Millennials' billion dollars worth of buying power is evidenced in the shamelessly targeted advertisements aired during the Super Bowl.

This coming Sunday at 6pm Eastern Time, jersey-clad, beer-chugging Americans from all walks of life will clamor around buffet tables and flat screen TVs (or computers and smartphones) to watch the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers duke it out in Super Bowl 50. An estimated 189 million Americans will consume upwards of 3,000 calories in one sitting in dutiful celebration of one of our nation’s most cherished traditions.

If the kegs, high-cholesterol snacks and million-dollar-football-game-turned-national-holiday weren’t any indication, the Super Bowl is just about as stereotypically “American” as it gets. Especially when it comes to to money.

Although the Super Bowl often fails to register as a major economic event in the minds of most viewers, the cost of marketing and advertising combined with production costs and ticket sales prior to the event makes the Super Bowl one of the most expensive – and profitable – events of the entire year.

Leading the economic charge is none other than America’s most famously indebted generation: The millennials. Priorities.

How Much Money Are We Talking?

With a record 83 million Americans falling under the “millennial” umbrella, Gen Y makes up roughly one quarter of the U.S. population and possesses roughly $200 billion in annual buying power. We tend to start the year off with a bang by spending exorbitant amounts of money on food, TVs and new furniture in order to properly celebrate the Super Bowl in style, according to USA Today

That $140 per millennial will contribute to an estimated grand total of $15.5 billion spent on the Super Bowl nationwide, trumping last year’s spend by over one billion dollars and giving 2016 the strong start it needs, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF)

“Two great teams going head-to-head and a historic game celebrating the 50th Super Bowl could make this one of the most-celebrated football games we’ve seen in some time,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “The excitement around the Super Bowl this year should help retailers and restaurants kick off 2016 on a positive track.”

Although we’re more than happy to dish out the dough when it comes to the Super Bowl party, millennials aren’t actually paying attention to the main attraction: The Super Bowl. Most millennials are eagerly awaiting another nip slip like in 2003 and care most about the halftime show. Obviously.

What Everyone Actually Cares About: The Ad Bowl

Millennials’ billion dollars worth of buying power is evidenced in the shamelessly targeted advertisements aired during the Super Bowl. 

Though Advertising Age predicts a targeted pivot towards Gen Z in the coming years, millennials are still a large focus for advertising professionals when creating 30-second advertisements at a record-setting $5 million per spot. According to Forbes, “the Super Bowl is arguably the only time each year where traditional advertising is guaranteed to reach millennials, a powerful cohort, soon to have more spending power than any other generation.”

The Super Bowl’s biggest advertiser, Anheuser-Busch, even went as far as restructuring their entire marketing approach in order to appeal to the millennial audience. 

“A-B’s focus is on prodding millennials to digitally engage with their two core brands,” explains USA Today reporter Bruce Horowitz.

Spoiler alert: This year, they’ll be doing so by introducing a baby Clydesdale into their hit Super Bowl commercial. Major Lil’ Sebastian vibes. Apparently, Budweiser has discovered our weak spot for heart-wrenching miniature horses and puppies in general.

Brands such as Dos Equis, Chipotle, Old Spice and Dove have also taken notice of Gen Y in recent years, creating humorous and heartwarming advertising campaigns to appeal to the impassioned hearts and wallets of America’s most optimistic generation. This year, we’ve even heard whisperings of a “Hotline Bling”-inspired T-Mobile ad.

Unique efforts to engage Gen Y have paid off. Dos Equis’ “The Most Interesting Man in the World” ad proved very popular among young professionals, sparking viral Internet popularity and a 20 to 30 percent increase in sales since 2007.

Our Take

When you catch that Sunday beer buzz and Monday morning hangover in the name of Super Bowl 50, keep in mind that the Super Bowl is just one example of our growing cultural and financial influence. As we continue to come of age, it’s imperative that we not only practice financial responsibility, but also understand our increasingly significant effect on the economy.

What are you looking forward to most this Super Bowl Sunday? Share your opinion in the comments section below or head over to our Facebook page.

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Posted 02.05.2016 - 04:22 pm EDT