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Ads: Still Super


EVEN AS networkadvertising declines, the Super Bowl remains nearly immune. NBC has sold 59 ofits 67 half-minute ads to Super Bowl XLIII—just slightly behind Fox's pace lastyear—for a record $3 million each. While The Wall Street Journal reported that57 of those spots were sold by September, before the worst of the economiccrisis, buyers don't appear to be suffering remorse. Says Dave DeCecco, aspokesman for PepsiCo, "We can't afford not to participate. When youconsider how many people watch, the costs are pretty good."

Last February'sSuper Bowl drew a record 97.4 million viewers, so the $2.7 million ads brokedown to a cost per mille (i.e., the cost to reach 1,000 viewers) of $27.70. Bycomparison, an ad during an ordinary Sunday-night game on NBC costs $434,792;with an average of 11.7 million viewers through 10 games this fall, that's acost per mille of $37.16. "[The Super Bowl] is still the only time you canreach pretty much everyone who's watching TV on a given day," says PeterGardiner, chief press officer for the media-planning company Deutsch Inc.

E*Trade was oneof last February's big winners, taking two ads in the big game even though itsstock had lost about 80% of its value over the previous year. E*Trade's talkingbaby ads were a hit, and the company saw a 32% jump in newly opened and fundedbrokerage accounts the ensuing week, as compared with the same week in 2007when it did not have a Super Bowl ad. And while troubled General Motors won'thave an ad for the first time in a decade, that decision came partly becausethe automaker won't have a major product launch in early 2009.

According to JohnOsborn, president of the ad agency BBDO New York, which will produce severalspots for Super Bowl XLIII, companies which have bought time on the broadcastaren't spending less on casting or effects. That's because the ads aren't justwidely watched but, with all the pregame and postgame buzz about them, veryclosely watched. Another reason they just might remain a $3 millionbargain.

$3 million
Record price per 30-second Super Bowl ad

59 Of the 67 spots sold