Friday, January 29, 2010

Super Bowl 2010 - ad controversy?

We're only a week away and the game between the Colts and the Saints isn't the only battle attracting attention. What normally is a story about how much select brands are paying to show their commercial(s) on Super Bowl Sunday, and who is advertising what, is impacted this year with two other mini-dramas.


The automotive company has a 60-second spot, slated to air in the game, promoting its Dodge Charger. The controversy is that Chrysler is one of the companies recently plucked from bankruptcy due to government funding, thus raising the question on whether they should be spending upwards of $5 million (estimated) for this air time.

The flip side to the argument, of course, is that there is no bigger stage for a brand to begin a recovery--that the Super Bowl is the perfect launching point for such a strategy and effort.

Focus on the Family

CBS has accepted an ad from Focus on the Family, a Christian group who will air a spot expected to feature former University of Florida star Tim Tebow. Apparently, Tebow will explain the circumstances of his mother's pregnancy. After becoming ill during a mission to the Philippines, Tebow's mother ignored a doctor's recommendation to abort and ultimately gave birth to Tim, a winner of the Heisman Trophy and leader of a team which won two national championships. And, Tebow has been a model citizen--excelling not only on the field but off as well through his public service activities in both the U.S. and internationally.

Pro-choice advocates have criticized the anti-abortion spot and are strongly suggesting that it's not appropriate for airing during the Super Bowl, the largest TV event each year in the U.S.

In 2004, CBS rejected an ad by the United Church of Christ. The commercial's focus was to welcome gays to the church's community and places of worship. At the time, CBS did not accept advocacy ads but has since changed its stance and has publicly stated that, with its new policy, that former church ad would be accepted today. Cynics say it's a sign of the economic times--that CBS needs the revenue and thus has become less restrictive in what advertising it accepts.

The 2010 Super Bowl marks the first time, in many years, that advertising costs for a 30-second commercial have decreased versus the prior season. Commercials airing in the game this year will cost $2.5-$2.8 million, down from last year's $3 million.

A final lineup of advertisers has not been announced but many of the usual suspects are in place--Anheuser Busch InBev, Snickers (back after its controversial ad of two years ago which was bashed by gay rights groups), Frito-Lay's Doritos, Coke, Denny's (hoping to repeat its successful re-launch of the Grand Slam Breakfast in last year's game), other automakers and many of the movie studios, who will tout upcoming new releases.

Stay tuned here for more Super Bowl ad coverage through next week and weekend.

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