Tide to Make Its Super Bowl Debut

Tide to Make Its Super Bowl Debut


THEY say time and tide wait for no man, but Tide has waited a long time to be advertised on the Super Bowl. Soon, Tide, the biggest detergent brand in America — sold by the biggest advertiser in America — will appear for the first time on the biggest day for advertising in America.

Procter & Gamble, the maker of Tide, has bought time during the Fox Broadcasting coverage of Super Bowl XLII on Feb. 3 for a commercial for the Tide to Go instant stain remover. The 30-second spot, by Saatchi & Saatchi in New York, part of the Publicis Groupe, is scheduled to appear in the game’s second quarter.

Procter joins two dozen or so marketers, both well known and would-be, that are paying Fox a record or near-record amount to run commercials in the game. The average cost of each 30 seconds of commercial time is estimated at $2.7 million, compared with $2.6 million for spots in Super Bowl XLI in February 2007.

Among the other advertisers are Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, FedEx, General Motors, PepsiCo, Toyota Motor and several movie studios.

Fox Broadcasting, part of the News Corporation, has sold all but one of the 63 30-second commercials that it plans to run in the game, a spokesman for Fox Sports, Lou D’Ermilio, said Thursday.

Demand for commercial time in Super Bowl XLII was strong even before the writers’ strike upended the prime-time schedules of the major networks and cast into doubt the fate of popular fare like “C.S.I.,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and the broadcast of the Academy Awards ceremony. As early as the end of October, Fox had only about seven of the 30-second spots in the Super Bowl left to sell. Usually at that time of year, there are two or three times that many slots still unsold.

One reason for that appeal is robust demand for commercial time in all sports programming, Mr. D’Ermilio said, on Fox or not. High demand during the Major League Baseball season last year continued through the spate of college football bowl games that ended Monday with the Bowl Championship Series title game.

Another reason for the ardor for Super Bowl spots is the magnitude of recent changes in the media marketplace. The Super Bowl is one of the few so-called big events that remain available to marketers eager to reach tens of millions of consumers at the same time; more than 90 million Americans typically watch each game.

“It’s the last bastion of mass marketing, with incredible reach,” said Jim Nail, chief strategy and marketing officer at Cymfony, a research company that is part of the TNS Media Intelligence unit of Taylor Nelson Sofres.

“If you’ve got to sell a lot of beer or chips, or you have something big to announce, it’s a great venue,” he added, despite steep costs that otherwise may be “really hard to justify.”

Viewers also respond to Super Bowl spots much differently than to commercials in most other TV shows.

Ever since a spectacular Apple commercial called “1984” turned up during the 1984 Super Bowl, consumers have come to expect superior commercials, stuffed with celebrities, special effects, surprise endings, hit music, anthropomorphic animals and other enticements to pay attention.

As a result, rather than change the channel or leave the room for a beer when the selling starts, the audience sticks around, talks about the spots the next day and even goes to Web sites like AOL and YouTube to watch them again.

At every Super Bowl party, there is usually someone “who says, ‘Shhhhhhh! Here comes this cool commercial,’ ” Mr. Nail said.

It is that buzz factor Procter is hoping to capitalize on.

“The Super Bowl is the one time you watch a show and don’t want to miss the commercial breaks,” said Suzanne Watson, Tide brand manager for North America at Procter in Cincinnati.

“Given the wide appeal for Tide to Go and the broad audience for the Super Bowl,” she added, “it’s a perfect fit.”

Tide to Go, which was introduced in 2005, is particularly fitting for a Super Bowl berth, Ms. Watson said, because of its properties as a quick stain remover.

“There are thousands of parties that night,” making Super Bowl Sunday “the biggest stain-based occasion of the year,” she added. “With Tide to Go right there, you don’t have to get up to clean your shirt or pants.”

One reason this year’s Super Bowl has become more desirable for Procter than Super Bowl X or even XX is the growing number of women who tune in the game. In some years, more women have watched the Super Bowl than the Oscars, a show with such potent female appeal that it has been nicknamed on Madison Avenue “the Super Bowl for women.”

Another reason is that Procter has started seeking Tide buyers beyond the traditional market of women, adding pitches aimed at men and students of both sexes.

The Tide to Go commercial will be supported by a wide-ranging marketing campaign, Ms. Watson said, that will include the Internet, public relations and promotions.

Such nontraditional elements “can really connect with consumers outside the laundry room,” she added, “and in their daily lives.”

Ms. Watson declined to discuss details of the campaign or the commercial because, she said, it was too soon.

The Tide to Go commercial is only Procter’s third in the Super Bowl. The first, for Charmin bathroom tissue, ran in 2004. The second, in 2006, was for Gillette, which Procter had acquired months before.

The initial Procter foray into the Super Bowl — in a commercial created by another Publicis agency in New York, Publicis Worldwide — drew mostly negative reviews. It was one of only two spots that Bob Garfield, the ad critic for the trade publication Advertising Age, slighted with 1.5 stars; he gave lower scores to just two spots and higher scores to 31.

“We haven’t been focused on how this TV spot will measure relative to others,” Ms. Watson said. “We just want to do the best in communicating with our consumers.”

Translation from marketing-speak: The pressure is on.

via nytimes.com