By Brian Steinberg
General Motors may have driven away from next year’s Super Bowl broadcast, but other advertisers aren’t following suit.
CBS has sold more than 50% of its ad inventory for its 2013 broadcast of Super Bowl XLVII and could reach sell-out levels approaching 80% in the next few weeks, according to the network’s head of sports ad sales.
"The marketplace continues to be pretty active," said John Bogusz, exec VP for sports sales and marketing at CBS, in an interview. "We are over 50% sold in the game, and we have a number of active negotiations with a number of people with a number of units that will get us closer to 80% sold," he added, possibly in "a week or two." He confirmed recent remarks made by CBS Corp. CFO Joseph Ianniello at an investor conference.
The pace of sales is being pushed by automotive marketers, Mr. Bogusz said. The Super Bowl ad roster has become a veritable parking lot of auto promotion over the last three years, with Hyundai, Audi and others attempting to make big sales statements.
CBS’s effort does not appear to have been affected by a recent and surprising disclosure by General Motors that it would not advertise in the 2013 event.
GM has been a steady presence in the TV classic over the years, though it also declined to appear in CBS’s 2010 broadcast, citing economic duress sparked by the recent recession. Earlier this month, GM cited the cost of advertising in the next game — said by ad buyers to total between $3.7 million and $3.8 million per thirty-second spot for marketers purchasing multiple ads — as a reason to place its ad dollars elsewhere.
The auto category "is extremely healthy and it has been active," Mr. Bogusz said.
Movie studios and beverage marketers are also in the mix, he added. "We do have movies in the game and we are still talking to movies," he said. "We are in active negotiations with beverages."
Recent Super Bowl ratings have been astronomical, shattering viewing records and making the event the most-watched TV broadcast each year for the past three games, spurring marketers to get on board early and networks to seek higher prices each year.
Last year, NBC was able to sell between 65% and 75% of its Super Bowl inventory by early June as it wrapped upfront negotiations. CBS was selling time for the 2013 Super Bowl before NBC’s 2012 broadcast started, just as NBC began its ad-sales discussions well before Fox’s 2011 broadcast.
Of course, selling the first three-quarters of Super Bowl ad spots is usually easy. It’s the last 25% that’s hard.
Anheuser-Busch InBev and PepsiCo buy multiple spots each year, combining for more than seven minutes’ worth of ad time in the most recent game. What’s more, TV networks typically do business with advertisers from the last game before moving on to new accounts. Mr. Bogusz said "the majority" of business already done was with incumbent advertisers who have had a presence in previous Super Bowl broadcasts.