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For advertisers, Sunday is the Super Bowl too

Rochester Business Journal
February 1, 2013

Some of the world's biggest companies are paying nearly $4 million for 30-second spots during this Sunday's Super Bowl XLVII, with demand for local ads following suit.
Last year's Super Bowl set a ratings record for highest average viewership in U.S. television history with more than 111 million tuning in. National 30-second spots went for around $3.5 million in 2012, with the game airing on NBC. Rochester's NBC affiliate, WHEC-TV 10, said local 30-second spots cost $15,000 to $20,000 last year.
This year's game will air on CBS. Louis Gattozzi, vice president and general manager for local affiliate WROC-TV 8, declined to give specific prices for this year's local spots but said local ad space was nearly sold out by midweek.
Gattozzi said the vast majority of this year's local advertisers are companies that advertise with WROC-TV year-round, including Mark's Pizzeria Inc., which consistently advertises during the Super Bowl each year.
"Thirty seconds of time during the Super Bowl is one of the most valued pieces of real estate in advertising," Gattozzi said. "Both national and local advertisers are willing to pay high rates."
The Super Bowl may be the only telecast each year when more people tune in for the commercials. Harris Interactive Inc., which has its headquarters here, recently conducted a study showing 56 percent of U.S. adults who plan to watch Super Bowl XLVII will tune in as much or more for the commercials than for the game.
Gattozzi said this year's game, featuring the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers, could draw more viewers than last year, given its interesting story lines.
"You've got the Baltimore Ravens star Ray Lewis, who is playing in his final game before retiring," said Gattozzi. "You've also got the two (Harbaugh) brothers, who are head coaches, going against each other. There are always these side stories that weave into the general interest that the game creates. This year there's a lot there."
William Murtha, president and CEO of Roberts Communications Inc., said companies are taking a huge risk, given the exposure and the price of ads.
"It's a big-time challenge," Murtha said. "That's one of the reasons why you see a lot of commercials focus on things that have a heightened purpose. You will also see a lot of first-timers or newcomers that have a big reason for doing it, like launching a new product."
Lauren Dixon, CEO of Dixon Schwabl Inc., said that while local advertisers will pay far less for their 30-second spots, they still will have a lot invested.
A few years ago, Frontier Communications Corp. hired Dixon Schwabl to produce a Super Bowl spot for the telecommunications company just a few days before the big game. Dixon said the company bought 30-second local timeslots in selected markets around the country as a team of 10 staffers worked over a 48-hour period to create the ad.
"It was a memorable ad, and it had to be," she said. "A price of 15 to 20 grand in a market like Rochester is a lot of money and the production value still has to be very high, because you're going up against the biggest and the best companies in the world."
Dixon said the determining factor as to whether a Super Bowl ad is a success lies in a local or national company's ability to maximize the investment.
"It comes down to how you get viewers to go to your website or to take an immediate action so you can generate a big enough return," Dixon said.
In recent years, many national companies have released their ads prior to the game to gain even more viewers than the 100 million that watch the telecast.
In 2012, the video-sharing website YouTube reported that 60 percent of advertisers released their ads or teasers for their ads online in the days before the Super Bowl. Brands such as, Taco Bell and Doritos have done the same this year.
Several national brands have tied social media into their Super Bowl ads. For example, car manufacturer Audi AG is allowing fans to vote for the ending of its Super Bowl ad via social media, with the result to be aired during the game.
Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. recently poured more into its social media campaign by encouraging Twitter followers to suggest the name of the new Clydesdale horse for its Budweiser Super Bowl ad.
"The Super Bowl and its ads get bigger and bigger every year," Gattozzi said. "As an affiliate, we have a limited inventory, but to some extent it has gotten to the point where the ad space sells itself.
"The only thing that would make it bigger from a local standpoint is if the Buffalo Bills were to make it to the Super Bowl. Rates locally for a Super Bowl featuring the Bills would be incrementally higher and would consume the marketplace."

2/1/13 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

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