No, not the lineup of players, silly. That takes weeks (which often seem like months) of playoffs to determine. But the ads, which are what people really watch the Super Bowl telecast to see. How else do you explain the fact that, unlike most sportscasts — especially football, whose viewership skews strongly male – the Super Bowl audience is an even split between men and women?
Unlike last year, when ad demand was so slow that CBS had to offer last-minute discounts and advertisers avoided the $3 million-per-30-second air time costs by buying regional and spot adjacencies, 2011 Super Bowl air time is so red-hot that 80% of the availabilities were booked by June, 2010, and the remaining 20% were sold out by October. Here’s a preliminary roster:
Rookies of the year – For years, Pizza Hut has advertised prominently in programs leading up to the Super Bowl, on the premise that it’s before the game when people decide on where to order pizza from. This year, the Martin Agency, based here in Richmond, is taking Pizza Hut into the game itself, with a corporate message. HomeAway, an outfit that sells home rentals for leisure travel as an alternative to hotels, will break a fourth-quarter commercial based on the idea of the “Department of Detourism.”
Comebacks – BMW North America is returning to the Super Bowl after a ten-year absence. And after two years out on the injured list, Government Motors will be putting millions of your tax dollars to work with an unannounced number of commercials, most of which are reported to be for the politically correct Chevy Volt.
Benched? Taco Bell, a sister company of Pizza Hut and a longtime staple of Super Bowl ad breaks, appears to be sitting out this February’s game.
First quarter– Audi will be running a 30-second spot in the first commercial break. The Pizza Hut commercial will run either during this quarter or the next.
Second quarter – Teleflora will air a :30. So will Pizza Hut if their spot didn’t already air during the first quarter.
Third quarter– Best Buy, Careerbuilder and Cars.com will all get into play.
Fourth quarter – Cars.com will air again. HomeAway will debut. Mercedes Benz North America will run a :60, probably presenting its four new models as the culmination of its 125-year history.
All quarters – Anheuser-Busch InBev has bought between three-and-a-half and five minutes of air time, which translates as seven to ten :30s, to run throughout. Bridgestone Tire bought two :30s and is sponsoring the halftime show. GoDaddy.com will be back with two more of its adolescent spots, plus one in the pre-game show. Coke will air two commercials. So will Volkswagen (but more retail-oriented than their Drivers Wanted campaign). Hyundai will run three — one more than last year — hopefully without Pomplamoose. Doritos and sister Pepsico product Pepsi Max will each run three crowdsourced commercials. Two for each product will have been chosen by online vote and one each by executive committee. See if you can spot the difference.
Wild Cards – Kia will run a full minute. Skechers will probably run a :30, placement and message unannounced. Mars is reportedly still deciding which of its candies to run spots for. E-Trade will be back, but its talking baby may not.
So print out this rundown and keep it near your tv set. You can’t tell the players without a scorecard.