Prices for last-minute Super Bowl ads drop

From staff and wire reports

The slowing economy is enabling some advertisers to crash Super Bowl XXXV at lower prices. IBM, Verizon Wireless, Dr Pepper, Johnson & Johnson and Invesco have bought ads at the last minute, leaving CBS with only one 30-second spot left out of 60 in-game slots. CBS had been commanding a record $2.3 million per 30-second commercial. An IBM spokesman said the company nabbed its spot at an “attractive price.”

CBS spokesman Dana McClintock says more than two dozen companies have purchased Super Bowl ads with a single 30-second commercial out of about 60 originally available in the game being held in reserve for a last-minute buyer.

Last year, ABC was reported to have charged on average $2.2 million for a Super Bowl spot, which set the previous mark for the most costly commercials on TV.

The New York Giants are playing the Baltimore Ravens for the title this year, and the game is expected to be seen by upward of 120 million people.

Some media buyers have suggested privately that CBS was having trouble even matching what ABC got a year ago, citing a weaker ad market and far fewer free-spending dot-com advertisers.

There were 17 Internet companies selling everything from pet supplies and wedding invitations to financial and technological advice on last year’s game but only three are back – the job sites and and the online broker ETrade Group.

Super Bowl stalwarts are back like the brewer Anheuser-Busch, soft drink marketer Pepsi-Cola, candymaker M&M/Mars, the courier FedEx and credit card provider Visa International.

Volkswagen of America is the lone car advertiser in the game. Soda maker Dr Pepper bought an ad. Levi Strauss & Co. is on the game for the first time. MasterCard International Inc. is back after skipping last year’s game. Technology services provider EDS returns with a sequel to its “Cat Herder” commercial of a year ago. Food and tobacco company Philip Morris is also back.

CBS sales executives said they made a concerted effort this year to sell ads in packages that included commercials in the pre- and post-game shows, and expect to reap as much as $150 million from network ads during the Super Bowl programs that could stretch over more than 10 hours.