Why Papa John's, Intel, others said no to Super Bowl ads

Read More at: USA Today

Much has been written about how this year’s Super Bowl has attracted advertisers almost as strongly as Justin Bieber magnetizes teeny-boppers.

Way back in October, Fox announced that all ad slots for the game were sold out — among the earliest in Super Bowl history. But one thing about the Big Game’s ad sales has received scant attention: Some formidable advertisers have just said no.

At least seven advertisers from 2010’s game aren’t returning: Papa John’s, Intel, Monster, Dr Pepper, Denny’s, Universal Orlando and KGB.

“A lot of advertisers got in last year with deals,” says John Shelton, president of Strata Marketing, which works with top media buyers and ad agencies. While few got big price breaks from CBS in 2010, some got extra spots on other shows, he says. Such deals are mostly gone this year, he says.

Advertisers move in and out of the Super Bowl every year. Even veteran Pepsi opted to sit out last year, though it’s back for 2011. What’s different this year is that coming out of the recession, Super Bowl ad space is hotter than hot. Some who wanted in have been shut out, even though each 30-second slot fetches up to $3 million this year.

Each of 2010’s advertisers that turned thumbs down this year has a different reason. Among the most interesting is Papa John’s, which Monday will announce plans to give a free large pizza to every American — if the Super Bowl goes into its first-ever overtime. The catch: You must sign up for its online loyalty program before game day (Feb. 6).

“We’d rather give away millions in free pizzas than spend millions on a spot,” says Andrew Varga, Papa John’s marketing chief.