Few b-to-b firms are suiting up for Super Bowl XLIII

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Super Bowl advertisements in the past have ranged from the silly to the sublime, and this year may be no different. The annual National Football League championship game, scheduled for Feb. 1 on NBC with an expected audience of almost 100 million, will feature the usual lineup of beer and chips advertisers, as well as cellist Yo-Yo Ma playing Bach in a Hyundai commercial. The cost of participating in Super Bowl XLIII isn't cheap at $3 million per 30-second spot. Back again are jobs-sourcing sites CareerBuilder and Monster, which may be gearing up for their biggest response yet, given the weakened economy and the nationwide scramble for employment. Web domain name registrar GoDaddy, known for its risqué spots during past Super Bowls, is returning for the fifth time. Asked whether GoDaddy would change its strategy this year, given the state of the economy, Barb Rechterman, exec VP of Go Daddy Group, said: “Our strategy hasn't changed. We will continue to use a GoDaddy-esque ad, meaning it's fun, edgy and slightly inappropriate. ... If anything, people could probably use a break from all the negative news. Humor is important. So no, we aren't changing our game plan.” Also appearing during Super Bowl XLIII will be General Electric Co., which is using the game to kick off a “multifaceted” marketing campaign, said company spokeswoman Lisa Lanspery. “We're still finalizing the ad itself, but it's part of a holistic ad campaign at GE, just one aspect of which is the Super Bowl,” she said. “The Super Bowl isn't right for every advertiser and it never has been,” said John Osborn, president-CEO of BBDO New York. “It's always critical before committing to the Super Bowl that you have a strong sense of purpose [as to] why you're in the game. The economy today only amplifies that.” The economy is the reason FedEx Corp. is out of the Super Bowl lineup for the first time in 12 years. “Make no mistake, our advertising presence in 18 Super Bowls since 1989 has strategically allowed FedEx to establish itself as a household name,” Steve Pacheco, FedEx ad director, wrote in the company's blog. “As a responsible employer of more than 290,000 employees and contractors worldwide, there is a time to justify such an ad spend and a time to step back.” Also absent will be database services company infoGROUP (formerly infoUSA), a Super Bowl advertiser in 2007 and 2008. Returning advertiser GoDaddy had 14 separate ad rejections in the run-up to the 2006 Super Bowl. Last year, it once again had its spot banned (by Fox) and broadcast instead a teaser spot inviting viewers to go to its Web site to see the rejected version. This year GoDaddy's in-house agency is producing two spots featuring race-car driver Danica Patrick. One advertising initiative that might have expanded the Super Bowl lineup significantly was the brainchild of Los Angeles agency Cesario Migliozzi, which planned to pay the going rate of $3 million for a 30- second spot featuring eight different companies simultaneously, each of which would pay $395,000 for the privilege. Preliminary clients included Facebook, JetBlue and Virgin Mobile, according to the agency, but NBC, which was initially open to the project, nixed the deal. “What would have happened was, all logos would appear on a curtain for 30 seconds, with below that a Busby Berkeley sendoff, tap-dancing gals and an accordion player, maybe,” said Michael Migliozzi, creative director and partner in the firm. Super Bowl returnees and Monster may enjoy extra success this year, as job-seekers look for help in a weakened economy. “For every trend, there is a counter-trend,” BBDO's Osborn said. “For some, the Super Bowl is too risky; but that might be another marketer's opportunity. There will always be companies and brands that will look at a down market as an opportunity and vice versa.” Osborn noted that while the Super Bowl is dominated by consumer products, its viability as a b-to-b media platform is strong. “B-to-b influencers and decision-makers are people, too,” he said. “B-to-b companies can gain from Super Bowl exposure as long as the messaging is impactful and engaging. The Super Bowl is a time when people want to decompress, laugh and seek optimism, which is more relevant than ever in a down market.” M
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