For some, Super Bowl buy means saying good-bye to exclusivity

Major sponsors are returning and newbies CIBC and Pizza Hut are on board, but there are still spots available, says CTV.

The Super Bowl is just one week away, and while one of sport’s biggest TV events is not immune to troubling financial times, it seems to be making forward progress.

‘We’re a little bit behind where we were last year this time, but last year this time we weren’t sold out,’ says Rick Brace, president, revenue, business planning and sports at CTV, the exclusive Canadian broadcaster of the Bowl. ‘There are spots available and people are buying every day. We’re maybe not as pessimistic as what we’re hearing from the US.’

Returning major sponsors include Labatt, the title sponsor of NFL in Canada, Pepsi and Nissan, but there are new ones thrown into the lineup – CIBC and Pizza Hut, for instance.

Last week NBC released that about 10% of their spots were still up for sale at a going rate of US$3 million each. Brace didn’t divulge the percentage of ad spots that are still available at CTV, but given the traditionally high audience attraction of the game, remains confident. Last year’s Super Bowl attracted 4.2 million Canadian viewers.

What’s different this year is that some industries are throwing exclusivity to the wayside in order to grab a more affordable piece of the pie.

‘Some have been reduced to a certain extent – Rogers for example is reduced a little bit. But the offset to that is that Bell has now come on in a pre-game and lead-up role,’ Brace tells MiC.

Auto sponsors on board for Feb. 1 include Nissan, KIA, and Ford.

This type of shake up is also happening in other sports, like hockey, says Bruce, where the title automotive sponsorship is no more. ‘It became a premium that couldn’t be afforded by one company, and now you wind up with things like period sponsorships. So you get exclusivity for a shorter period of time.’

Pepsi, the half-time sponsor, has produced two new Diet Pepsi ‘Forever Young’ spots, ‘Recess’ and ‘Sleepover’ (60 seconds and 30 seconds long, respectively). New installments in the campaign that seven years ago poked fun at gravity-defying Flock of Seagulls haircuts were deemed Bowl-worthy due to their ongoing humorous appeal to the 35- to 40-year-old target.

‘It doesn’t seem to be wearing out,’ says Ian MacKellar, executive creative director at BBDO Toronto, creators of the campaign. ‘Normal people – as in people not in advertising, like my neighbours – say ‘hey, when’s the next one coming on?”’

In Canada, football isn’t as popular as it is in the US, where last year 91 million people tuned in. But it is still an important advertising opportunity given the premiere audience draw, adds MacKellar.

‘Global meltdown aside, I think humour has always been a cornerstone of this campaign. And in times like these…I think a little laughter might not be a bad thing,’ says MacKellar.

Other sponsors who are confirmed for CTV include Workopolis, Chartered Accountants, Cara, RBC, Government of Canada, and Subway.