NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- CBS is close to selling out approximately 80% of its ad inventory for Super Bowl XLIV, according to a person familiar with the situation, a sign that the sports-advertising marketplace may be recovering more quickly than other TV venues.
CBS is still hesitant to force a price point into its discussions but has sought between $2.5 million and $3 million for a 30-second spot in the game, according to this person. As usual, the price hinges on the position of the ad within the telecast as well as whether advertisers want to get more involved with the event by buying up pre-game time or other CBS sports inventory. CBS is expected to broadcast the game from Miami on Feb. 7, 2010.
The pace of sales emphasizes marketer interest in big-audience sporting events. Already, sales for NFL and college-football games at many networks have garnered better-than-expected interest, particularly as cash-strapped consumers stay at home and rely more heavily on televised entertainment.
NBC's first several "Sunday Night Football" broadcasts of the season, for example, have been ratings bonanzas, and CBS has seen substantial advertiser interest in its college football games. ESPN scored the highest-rated cable event in history for its "Monday Night Football" game between the Vikings and the Packers this week, thanks to widespread interest in the return of Brett Favre. Marketer interest in the events has also been fueled by the fact that viewers often watch them live, rather than fast-forwarding through content -- and past ads -- with digital video recorders.
Next year's Super Bowl is also shaping up as a showcase for feisty ad battles. Already, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola are committed to the game. Now, online jobs site Monster is expected to join the fray, according to two people familiar with the situation, and it's lining up for consumer attention against CareerBuilder. That company has already stated it will run one ad, which is expected to show up early in the second quarter of the game.
Competing job sites
Monster's advertising is expected to be related to a promotion that would make one Monster fan an "ambassador" for Monster and the NFL, a position the company is calling a "director of fandemonium." In a news release issued earlier this month, Monster said it would crown one fan "director" on the day of the Super Bowl, after holding several events during the NFL season. A Monster spokesman said "we're not going to confirm our intentions at this stage."
While Super Bowl marketers often say they focus more intently on their own commercials, rather than those of their competitors, the pigskin classic has grown more intense recently. In the last telecast, PepsiCo and its media buying agency, Omnicom Group's OMD, struck a pact ensuring that ads for Coca-Cola products would not run until the second half of the game, when audiences typically start to decrease unless the contest is a close one.
Surprisingly, being one half of a classic yin-and-yang pair can help a marketer stand out in the Super Bowl, said one marketing adviser. "Some of the [brand] parity comes from a desire to be [part of] a No. 1 and a No. 2," said Scott Lerman, CEO of brand-consultancy Lucid Brands. Some marketers may prefer to "have one of the top two spots than be obscured back in the pack," he added.
At CareerBuilder, the focus is on creating a memorable Super Bowl ad -- not trying to keep tabs on Monster. "If you design your plan around a rivalry aspect, you're going to lose that engagement level with the consumer, which is why you're there in the first place," said Richard Castellini, chief marketing officer of CareerBuilder.
Other advertisers who have already signaled they will appear in the Super Bowl include Hyundai Motor, Bridgestone, GoDaddy.com, and, of course, InBev Anheuser-Busch.