NBC is down to less than 10 Super Bowl spots to sell before the game kicks off on Feb. 4, Dan Lovinger, executive VP of advertising sales at NBC Universal Sports Group, said during a press call on Thursday.
It's difficult to say just how much progress the peacock has made since its last Super Bowl update in October, when Lovinger said only a "handful" of units remained.
NBC is averaging $5 million for a 30-second spot during the game, Lovinger said. And it expects to generate $500 million in ad revenue linked to the Super Bowl, including pre and post-game units as well as commercials during the "This Is Us" episode following the game.
While this NFL season has seen some innovation in advertising tactics, including the introduction of six-second ads inspired by digital video formats, Lovinger said he is seeing more interest in longer commercials for the Super Bowl than short-form.
"You will see more longer-form, longer than :30s, than you have in any other Super Bowl," he says. "Advertisers look at this as the ultimate platform to tell a story and storytelling takes a little bit of time."
The automotive and movie studios categories, typically powerful presences in the Super Bowl alongside beverages and food, are again strong in 2018, Lovinger said. Consumer packaged goods remains an "emerging" category. (The few CPG advertisers in the 2017 game on Fox included Persil ProClean's "10 Dimensions," Mr. Clean's "Cleaner of Your Dreams" and Tide's "Bradshaw Stain.")
The last time NBC aired the Super Bowl in 2015, it faced a challenging ad sales marketplace. The peacock didn't announce that it was it sold out of commercial time until just a few days before the game.
This year, NBC begins broadcasting the Winter Olympics less than a week after the Super Bowl; Lovinger says he expects the games will exceed $900 million in national ad sales. NBC Universal said it sold $800 million in advertising for the 2014 games in Sochi, Russia, a record at that time for the winter games, and roughly $750 million in ads for the 2010 Vancouver and 2002 Salt Lake City games.
In the previous two winter and summer games, NBC has fallen short of its ratings guarantees to advertisers. While ratings for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio failed to match projections, it still managed to rake in over a quarter-billion dollars in profit. For 2018, Lovinger said he is expecting ratings to be close to those of Sochi.
This time around, however, NBC will not be guaranteeing audiences for advertisers based on a household rating, which is how ad inventory in the Olympics is typically sold. Its Olympics guarantees will now count viewing beyond linear TV, spanning the traditional screen, NBC Universal apps, over-the-top streaming video devices and other non-traditional platforms. (Networks never guarantee ratings at all for the Super Bowl.)
Monster Products, which makes headphones and speakers, will make its Super Bowl debut with a spot starring Iggy Azalea, the company announced at the Consumer Electronics Show on Wednesday and in a subsequent tweet.
@HeadMonster announces that @IGGYAZALEA is now part of the @MonsterProducts family and is set to help launch the NEW #AirLinks #Elements which will culminate with Iggy staring in our first-ever @SuperBowl commercial – at Mandalay Bay Convention Center
Given the expected scrutiny of the way women appear in Super Bowl commercials as a result of the #metoo movement, Azalea's role will be interesting to see. The Australian rapper put on a racy performance in Las Vegas this week. The Daily Mail described the scene as "male dominated," adding that Azalea touched herself during her performance and was spanked by her backup dancers.
Pepsi flashes back
It looks like Pepsi wants to go back in time, before negative reaction to its Kendall Jenner ad enveloped the beverage giant last year. For the Super Bowl, Pepsi is revisiting its glory days, with Cindy Crawford recreating her iconic 1992 Pepsi Super Bowl commercial, Ad Age's E.J. Schultz writes. The spot will include her 18-year-old son Presley Walker Gerber as well as Pepsi endorsers from previous campaigns.
The original Crawford ad, "New Can (Two Kids)," was shot like "a small movie," as BBDO Senior Creative Director Lee Garfinkel said soon after it aired. Crawford was part of a 90's Pepsi endorsement roster that also included Madonna, Michael Jackson and Michael J. Fox, but "New Can" was among the brand's best-remembered.
The 2018 reprise won't be the first time pop culture or Pepsi would revisit the ad. Later versions included a spoof co-starring late-night TV host James Corden and a Diet Pepsi ad replacing Crawford entirely with an emoji.
Speaking of flashbacks...
One of the best parts of Super Bowl commercials is the music. Here's a look at some of the best big game anthems from Ad Age's archive of more than 1,000 Super Bowl commercials. Try to get "Cheese, Glorious Cheese" out of your head.
Advertising the ads
M&Ms enlisted movie critics for a teaser promoting its Super Bowl spot to air Thursday night on The CW during the "Critics' Choice Awards," Jessica Wohl reports. A small number of film critics previewed the M&Ms commercial. Other marketers are undoubtedly gearing up to promote their expensive big-game spots in the weeks and days leading up to kick-off.
Not so Wonderful
The Wonderful Company, which last year ran Super Bowl ads for both its Wonderful Pistachios and Fiji Water brands, has no plans to come back for 2018, according to Adweek. Fiji made its Super Bowl debut last year with a recycled ad, while Wonderful Pistachios featured its Ernie the Elephant character.
See Ad Age's complete, sortable rundown of every confirmed Super Bowl ad so far, plus details on creative strategies and the agencies behind them.
And if you really like numbers...
When Super Bowl LII is a wrap on Feb. 4, marketers will have spent a total of some $5.4 billion advertising in the game's first 52 years, according to an exhaustive Ad Age Datacenter rundown of ad prices and total spending in every Super Bowl so far.
The Super Bowl alone this year will capture about 2.5% of broadcast network advertising for the entire year, double its share in 2010, Datacenter calculates.
The price per second for a 2018 commercial is roughly $168,333.