Tremendous Bowl Advert Talks Warmth Up, With Large Choices Looming for Entrepreneurs

As the NFL regular season nears its halfway point, the clock is ticking for marketers to decide whether they want to be a part of Super Bowl LV, which is scheduled to air Feb. 7 on CBS.

While talks are heating up, and marketers have more clarity about the game—which will be held at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.—than they did prior to the NFL season, many are grappling with a variety of factors before they commit to an ad buy, including nailing down the right creative and weighing how a potential Covid-related postponement could affect their marketing plans.

As Adweek reported last month, this year’s late-moving upfront and NFL markets slowed Super Bowl talks, which aren’t proceeding at the same brisk pace as 2019, when Fox Sports sold out Super Bowl LIV 10 weeks early, the earliest finish in nine years.

But negotiations “accelerated” last month, Jo Ann Ross, president and chief advertising revenue officer of domestic advertising sales at ViacomCBS, told Adweek in September, and momentum has continued since then.

CBS also aired Super Bowl LIII in 2019, and its Super Bowl ad commitments are slightly behind where the network was two years ago due to the late-starting marketplace, according to sources close to ViacomCBS. At the same time, the company has sold significantly more regular season inventory than at this point last season, as dwindling supply elsewhere drives more brands to the NFL this fall.

The network has completely sold out of all the game’s A positions (the first sport that runs in an ad pod) in the Super Bowl. Last month, CBS said it had run out of A inventory in the first half only. But Super Bowl inventory is still available throughout the rest of the game.

CBS is continuing to sell ads for as much as $5.5 million per 30-second spot, which is slightly below last year’s $5.6 million rate, but the network’s deals also require marketers to pay an additional $300,000 per spot to be included in the digital livestream.

“To build a really big program around the Super Bowl is a bit of a scary (proposition) right now.”

The company, which is in discussions about several Super Bowl spots, sees November as a key month for firming up deals, as marketers will have to determine whether or not they want to commit to appearing in the game, which will look much different than a typical Super Bowl telecast.

“To build a really big program around the Super Bowl is a bit of a scary (proposition) right now,” said Jeff Gagne, svp of strategic investments, Havas Media.

“You want a pretty good runway to associate with the Super Bowl and to actually do it right. Advertisers want to put a lot more marketing muscle beyond just a 30-second spot to support that,” said Gagne. As a result, “it’s hard to put all those creative resources well in advance into an uncertain situation. There’s a lot of money, there’s a lot of time, there’s a lot of effort that goes into doing that right. So at some point, you either decide to go in, or pivot and put those resources elsewhere.”

While the halftime show remains a mystery, the NFL told Adweek in a statement that it is “exploring” having a Super Bowl with around 20% capacity at Raymond James Stadium—which has been the average capacity of the 19 stadiums that have hosted fans during the regular season. And the league believes that figure “could grow as we get closer to the game.”

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