Fox Contest Offers 30-Second Super Bowl Pregame Ad as a Prize

From time to time, Super Bowl advertisers have sponsored contests, among them brands like Chevrolet and Doritos. Now, for what may be the first time, the network broadcasting the Super Bowl is planning an ad contest of its own.

The contest is scheduled to be announced Friday by the Fox Sports Media Group, which is part of 21st Century Fox; Fox Broadcasting will present Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2, 2014. The tentative name for the contest is the Social Bowl, although there is already a Web site by that name that tracks the effectiveness of Super Bowl advertising in building value for brands.

The contest is centered on an offer to give away a commercial on Super Bowl Sunday — not during the game, which is already about 95 percent sold, with only a “handful” of 30-second spots in the commercial inventory still available, Fox Sports Media Group executives say. Rather, the prize is a 30-second commercial to be broadcast at around 5 p.m. Eastern Time during the pregame show, valued at about $850,000. (The price tag on a 30-second commercial during the game is being estimated at $4 million.)

Marketers will be able to participate in the contest by submitting proposed commercials to the Fox Sports Media Group and paying an entry fee of $150,000. Football fans, ad fans and anyone with access to social media will then vote on which potential spot they believe is Super Bowl Sunday-worthy after watching the entries on online platforms like the Fox Sports Web site or YouTube.

The Fox Sports Media Group plans to promote the voting with an extensive campaign in social media outlets that is scheduled to begin on the first weekend in January. “We’ll be putting a ton of media behind it,” said Neil Mulcahy, executive vice president for sales at the Fox Sports Media Group, a ton being “a few million dollars.”

A winner of the contest will be named close to or on game day; the executives have not decided yet on a date.

“What this is, is a social experiment,” Mr. Mulcahy said, spurred by the fact that in the last few years the hoopla surrounding who is buying ads on Super Bowl Sunday has begun to build earlier and earlier.

“It’s definitely a trend we’ve noticed,” he said, and it is being fed by the ability of advertisers to use social media like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs to provide previews of their Super Bowl Sunday ads before Super Bowl Sunday.

Pete Vlastelica, senior vice president for digital at the Fox Sports Media Group, estimated that for Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3, 2013, “thanks to the Internet, something like 40 percent of the in-game advertisers were teasing, leaking or running their whole spots” ahead of the game.

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