willis, Elle McPherson, Ringo Starr, and Alice Cooper.
The cast of the ad accounts for its status as the fourth most expensive TV commercial. As for the quality of the ad, it was a simple ad of the celebrities speaking in front of a camera, not enough to justify its $13.4 million outlay but that cast though…
5. Chrysler 200 Ad – $12 million
Some TV commercials can be described as unnecessary, and the fifth most expensive of them can be described as that. Chrysler, at the time of making the ad, was going through a difficult financial period, having been recently bailed out by the government, but it still felt the need to spend $12 million on a commercial for its luxury car, Chrysler 200.
So, where did the money go? A huge part of it went to paying Eminem who starred as the face of the ad, and the rest went into making the montage for the ad’s exploration of Detroit, the focus of the ad. Intertwining the relationship of Eminem and Chrysler with Detroit, the ad crafted a two-minutes story that did not go down well with critics. At $12 million though, it left many people smiling to the bank.
6. Carlton Draught – $9 million
When it comes to commercials, beer companies seem to have the best minds in the business crafting their adverts and Carlton Draught has been one of the prominent names in this field. Having made a big splash in 2005 with its Big Beer Ad, it returned in 2008 with this mega ad made in the sky.
The ad had hundreds of skydivers contracted by the brand forming different shapes and words in the sky after jumping out a Carlton Draught shaped plane before they landed in a stadium filled with fans during halftime. Aside from the skydivers, the ad also had set pieces like destroyed vehicles and rooftops. It was a great, fun and efficient ad because Carlton Draught sold $36 million worth of beers during this period.
7. Pepsi Britney Spears Ad – $8.1 million
At any point in time, there is a new Pepsi ad running on TV, proving that the brand spends a hefty amount on advertisement every year, but that expenditure was extra significant in 2002 when it spent $8.1 million on a commercial. The seventh most expensive TV commercial ever made lasted just 90 seconds and it aired during the Super Bowl, adding to his high cost.
In addition to its airtime, it also featured Britney Spears in an ad that was a music video in celebration of the Pepsi brand. We cannot say how much the commercial influenced the sale of Pepsi drinks but it was a uber-popular ad that aired everywhere, all over the world.
8. Kia ‘The Truth’ – $8 million
The Truth is another Super Bowl ad and it aired in 2014. The TV commercial, which was an ad for the car brand, featured Laurence Fishburne, who reprised his iconic role as Morpheus from The Matrix. However, rather than a trip down memory lane with Morpheus asking Neo to choose a pill, in this commercial, he is a salesman, asking a couple to buy a luxurious Kia sedan.
In doing this, he serenades them with an opera, one that makes the world explode. It is a fun ad that plays on the popularity of the Matrix films. In order to bring it to life, it cost Kia $8 million, which went to special effects, salary for Laurence Fishburne, and the rights to his Matrix character along with other production costs.
9. Honda “The Cog” – $6.5 million
When your ad took 606 takes to bring to life, you are bound to spend a significant sum and that is what this Honda Accord commercial took. The car brand made this two-minute commercial for the UK but it proved too fascinating that it aired in other markets all over the world.
The commercial, which went on air for the first time on the 6th of April 2003 had just one spoken line ‘Isn’t it nice when things just work?’ and the rest was a long set piece of different parts of the Honda vehicle going through the domino effect. Considering the number of body parts involved, it is no wonder that this commercial took 606 takes to shoot.
10. Ferrari/Shell Circuit TV ad – $4.5 million
Wrapping up the top ten most expensive TV commercials in the world is the Ferrari/Shell Circuit TV ad which went on air for the first time in 2007. Ferrari, being a luxury brand, is not one many would expect to make commercials, but a partnership with the petroleum company, Shell, gave this commercial a reason to come to life.
The ad featured a Ferrari driving around the world in trademark Ferrari speed, only stopping for fuel in Shell gas stations. It was a simple ad that was meant to convey on message, Ferrari cars are great and the only gas station you should use are Shell stations.
Is it the most fun ad? Probably not, is it the most popular? Definitely not, but it was still enough to cost $4.5 million in production, making it the tenth most expensive TV commercial in the world.