Thursday, January 31, 2008
Are You Ready for Super Bud Bowl XLII?
Sunday is one of the largest -- if still unofficial -- holidays in the United States. An estimated 90 million people will watch the New England Patriots take on the New York Giants on Fox in Super Bowl XLII, while a lucky few advertisers will risk $2.7 million per 30-second time slot to try to grab the attention of television viewers.
That's right, I did say lucky advertisers. These companies and their advertising agencies are indeed lucky. First of all, there is more demand for space in the game than there is space. Political candidates were turned away because Fox realized it could not meet the fairness doctrine by offering equal time to all presidential candidates. Certainly, not every company has the marketing budget to support spending that kind of money in half a minute. And, in a time when media fragmentation is making it harder to reach a mass audience using mass media, the Super Bowl is as close as a big time brand can get to the days when there were just three national television networks and prime time was really prime.
The biggest of the big advertisers on the Super Bowl this season is Anheuser-Busch. When Super Bowl XLII is over, Budweiser and Bud Light will have been featured in one 60 second and six 30 second spots. That's right, A-B is buying four minutes of real estate in the game, with a street value of $21.6 million. A-B pays slightly lower rates because of volume discounts, but it does pay a premium to be the exclusive beer advertiser in the game. There will also be a spot that cell phone users can watch at the end of the game that ties into a promotion being run by the brewery.
If this was a political primary, it would be said that A-B benefits from a big bounce delivered by the game. Last year the A-B Super Bowl spots were watched 30 million times after the game by web surfers. A-B is making sure that the spots are widely available this year on YouTube and other sites.
Is it worth it? A-B must think so, during the last 20 years they have outspent the next closest advertiser overall by two to one and A-B has locked up the game through 2012.
Miller Brewing has decided not to ignore the King of Beers ad gambit, instead launching a new ad in the Miller Lite Dalmatian series that attempts to hijack one of the menagerie of animals A-B has used in its ads over the years. Miller Lite will spend about as much as a single spot on the Super Bowl to air the spot about 300 times in the four days leading up to the game on a variety of networks. The company has reportedly dispatched a number of Dalmatians and pretty women handlers to attend various Super Bowl functions in Arizona.
If Miller is frustrated by A-B's strangle hold on the Super Bowl, the neo-Prohibitionists at the Marin Institute are down right furious. They have called on the National Football League, broadcast networks and A-B to halt all alcohol advertising in the game, claiming that so many underage consumers watch the event that the ads are actually targeting youth. The fact is that the game is one of the few times most American families are actually gathered around the same television set at the same time. If the Marin Institute was at all interested in encouraging responsible consumption and having parents discuss the healthy use of alcohol with their kids they might be better served seeing if the NFL or Fox would donate some time for a public service message on the topic. Scratch that, they'd rather throw bombs through the media.
It will be interesting following the game to not only hear the analysis of how the teams performed, but also to see which spots overall get the highest favorable ratings from consumers. Surely, whether or not he wants the Patriots or the Giants to win, Bob Lachky, executive vice president for global industry and creative development at A-B, will have more than a passing interest in that score.