The NFL is up, Ascential is down, Tubi races into Nascar and Chris Singleton sings for Ram: Trending
Not that there was any doubt, but the National Football League asserted itself as the dominant TV force for years to come with its new media rights deals with CBS, Fox, NBC, ESPN and ABC valued at a mind-blowing $105 billion from 2023 to 2033. The networks, along with Amazon, are paying up because there still is nothing remotely close to live football for drawing mass audiences that advertisers covet. The NFL doesn’t just run television, “the NFL right now is television,” The Ringer’s Bryan Curtis said on the latest edition of “The Press Box” podcast.
Ascential, the owner of MediaLink, reported steep financial losses for 2020, stung by the 2020 cancelation of marquee in-person events it runs, including Cannes Lions. The results—which included a revenue drop of 31% last year—could put more pressure on the firm to figure out a way to salvage some form of in-person Cannes this year.
The latest buzz is that organizers are working on some sort of hybrid of digital and in-person, with the latter component significantly scaled down and perhaps dispersed geographically, as Ad Age recently reported. During Ascential’s earnings call earlier this week, Ascential CEO Duncan Painter indicated that the company was waiting on the French government “to set out a clear timetable for their exit from the pandemic” before finalizing its plans, which he said he does not expect until mid-April, according to a transcript of the call. The COVID news out of Europe of late has not been good, with a new wave of infections forcing more lockdowns.
Singing for sales
Stellantis Chief Marketing Officer Olivier Francois, known for music marketing deals (see: Bruce Springsteen), has signed another hot talent. A new campaign for Ram features a custom track called “I’m A Ram” from country music star Chris Stapleton. Ads will run during March Madness.
Number of the week
$64 million: How much Tim Hortons is spending this year (converted from $80 million Canadian) to “supercharge advertising expenses” and invest in efforts such as its rewards program after a steep sales decline in 2020. Canadian restaurant owners will also contribute a bit more to the advertising fund.
Drifting into hard seltzers
Another day, another new hard seltzer. Spindrift, known for its fruit juice-infused sparkling water, is coming out with Spindrift Spiked, which includes sparkling water, alcohol from cane sugar and real squeezed fruit, checking in at a relatively light 4% alcohol-by-volume. Just like its sparkling waters, the liquids take the color of the fruits, which the brand is using as a differentiator in a hard seltzer market filled mostly with clear liquids. The offering, which will debut in Boston, Los Angeles and San Diego, continues the trend of non-alcoholic brands dipping into the hot-selling hard seltzer market, such as Topo Chico, which just tapped Droga5 for the launch campaign for its hard seltzer.
Quote of the week
“Brands should not be out there trying any ploy or stunt in a shameless bid for publicity. That won’t go down well.”
—Mary Zalla, global president of consumer brands at brand and design consultancy Landor & Fitch, warning brands about April Fools' Day stunts. More advice for marketers here.
Tweet of the week
A new deal in the streaming race
Tubi’s got its own race car. The Fox Entertainment free streaming platform has a new deal with Nascar’s Chip Ganassi Racing that includes car branding on the No. 42 team, led by driver Ross Chastain. The deal also includes Fox Sports personality Erin Andrews who has been named a “Tubi ambassador.”
Degree will air live ad on Final Four
Unilever’s Degree deodorant will put four fans in a commercial airing live April 3 during the NCAA semifinals on CBS, the first time a brand has featured user-generated content in a Final Four ad. The ad will announce live the winners of a virtual social-media Dance Cam sweepstakes and show their pre-recorded dance moves. The contest starts today, when games in the March Madness field of 64 begin, and runs through March 30 at 11:59 p.m.
Fans will post videos via Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #KeepMoving, and former NBA star Kenny “The Jet” Smith will lead dances for Degree on its social channels. WPP’s Mindshare and Turner developed the campaign. While the games will have fans in attendance, at 25% capacity, it’s a far cry from the usual raucous crowds. The contest is part of Degree’s branding shift toward celebrating sweat. “Nothing gets fans out of their seats and breaking a sweat quite like dance cams on the Jumbotron,” says Dawn Hedgespeth, VP of deodorants, skincare and men’s grooming at Unilever. “But so much has changed because of the pandemic, which means that fans won’t have the chance to show off their moves.”
On the move
Restaurant chain Smokey Bones named Nichole Robillard as VP of marketing. Her prior roles include experience working at agencies including Zimmerman Advertising, on accounts including McDonald's, Chuck E. Cheese and Jamba Juice.
Contributing: Jack Neff, Jessica Wohl