Big marketers line up again for Super Bowl

Dot-coms drop out as beverage, credit card firms step up

By Michael McCarthy, USA TODAY

Traditional advertisers such as Philip Morris, Levi Strauss and MasterCard are suiting up for CBS’ broadcast of Super Bowl XXXV from Tampa on Jan. 28.

The return of the big marketers comes after last January’s dot-com spectacle, when Web and tech companies accounted for 18 of the 36 advertisers on the ABC broadcast.

It’s good news for CBS. The network is “75% sold out” of ad time, says Joe Abruzzese, CBS president of ad sales.

CBS is averaging around $2.4 million per 30-second slot. That’s ahead of ABC’s record $2.2 million rate that reaped it an estimated $130 million in Super Bowl ad dollars. “We expect to make 15% more revenue than ABC — with fewer dot-coms,” Abruzzese says.

“Traditional advertisers are recognizing the Super Bowl as the ultimate platform,” says Anthony Taranto, CBS vice president of sports sales. He predicts the event will be seen by 135 million viewers.

CBS is selling “packages” of in-game slots with pre- and post-game slots, meaning any marketer wanting a single in-game commercial would still have to cough up more than $3 million.

The biggies also are in force among advertisers for the six pre-game hours: Sony PlayStation, Radio Shack, Zale, Subway, Frito-Lay and Charles Schwab. General Motors has the post-game.

Dot-com advertisers, meanwhile, are expected to number just four or five. is buying in for a third year. “The Super Bowl is a way to instantly reach 130 million viewers in 30 seconds,” CEO Jeff Taylor says. “It’s really the Ad Bowl. It’s one of the few venues where people watch commercials.”

E-Trade is likely to return, too. “We’re in active discussions with CBS,” says chief marketing officer Mike Sievert.

A scouting report on some large marketers you’ll see on Super Sunday:

Philip Morris. The food, beverage and tobacco giant has at least one in-game spot, spokesman Brendan McCormick confirms. It likely will be a corporate ad, since tobacco is verboten, and Miller Brewing is out because rival Anheuser-Busch has beer “exclusivity.”

Levi’s. The jeans company has bought at least one in-game spot. “We’re being very aggressive with our advertising and marketing efforts,” Levi’s spokesman Danny Kraus says.

Anheuser-Busch. It will be the game’s top advertiser with eight 30-second spots. “The Super Bowl is one of the foundations of our marketing strategy,” says Tony Ponturo, A-B’s vice president of corporate media and sports marketing.

MasterCard. The card company returns to challenge perennial advertiser Visa after skipping last year, according to spokesman Chris Monteiro.

Pepsi. The cola giant is back for a 16th year, says spokesman Dave DeCecco, and will buy up to 2 minutes.

Other large advertisers include Mars, FedEx and EDS. Even Coca-Cola might come back to restart the Cola Wars. “We’re evaluating our options,” Coke spokesman Scott Williamson says.

CBS, meanwhile, will use the game to hype the premiere of Survivor: The Australian Outback after the game.