For Super Bowl Buy, Think Local

With Six Days to Go, Spots Still Available at Affiliates

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NEW YORK ( -- With six business days to go until Super Bowl Sunday, the CBS TV Stations group has two to three spots left in each of its local markets for advertisers seeking to take advantage of cheaper local ad buys than coughing up $2.6 million for a national buy.
To get around Anheuser-Busch's beer stranglehold on the Super Bowl in 2005, Heineken found airtime for its ad with Brad Pitt on local affilaites.
To get around Anheuser-Busch's beer stranglehold on the Super Bowl in 2005, Heineken found airtime for its ad with Brad Pitt on local affilaites.

According to executives on both the sales and buying side of the big game, the priciest 30-second spots are selling for around $300,000, and, not surprisingly, the most expensive local market is Chicago, as the hometown Bears are squaring off against the Indianapolis Colts. Audience levels are expected to be highest those two markets.

Good matchup for CBS
The matchup is good news for CBS, which owns its affiliate station in the Chicago market. Julio Marenghi, president-ad sales at the CBS TV Station group, said most new money had come from advertisers that had negotiated a contingency clause that stipulated they would buy time in the game if certain teams reached the final. Otherwise, he said he hasn't experienced a surge of last-minute buys and that he expects local sales will be wrapped up next week.

Marketers who can't buy into the big game because of category exclusivity clauses can get around that restriction by doing a local buy. In 2005, Heineken got around Anheuser-Busch's dominance of the beer category on the national level with a huge local spot buy for its ad featuring actor Brad Pitt on local Fox stations. Fox aired the Super Bowl in 2005.

"There are people who wait to see who the teams are to see if [the game is] going to be exciting," said Kathy Crawford, president-local broadcast at MindShare Worldwide.

Tough to get around exclusivity
But it might be tougher this year to orchestrate a local buy to get around exclusivity, because CBS owns many of its affiliates in major markets, Ms. Crawford said, and it will likely restrict those stations from selling ads to competitors of marketers that have already bought airtime on a national level.

CBS owns stations in Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Green Bay, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Sacramento, Salt Lake City and San Francisco.

While a local buy might seem like good value, Ms. Crawford said its important to realize that marketers aren't simply buying an in-game spot from the local affiliate, because affiliates often only allow buys in a package of spots that include pre-game, post-game and possibly other nights in prime-time that week. Marketers need to be prepared to factor that into their buys, she said.

Now that the matchup is decided, a number of marketers have chosen to publicize their participation in the game, including Walt Disney Co., InfoUSA's, Sprint and Coca-Cola Co. On a national level, CBS said it is 85% sold and is tying up a variety of negotiations.

Marketers gauge interest
JoAnn Ross, CBS president-ad sales, said yesterday at a Super Bowl panel, "Like any other event, like the Academy Awards, people want to wait to the last minute to see if they are going to get a discount. What has happened this year is that after our championship game on Sunday, which had one of the biggest ratings in years, there has been a lot of fresh interest."

The National Football Conference game on Fox between the Chicago Bears and the New Orleans Saints drew 43.2 million views and a 25.1 rating. The big numbers point to a huge interest in the Feb. 4 Super Bowl. Meanwhile, 46.7 million viewers tuned into CBS to watch Colts make it past their American Football Conference nemesis New England Patriots, the most-watched AFC championship since 1986.

"It might be a very intelligent thing for CBS to tell people how well the games did last Sunday," said Aaron Cohen, senior VP-director of national broadcast at Horizon Media.

CBS also has plans to involve its star news anchor Katie Couric in its Super Bowl coverage. Ms. Couric, who hosts the "CBS Evening News," will be featured in the pre-game package of events.
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