A record number 111 million people watched the Pittsburgh Steelers face off against the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XLV in 2011. However, more than half of them were probably more concerned with what was happening during the commercial breaks than the action on the field. According to survey conducted by advertising firm Hanon McKendry, 54 percent of those expecting to watch the big game were tuning in for the ads.
The Super Bowl, which caps off the National Football League's season, is consistently one of the most watched television events of the year. To capitalize on that captive audience, companies pull out all the stops for their Super Bowl ads. From the iconic 1984 Apple ad to more recent entries such as the eTrade baby, the Super Bowl ads have been the launching point for innovative campaigns and products.
Winning ads may be quirky, inspirational or outrageous, but all require a team of professionals to take the commercial from a rough concept to polished final piece. If you are intrigued at the prospect of being part of this process, consider the following career choices.
1. Advertising manager
As the head of a promotional team, the advertising manager may do everything from developing the initial concept to overseeing production to approving the final commercial. Some managers may specialize as an account executive, creative director or media director and be responsible for a specific portion of the concept creation process.
Advertising managers can come from a wide range of backgrounds, but employers may prefer job candidates with a bachelor's degree in advertising or journalism. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports advertising and promotions managers earned mean annual wages of $98,720 in 2010.
Would the Old Spice commercial have been nearly as successful without the distinctive voice and chiseled abs of Isaiah Mustafa? Who knows. What we do know is that without the right actor or actress, a potentially great commercial could fall flat.
Good performers are usually gifted with natural talent. However, formal education never hurts. Bachelor's degrees in television broadcasting, film, theater or drama can provide the right training ground for future Super Bowl stars. Salaries for actors vary dramatically, but the BLS indicates mean hourly wages for actors were $28.44 in 2010.
Of course, half the Old Spice Man's appeal is that he is "the man your man could smell like." The dialogue in a commercial can be deceptively simple, but make no mistake: talented writers are needed to make the most of every word. Copywriters generally have 30-60 seconds to create a memorable message -- Where's the Beef? -- or telling a compelling story such Chrysler's Imported from Detroit ad from last year.
Sales writers may have a bachelor's degree in advertising, communications or English. The BLS tracks average incomes for copywriters under the more general category of writers and authors. In 2010, these professionals had mean annual wages of $65,960.
4. Film and video editor
Once a commercial has been shot, it is up to a skilled editor to transform the rough footage into the finished piece. Editing is often done on a computer, so today's editors need to be tech-savvy in addition to having an artistic eye.
There are several ways to enter the field as a film and video editor. Some community colleges and technical schools may offer vocational training programs. Others in the field may have degrees in digital video editing, video production or related subjects. According to the BLS, mean annual wages for film and video editors was $61,890 in 2010.
5. Computer software engineer
Twenty years ago, Super Bowl ads were nothing more than 30 seconds of television time. Then in 1999, lingerie retailer Victoria's Secret placed a Super Bowl ad that hyped an online fashion show. In the years since, advertising teams have used Super Bowl commercials to launch multi-media campaigns that combine interactive websites, mobile applications and social media sites. Computer software engineers are the brains that take the Super Bowl ad off the TV screen and into the virtual world.
Computer software engineers need specialized skills, and employers may prefer job candidates with a four-year degree. Bachelor's degrees in computer engineering and computer science are common for those working in this field. Mean annual salaries for computer software engineers working in applications were $90,410 in 2010 according to BLS data.
If you want to create advertisements that reach millions, there's no greater venue than the Super Bowl. Find the advertising career that matches your skills and interests, and take your career to prime time.