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Joins GM, Anheuser-Busch, GlaxoSmithKline in Early Buys

By Published on .

LOS ANGELES (AdAge.com) -- CBS has already sold about a third of its commercial inventory for next year's Super Bowl at $2.4 million per 30-second spot, according to
P&G, which is revamping its advertising philosophy, will be a Super Bowl player this year.
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media executives. That's 14% higher than the $2.1 million average for this year's game.

Landmark moment
About 20 30-second in-game spots have been sold -- and in a landmark moment, Procter & Gamble Co. is among the buyers. Pharmaceutical giants Bayer and GlaxoSmithKline's Levitra and General Motor's Cadillac have also signed on, according to the executives. Anheuser-Busch, a Super Bowl mainstay, is said to have bought nine to 10 spots.

CBS declined to comment. Super Bowl XXXVIII will be broadcast on the Viacom network Feb. 1, 2004.

P&G has traditionally sat on the sidelines during the game, advertising's showcase event. But it is trying to raise its creative profile and sees the event as a place to prominently show off new work. It's not known which brand will use the slot. P&G has tip-toed around the Super Bowl before, with a pre-game buy for Tide in 1998 and a post-game Pringles spot in 2001.

Male-potency drug
Levitra, a new male-potency drug, recently signed a three-year NFL deal that includes media spending of $10 million to $15 million. Cadillac is coming up on the last year of a three-year NFL deal that also includes media spending.

Officials at P&G, Anheuser-Busch and Cadillac confirmed their participation in the game. GlaxoSmithKline executives did not return calls.

Omnicom Group's OMD USA, usually a major Super Bowl TV buyer, has not yet bought any spots. Its clients in the game last year included Pepsi-Cola, FedEx, Visa USA and Vivendi Universal's Universal Pictures. OMD executives could not be reached for comment.

Price breaks
CBS made virtually all its deals in upfront packages that included entertainment programming in prime-time, according to media executives, giving discounts to advertisers for their early commitments. Anheuser-Busch is believed to have gotten a big price break as well, based on the number of slots it bought.

Last year, Walt Disney Co.'s ABC aired the Super Bowl and sold in-game spots as part of its upfront sports programming deals for both ABC and ESPN, but did not include its prime-time entertainment programming as part of those buys.

"The Super Bowl has almost hit a critical mass on unit costs," said Larry Novernstern, senior vice president and director of national broadcast for Interpublic Group of Cos.' Deutsch. "There hasn't been a huge influx of money in that area. You haven't seen huge new corporate partners coming in [the last few years]. It's not a supply-and-demand issue as much as the prime-time upfront."

Pre-game programming
CBS is selling its pre-game programming much like ABC did, in hourly sponsorship increments from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. So far, Sony Computer Entertainment America's PlayStation 2 and Cadillac have bought sponsorships, media executives said. Cadillac will be the title sponsor of "Phil Simm's All-Iron Team," as well the post-game sponsor, including the presentation of the most valuable player award. AT&T Wireless will return as the half-time sponsor, executives said. Sony didn't return phone calls. An AT&T Wireless spokesman said, "It's way to soon to speculate on our plans."

Viacom's MTV will produce the half-time show as well as a one-hour Super Bowl pre-show from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. Sibling Nickelodeon will do a special Super Bowl pre-show at 11 a.m. While the Super Bowl is moving briskly, ad sales for the NFL regular season and playoff games on ABC, ESPN, CBS and News Corp.'s Fox are selling slowly, said media buying executives. About 30% of NFL inventory has been sold. Network executives said ABC and CBS are looking for 8% cost-per-thousand [viewers] increases, while Fox is asking for 10%.

NFL: 'A good market'
"The NFL is not nearly as robust as the prime-time market, but it's still a good market," said Bob Riordan, senior vice president and managing director of national broadcast for Havas' Media Planning Group, New York. "They'll settle in the mid- to high-single-digit increases -- somewhere between 6% and 9%. It's very orderly and deliberate. The prime-time was drunk and disorderly."

Media buying and selling executives say NFL cost-per-thousand prices are already much higher on average than network prime-time inventory, so there is little room to grow. Some of the NFL's top advertising categories, automotive and financial services, are struggling and their respective budgets aren't growing. Media buyers expect most of the market will move after the July 4 holiday weekend.

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Richard Linnett and Jack Neff contributed to this report.

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