FedEx Corp. Buys Last Super Bowl Commercial on Fox

By Rick Westhead

New York (Bloomberg) — News Corp.’s Fox network sold its final 30-second commercial spot for Sunday’s Super Bowl this afternoon, the network said.

Fox wouldn’t disclose who bought the ad, but FedEx Corp. spokesman Jess Bunn said the overnight delivery company was the buyer.

The network has been receiving between $1.9 million and $2 million for each of its 58 30-second ads, down from the $2.1 million average price that Viacom Inc.’s CBS got a year ago, said Fox spokesman Lou D’Ermilio.

CBS sold out its Super Bowl ads last year in early January, raising about $200 million.

Fox has been selling its spots in one of the worst advertising markets since World War II. Advertising budgets for many major companies have been severely cut since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, which weakened an economy that was already in a slump.

The network also was competing against General Electric Co.’s NBC, which begins airing the Winter Olympics from Salt Lake City on Feb. 8.

“Under the challenges of the economy and with the Olympics being in the same quarter, what they’ve been able to do is very respectable,” D’Ermilio said.

In a November interview, Fox President of Sales Jon Nesvig said the network expected to sell more than $200 million in ads for a 9 1/2-hour period on Super Bowl Sunday. That would include about $150 million at its flagship TV network and $50 million at 22 local stations throughout the U.S.

Long-time Super Bowl advertisers such as Anheuser-Busch Cos., which is buying a game-high 10 advertising spots, account for most of the network’s sales. Other advertisers include PepsiCo Inc., Levi Strauss & Co. and Tricon Global Restaurants Inc.’s Pizza Hut unit.

Two years ago, ABC sold Super Bowl ads to about 17 Internet companies and commanded prices as high as $3 million for a 30- second spot. Fox has sold ads to only four dot-com companies for this year’s game — Ltd.; E*Trade Group Inc.;, a unit of TMP Worldwide Inc.; and Yahoo! Inc.