B-to-b advertisers punt on Super Bowl

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Despite the opportunity to reach a U.S. audience of roughly 130 million viewers on Jan. 26, not many b-to-b advertisers are suiting up for Super Bowl XXXVII.

At press time, only four b-to-b marketers were confirmed as advertisers during the game, which is being broadcast by CBS. They were: FedEx Corp., AT&T Corp., and All of these companies advertised during last year’s Super Bowl game.

"The Super Bowl has always been an amazing opportunity to talk to the largest audience possible," said Craig Tartasky, president of Vertical Sports and Entertainment L.L.C., a Bethesda, Md., sports consulting firm.

"The real dilemma with the Super Bowl is the cost of entry," he said, pointing to a price of approximately $2.25 million for a 30-second spot this year. "[Companies] may not have as much latitude in their budgets to invest that much."

This year’s Super Bowl advertisers believe that, despite the cost, the game represents a significant marketing opportunity.

This is the fifth consecutive year that both and rival job site will advertise during the Super Bowl.

"It’s a very receptive audience from a job seeker’s point of view," said Marc Karasu, VP-advertising at "And for the check writers—the corporations—it’s an equally important time for them to hear our message." Karasu added that the timing of the broadcast makes it a particularly effective media vehicle because so many corporations begin their hiring for the year in January.

The ad, developed by Brand Architecture International, New York, an Omnicom company, is a continuation of the "Onward and Upward" campaign that ran during last year’s Super Bowl. The new ad will promote HotJobs’ alliance with Yahoo! and a new search service the two companies are launching this month.

FedEx Corp. will run a spot developed by BBDO, New York, that continues its "Business Legends" campaign, designed to show the many ways in which the delivery service solves business problems.

"We see [the Super Bowl] as a positive way to reach customers and be closely aligned with sporting events in the community," said Jess Bunn, a FedEx spokesman. The Super Bowl audience demographic fits FedEx’s goal of reaching people who make shipping decisions for large and small companies, he added.

Sports consultant Tartasky said the broadcast is best for established companies with strong brands to get their messages across. For newer companies, or for those launching new products and services, the Super Bowl can be challenging as an advertising vehicle, he said. For example, AT&T’s "mLife" campaign didn’t fare well in a Merwyn Persuasion Research report following last year’s Super Bowl.

While many ad agency execs extol the virtues of the Super Bowl, they, too, warn b-to-b advertisers to be careful how they use it.

"It’s the one vehicle that crosses all demographics and job descriptions," said Mark Stewart, exec-VP, director of strategy and channel planning at Universal McCann, North America. "It’s pretty easy to make a price/value justification because there is nothing like this out there."

However, Stewart warned, "For b-to-b advertisers to have it work correctly, you have to have creative worth looking at. If your creative is not up to speed, don’t bother. And if your creative has been out there, don’t bother."

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