snaps up a slot for Super Bowl XLIII ad

By Theresa Howard, USA TODAY

NEW YORK — NBC gets the gold. As NBC tries to close out its sale of ad time for Sunday’s Super Bowl — it still has two 30-second slots — it sold a slot Wednesday to Cash4Gold, the late-night cable TV advertiser that pitches people to send in jewelry and other gold items for cash.
It also sold three more ad slots to PepsiCo, (PEP) now the biggest advertiser in the game with 5.5 minutes for its beverages and chips. It passed traditional top buyer Anheuser-Busch, (INBVF) which has 4.5 minutes.

The Cash4Gold ad puts a direct-response advertiser on stage with a lineup of top-tier marketers and may not have been NBC’s first choice to fill one of the game’s 67 ad slots. But after selling 85% of Super Bowl ad time by September, NBC has struggled to unload the rest as the economy, ad spending and consumer confidence spiraled down.

“Given the state of the economy, we’re thrilled with the position we’re in,” NBC spokesman Brian Walker says.

The sour economy has been sweet for the Florida gold-melting service, billed as an alternative to a pawn shop. Cash4Gold transactions more than doubled to about 500,000 in 2008 vs. 2007. How it works: Consumers send in gold items and get paid based on weight and quality within two weeks.

“With everything going on … Cash4Gold is a wonderful outlet for people,” CEO Jeff Aronson says. “People have been using their home to subsidize their lifestyle. Now they are taking things from inside the home to subsidize their lifestyle.”

Aronson and partner Howard Mofshin approached NBC about a month ago to buy an ad, which it hired award-winning director and Super Bowl veteran Bryan Buckley to direct. Buckley, who directed’s first Super Bowl ad, also has a Bud Light ad with Conan O’Brien and an H&R Block ad in the game this year.

“We didn’t skimp on a director or the creative,” Aronson says. “We went all out to create something special for Super Bowl.”

In the Cash4Gold ad, Ed McMahon and MC Hammer, two celebrities who’ve had very public real-life financial reversals, send in items that get more outrageous as the ad goes on.

“Jeff is the kind of guy who gets it,” says Mary Webb, group creative director at Arnold Worldwide, which worked with Cash4Gold’s agency Euro RSCG Edge to make the ad. “There’s no other brand that would be so self-effacing that they would be able to make fun of their own genre.”