Selling The Super Bowl

January 29, 1994|By Bloomberg Business News

ATLANTA -- The scenario hasn't changed much from last year: the same two teams butting heads to claim pro football's top prize as the same TV network carries the big game. Only this time, prices have gone up.

NBC is charging $900,000 for a 30-second commercial during Super Bowl XXVIII in Atlanta, up from the $850,000 it was demanding last year. Just as fans clamored for tickets to see the Dallas Cowboys play the Buffalo Bills tomorrow, advertisers bought up the limited ad time weeks in advance.

Many fans are disappointed to see Dallas and Buffalo again this year, as they expect another drubbing of the Bills, who are 10-point underdogs. Many were hoping to see Joe Montana of the Kansas City Chiefs back in the big game, facing his old team, the San Francisco 49ers.

But for companies hawking their wares, it doesn't really matter who's playing, marketers say.

"No one wanted to see these two teams play," said Michael Koulermous, group creative director at New York ad agency McCann-Erickson, "but the whole world will still be watching."

About 130 million viewers, more than half the U.S. population, are expected to watch the Super Bowl. With 56 commercial spots during the game, it should generate in excess of $50 million in revenue for NBC. Even with the game, though, NBC is expected to lose about $90 million this year on its football contract.

The game's familiar cast of corporate characters are back. PepsiCo, Nike Inc., Reebok International Ltd., and McDonald's Corp. will be there. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. is revealing new traction features for its Aquatred tires. Anheuser-Busch Cos. will return with Bud Bowl VI, its annual contest between Budweiser and Bud Lite that is bordering on cult status.

One notable absentee is Coca-Cola Co. Instead of advertising during the Super Bowl, it is creating a TV show about it.

Through two cable networks, SportSouth and Prime Sports, Coke is presenting "Coca-Cola Big TV," four days of programming that lead right up to game time. Pepsi spent roughly $7 million on a high-profile campaign during last year's Super Bowl introducing Crystal Pepsi, whose sales have disappointed. Still, Pepsi is back in force, buying more than 6 minutes of commercial time.

The company will run spots for its primary Pepsi brand, including one produced by BBDO Worldwide. In it, super model Cindy Crawford turns into Rodney Dangerfield after being submerged in a Pepsi "Deprivation Tank" for a month by a wacky professor played by Michael Richards -- better known as Kramer on NBC's "Seinfeld."

Celebrity sports endorsers again will play a big role. The retired Michael Jordan leads the way, pushing sneakers for Nike and hamburgers for McDonald's.

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