Months before the Super Bowl unfolds on Feb. 5, ad space for this year's telecast was all sold out. According to The Wall Street Journal, the last 30-second slot was purchased by Thanksgiving, despite a record $3.5 million average price tag. And that's just the fee for air time — companies will pay untold millions more to produce their competitively "memorable" commercials. Here, a numerical look at how the skyrocketing costs break down — and why these pricey spots may not be such a bad deal after all:
Cost of a typical 30-second ad during this year's Feb. 5 Super Bowl telecast, according to The Wall Street Journal
Cost of a 30-second spot last year
Percentage rise in Super Bowl ad prices since 2001, "demonstrating the impact of the Super Bowl — the top trophy sports event programming — on the advertising industry," says Erin Carlson at The Hollywood Reporter
Top price paid this year for a 30-second Super Bowl spot in a prime-time slot
Number of 30-second ad spots that have been sold
Times that Volkswagen's 2011 Darth Vader commercial has been viewed on YouTube, on top of the millions of impressions it made during last year's Super Bowl telecast, says Dorothy Pomerantz at Forbes. "Popular ads have long lives as viral phenomenons."
Estimated value of the publicity VW's Darth Vader spot received after its Super Bowl debut. "When you put it in that light," says Jordan Weissmann at The Atlantic, "$3.5 million doesn't seem like such a bad deal."
How much more memorable Super Bowl ads are, expressed in percentage, compared to the average TV commercial, according to Nielsen
Total number of viewers for last year's Super Bowl
Percentage of U.S. households who tuned in to last year's game
Amount Chrysler reportedly spent on a two-minute ad last year, the most expensive in history