Super Bowl sales ‘best ever,’ CTV’s Brace says

Network exec Rick Brace says advertising and sponsorship sales have topped pre-recession levels. PepsiCo Canada, Labatt, and Hyundai are back as Bowl broadcast sponsors.

CTV has scored a touchdown, and the extra point, with its Super Bowl XLV ad inventory, which climbed above pre-recession prices.

‘This is the best year we’ve ever had,’ Rick Brace, president, revenue and business planning, CTV, tells MiC.

‘We’ve been able to increase the rates as a result of the economic turnaround, and the interesting thing for us is that it’s not across the board, it’s with things like specials,’ he adds. ‘We’re still climbing out of the recession, for sure, but when it comes to big-ticket items like the Super Bowl, the Junos, the Oscars, we’re seeing improvement.’

While the format can change up until a day or two before the game, based on the feed from the US, Brace says CTV is virtually sold out, with perhaps an extra minute or two of the wild reel still open, in case there’s more inventory than expected. The game airs on CTV and RDS on Feb. 6 at 6 p.m ET.

Last year, the game had 6.297 million viewers, according to BBM. That made it the most-watched football broadcast in CTV’s history. Ratings for this year’s divisional playoffs were higher than last year’s, so there’s reason to believe this year’s game will match, if not surpass, last year’s ratings.

Labatt is the full-game sponsor, PepsiCo Canada has the half-time, Hyundai is sponsoring the first quarter, Nissan has the third and Chevrolet has the final quarter.

PepsiCo Canada, which has been a long-time Super Bowl advertiser, is taking advantage of the huge audience by promoting four of its brands through the game and sponsoring the half-time show with the Pepsi Max brand, says Julie Raheja-Perera, director of marketing, PepsiCo Canada.

‘PepsiCo’s always viewed the Super Bowl as a unique opportunity to reach millions of consumers at a time when they’re enjoying themselves and incorporating snacks and beverages into their game celebrations,’ she says. ‘It’s really all about gathering together with family and friends to enjoy the experience of the Super Bowl, and PepsiCo products really enhance that enjoyment.’

Pepsi Max will have two five-second billboards, as well as a 30-second spot with creative that was debuted during the IIHF World Junior Championship earlier this month.

Doritos will have a 60-second Canadian-made spot that will be preceded by social media and other online teasers three days before the game. The campaign, called ‘The End,’ actually only has 40 seconds of content, with the company asking viewers to write the last 20 seconds.

‘The basic premise is we’re launching two flavours and the consumer can decide which one is going to survive and which one will get booted out,’ says Raheja-Perera. ‘The winner [of the contest] gets $25,000 and 1% of future sales. It’s really about breaking down barriers between the brand and the consumer to drive engagement, so it’s a pretty exciting campaign for Canadian viewers.’

There will be two 30-second G2 ads, also conceived and produced in Canada, that celebrate the milestones of amateur athletes. The campaign is an evolution of the brand’s ‘No Small Victories’ campaign, which was launched during last year’s Super Bowl broadcast. Like the Doritos ads, there will be an online element to the G2 commercials.

The US-created Lipton Brisk ad uses claymation and features a clay version of a famous celebrity, the identity of whom is being kept a secret until it airs.

OMD is the MAOR for PepsiCo Canada, and the creative for the Canadian ads came from the Toronto offices of BBDO, for the Doritos campaign, and TBWA, for the G2 campaign.

Labatt is the game sponsor for Super Bowl XLV, an extension of its sponsorship of the NFL in Canada for the last 20 years or so, according to Ben Seaton, brand manager, Labatt.

‘For us, the Super Bowl serves as an impactful platform to connect with our football fans across Canada, and we’re excited to play a big role in one of the biggest games in all of sports,’ he says.

The company is using the opportunity to launch two new Budweiser commercials. The creative, produced by Budweiser in-house for the brand’s global markets, has run in other countries, says Seaton, but it has been re-cut for Canadian audiences by Grip Limited in Toronto. UM’s Toronto office handled the media plan and buy, except in Quebec, where it was handled by Montreal-based Marketel.

Hyundai is sponsoring the first quarter of the game and using its ad space to kick off the campaign for the new Elantra model.

‘Roughly one in two car buyers in this country chooses a compact vehicle, so we needed a venue to reach such a large audience. The Super Bowl delivers that,’ says John Vernile, VP, marketing, Hyundai Auto Canada. ‘But the Super Bowl is more than just a sporting event. It’s a social event.

Consumers also watch the Super Bowl for the unique TV commercials. They want to be entertained as much by the ads as the game, and we think we have some creative commercials that will do that.’

The spots on Sunday are part of a larger campaign that will cover national TV, print, radio and online. Creative was handled by Hyundai’s AOR Innocean Worldwide, and Initiative worked on the plan and ZenithOptimedia on the buy.

CORRECTION: The article originally stated CTV had 6.017 million viewers for last year’s Super Bowl. That number was based on preliminary overnight data and not the final audience number. Media in Canada regrets the error.