NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- This year, some of the Super Bowl's best-known advertisers are unable or unwilling to spend the millions required to play in the game. Gone since 2009's game are General Motors and FedEx. And now 2010's event will be the first in many years to not include beverages from PepsiCo.
GM's financial issues are well known; FedEx opted out of the last game citing economic concerns. PepsiCo, in the midst of launching a social-responsibility-themed campaign for its flagship brand, believes new campaigns for its beverages will play better in arenas other than those devoted to football. So where does that leave the Super Bowl? Well, it's still a place for advertisers who are happy to spend to reach the year's biggest TV audience. CBS, the broadcaster of the next game, has fewer than five spots available and has sought somewhere in the range of around $2.5 million to $3 million for a 30-second spot. And the Bowl remains a haven for ads from makers of beer, snacks and movies.
Increasingly, however, lesser-knowns are latching on to this classic ad vehicle in the hope their TV ads push consumers to visit a website or make a trip to the store. If you're a megabrand like Pepsi, GM or FedEx, people already know about your product. You don't need to use a sledgehammer when digital technology offers so many more precise instruments.
The newbies are the ones who need the instant recognition and curiosity the Bowl can generate. As such, look to upstarts for the attention-getting stunts. HomeAway has licensed use of 1983's "National Lampoon's Vacation" so that Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo can reprise their roles as Mr. and Mrs. Clark Griswold. For its PopSecret popcorn, Diamond Foods has enlisted Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, which helped generate buzz for another up-and-coming snack brand -- Emerald Nuts.
Of course, Anheuser-Busch InBev -- long the king of the Bowl (and beers) will hawk Bud Light and Budweiser and the rest. Yet new-timers have taken a greater share of the lineup in recent years. Since 2005, first-timers have comprised at least 21% of the Super Bowl lineup; 26% in 2005, 24% in 2006, 22% in 2007 and 21% in 2008, according to TNS Media Intelligence. The final lineup, of course, is never determined until the days before the game. But with a number of veterans sitting on the sidelines, this coming Super Bowl certainly has the potential to surprise.