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Super Bowl advertisers create buzz

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Advertisers during Super Bowl XLII must do more than pony up $2.7 million for a 30-second spot—they must be willing to commit the resources to develop marketing messages that will entertain audiences and live beyond the broadcast, say marketers and industry experts.

So far, b-to-b advertisers for this year's game are few. Super Bowl regulars FedEx and CareerBuilder have confirmed they will advertise during the game, but other b-to-b advertisers have not committed yet or have decided not to participate this year.

Monster Worldwide, which has advertised in recent Super Bowl games, has not decided if it will advertise in this year's game, said CMO Joan Blackwood.

"The Super Bowl is an effective tool if you're launching a brand into the marketplace or you're trying to get awareness up," she said. "This is a brand that already enjoys 90% to 92% awareness."

Instead, Monster is funneling more of its advertising dollars into cross-platform opportunities, such as a deal with ABC to advertise on original programs replayed on ABC.com. "This is a growing sector that is becoming more important to us. It is TiVo-proof advertising."

FedEx still game

FedEx will run a 45-second spot during this year's game, which will be broadcast Feb. 3 on Fox. It will be the 18th year that FedEx has advertised during the game since 1989.

"As a leader in our industry, we think it's important to take prominent roles in big media events, and the Super Bowl for us is still the best opportunity to give engaged viewers top-line messaging about our brand," said Steve Pacheco, director of advertising at FedEx.

Pacheco said the ad is still under development and he declined to give detailed information about it. "It will be big, and funny and classic FedEx. We think it's one of our better efforts," he said.

Last year during the Super Bowl broadcast, FedEx debuted its "Stick" ad, featuring cavemen trying to send a package. The ad, developed by BBDO New York, won a prime time Emmy Award.

Pacheco said FedEx measures the performance of its ad campaigns based on awareness metrics, using proprietary research and independent research, such as the USA Today poll of top Super Bowl ads.

"For us, it is more about awareness," he said. "It's not like someone is going to mail an overnight package the next day because of our Super Bowl ad, but it does put us in the consideration set when someone does have a need."

"The Super Bowl makes sense for certain brands, but it is not for all brands," said John Osborn, president-CEO of BBDO New York. He said the Super Bowl is suitable for companies that are launching new products or are trying to raise awareness at the national level.

"If you are going to advertise on the Super Bowl, you have to recognize that you are going to be on center stage in front of millions of eyeballs, and you have to have a message that is compelling and entertaining," Osborn said.

Osborn cautioned that with so many other media options available, advertisers have to carefully weigh their Super Bowl strategy.

However, there are benefits to advertising on broadcasts of live events such as the Super Bowl, he said.

"Those b-to-b brands that committed to the Super Bowl early may reap added benefit and added value, given that the writers strike has forced a cancellation of other high-profile programming—including the Golden Globes—thereby putting increased attention, increased eyeballs and increased value on those live events that remain on the schedule, like the Super Bowl," he said.

Emily Sobol, senior consultant at Nielsen Online Strategic Services, agreed that advertisers must be prepared to commit resources to Super Bowl programs that go above and beyond normal advertising efforts.

"It's not just the $2.7 million TV buy," Sobol said. "If you are really going to create buzz and get the most out of your Super Bowl ad, you are going to have to hire the best directors and the best talent. and make sure your ad lives on well after the game."

She pointed to an ad that ran during last year's Super Bowl for Nationwide Insurance, featuring celebrity Kevin Federline. The ad was ranked No. 2 among Super Bowl ads that were most actively blogged about the day following the game, according to data from Nielsen Online.

Sobol noted that Nationwide spent a significant amount of money on creating the ad, as well as generating buzz activities around it, including posting it on its Web site as well as YouTube and other social networking sites.

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