Super Bowl ad blitz begins

Coca-Cola, Best Buy, and Oreo's new parent Mondelez are among the latest companies to buy spots for the big game.

By Jason Notte Oct 8, 2012 2:48PM

Ghislain & Marie David de Lossy, Cultura, Getty ImagesIt's a bit presumptuous to start thinking about your NFL team's place in Super Bowl XLVII, but advertisers are already claiming their spots for the big game.

We're less than halfway through the professional football season, and already Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD), PepsiCo (PEP), Audi, Hyundai/Kia, and have purchased Super Bowl air time on CBS (CBS). The game isn't until Feb. 3, but CBS is already reporting that ad space is 90% sold out after Coca-Cola (KO), Best Buy (BBY) and a few others got into the game last week.

If it seems like those buyers are showing blitz a bit too early, just consider the logistics for a second. Prices for a 30-second Super Bowl ad jumped from $2.2 million in 2002 to $3.5 million for a spot in the 2012 broadcast on NBC, according to Kantar Media.

That's just for the time. Advertising Age notes that sponsors tend to shell out $3.7 million to $3.8 million once they've hired a top ad firm like Wieden + Kennedy or negotiated a broader package that includes an in-game appearance. That's a fairly substantial part of even a large company's marketing budget, so it pays to take some time and get it right.

In some cases, it's about reasserting a company's connection to the game. A-B InBev, for example, has spent more than $240 million in the past decade trying to make Budweiser, Bud Light, Stella Artois and, last year, Bud Light Platinum the beer of choice at fans' Super Bowl parties. PepsiCo, meanwhile, spent $174 million during the same span to make sure there are plenty of Doritos and sodas for the kids at those same events.

Mercedes-Benz was almost obligated to make the Super Bowl ad buy it finalized last week, considering its name is on the Mercedes-Benz Superdome that's hosting the game in New Orleans next year.

For other brands, the Super Bowl offers a new beginning. Oreo cookies are returning to the Super Bowl in 2013 after being less of a big-game presence in recent years than the Manning brothers who anchored their racing league. While the sandwich cookie brand just made plans to finish its 100th anniversary with a Super Bowl bash, Oreo's Super Bowl ads also will be somewhat of a coming-out party for parent company Mondelez International – the snack and candy company that formed when Kraft Foods (KRFT) split like an Oreo.

Are the ads worth the big-ticket prices? You have to ask the more than 125 companies that have pumped more than $1.7 billion into Super Bowl advertising in the past 10 years. It's not cheap, but it's the only way to get a captive audience as large as the 111.3 million people who watched the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots in February or the 111 million viewers who tuned in to see the Green Bay Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on Fox in 2011.

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