When the Ravens and 49ers clash on Sunday, Flo and the gecko will be sidelined. But there will be some Mayhem right after the game.
Allstate has purchased the first ad slot after the gun sounds and before the trophy ceremony. With the 30-second buy [below], which costs less than an in-game spot, the insurer believes that it is getting good value, considering the unique storylines that it predicts will increase post-game viewership.
"When looking at this year's Super Bowl match-up, it's likely there'll be more eyes on the end of the game than ever before," Senior VP-Marketing Lisa Cochrane said in an email, referencing thebrother-on-brother head coaching duel between Jim and John Harbaugh. In addition to the family intrigue, the post-game will surely include emotional interviews with retiring Ravens great Ray Lewis.
At the end of the game, "brothers will embrace, all-time greats will speak and Allstate will unveil a special Mayhem spot in Position 1A right when the game ends," Ms. Cochrane said. In the spot, (a 60-second version is show above) "we take a trip through time -- and see Mayhem in action from the Garden of Eden through some of the most significant, 'mayhemic' events ever," she said. "The end copy says it all: 'Mayhem is everywhere. Always has been. Always will be.' "
The ad is by longtime Allstate agency Leo Burnett.
But unless there is a last-minute surprise, no major car-insurance company will run an ad during the game. Indeed, the last time a big car-insurance marketer bought a Super Bowl ad was in 2007, when Nationwide ran a spot featuring Kevin Federline, the ex-Mr. Britney Spears. (Met Life bought in adin last year's game, but the insurer did not specifically plug its auto-insurance line, for which it has minimal market share. )
The lack of auto-insurance ads in the Big Game seems almost impossible to believe considering the escalating ad war in the category, in which marketers have blanketed the airwaves at a blistering pace. Geico, Progressive, State Farm and Allstate all ranked among the top 20 most-advertised megabrands, spending a combined $2.45 billion in 2011, the latest full-year data available, according to Ad Age DataCenter analysis of measured media spending from Kantar Media.
One reason car insurers have stayed away is that most have well-established campaigns, and don't feel the need to create awareness though a one-time ad hit costing upwards of $3.8 million for a 30-second Super Bowl spot, top execs told Ad Age. "Most brands utilize that airtime to create broad awareness, often featuring new products and campaigns. We already have an established, well-known campaign with Flo and the Superstore," Progressive Chief Marketing Officer Jeff Charney said in an email statement.
Geico - which leads the insurance spending pack at $769 million in measured media - has never bought a network Super Bowl spot. "We find the playing field to be a little pricey," Ted Ward, the marketer's CMO, said in an interview with Ad Age a couple years ago. "We don't find that that the price attached to it would deliver the value for us," he said, noting that Geico is past the point of needing to establish its brand awareness.
But the way Allstate's Ms. Cochrane sees it, this year's post-game presented a unique opportunity to get massive reach. "I'm taking advantage of some terrific plotlines I think it will keep viewers engaged throughout the trophy presentation," she said. "I'm getting a big bunch of reach." Allstate declined to say what it is paying for the position. Media buyers say post-game in general goes for about $800,000 a 30-second spot, though the pod immediately after the game is likely to be priced higher than that. How much higher is hard to estimate, because it depends on the media-buying clout of Allstate, a heavy TV advertiser, as well as demand by other advertisers for the same position.
Even without the brother-on-brother storyline, last year's postgame was the second-highest rated program of the week, with viewership dropping from 111 million for the game to 76.8 million (which still dwarfed other top-ranked shows), according to TV By the Numbers.
Nationwide ran Super Bowl ads in 2006 and 2007 staring Fabio and Mr. Federline, but decided to reallocatethe money in 2008 to an expensive Nascar sponsorship.
In a recent interview, CMO Matt Jauchius did not rule out another appearance in the Big Game, but said for now it does not make sense for his company. While the Super Bowl is great for reach, it falls short when it comes to frequency, he said. The reason insurers look for high frequency is that they must continually hammer messages to consumers who would rather not think about insurance. Experts say most people only ponder policies when they have an accident, buy a new car, move, or renew their existing agreement, which usually happens twice a year.
For car insurers, a Super Bowl ad might still make sense for a brand relaunch, as a way to "punch through," Mr. Jauchius said. Indeed, that is what Nationwide did in 2006 and 2007 when it sought to re-ignite its then-"Life Comes at you Fast" campaign. But this year, the marketer chose the Summer Olympics to debut its newest campaign, called "Join the Nation," which took advantage of two weeks of programming, rather than one single event.
Contributing: Brian Steinberg