B-to-b advertising scarce during Super Bowl XXXVI

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Call it the battle of the Roman numerals.

With two major sporting events happening just one week apart, many b-to-b advertisers chose the Winter Olympics XIX over Super Bowl XXXVI to run ad campaigns.

Advertisers that opted out of the Super Bowl cited the expense of advertising during the big football game and the difficulty of reaching their target audience.

"The Super Bowl has gotten astronomically expensive," said Tina McDermott, manager of worldwide strategic advertising for Xerox Corp., which passed on the event this year and instead will advertise heavily during the Winter Olympics.

The cost of a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl had risen to $2.5 million, although sources said Fox had dropped the price below $2 million because it was having difficulty selling time.

AT&T Corp. chose the venue to break its new "mLife" campaign to promote a mobile lifestyle. Other b-to-b advertisers during the Super Bowl included, FedEx Corp., E-Trade Group and H&R Block.

However, with the exception of H&R Block, b-to-b advertisers all fared poorly on the Merwyn Persuasion Research report by Merwyn Technology, Cincinnati. Merwyn uses computer modeling to predict the probability that an advertisement will have a tangible impact on customer purchase behavior.

Kudos for H&R Block

H&R Block, which ran an ad about tax code changes, came out No. 6 on the list, with a 39% persuasion score. FedEx Corp.’s "Great Idea" ad ranked No. 19, with a 21% score. Ads by,, AT&T and E-Trade tied for last place, with 10% scores.

Many Super Bowl ads had an emotional, post-Sept. 11 flavor. "While Super Bowl commercials were busy tugging at heartstrings, they aren’t likely to do much for the companies that paid for them," said Doug Hall, CEO of Merwyn.

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