The Super Bowl is the biggest televised event, giving advertisers a chance to reach a massive audience with “tentpole” campaigns that often set the tone for the entire year. The big game is currently scheduled for Feb. 7, though the coronavirus pandemic has made the outlook for the National Football League’s season more uncertain.
ViacomCBS, whose CBS network is carrying the Super Bowl on linear TV and digital channels, is bracing for the possibility that the game won’t have fans in attendance as part of the effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus . Other sports leagues like Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association have resumed play without fans, while still broadcasting games on TV.
“I’m hoping the Super Bowl will not be fanless,” Jo Ann Ross, president and chief advertising revenue officer at ViacomCBS domestic advertising sales, said in this episode of the Beet TV/VAB “TV Reset” forum. “However, if it is, it’s still the biggest event. ViacomCBS across the company is rallying together to ‘eventize’ it — to get all our brands involved.”
Speaking to Bill Koenigsberg, the president, CEO and founder of media services agency Horizon Media, Ross said ViacomCBS is in talks with advertisers about the Super Bowl, including incumbents from last year’s big game that may be seeking to protect coveted placements. Those conversations are happening as advertisers consider the public mood amid the stresses of the health crisis and its effect on the economy.
“We are in conversations with a lot of clients about positions,” Ross said, adding that marketers are asking questions like, “What will the creative look like? What will the tonality be? Is it going to be a message of hope? Is it going to be selling product? Is it going to be addressing everything that’s going on in the country?”
Ross spoke to Koenigsberg on June 4, and since then, the NFL has said that it wants fans to attend the Super Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, while also acknowledging those plans could change, CBS Sports reported. The season opener on Sept. 10 won’t have fans, but the league has almost another six months to prepare for the championship game.
CBS is selling 30-second commercial spots in the Super Bowl for $5.5 million, while asking for another $200,000 to appear in the game’s online stream, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with those talks. Last year’s game on a rival network drew 102 million viewers through linear and digital channels, according to Nielsen data cited by Reuters.
Ross said ViacomCBS doesn’t negotiate through media reports about the cost to advertise in the Super Bowl, and is focused on preparing for the big game.
“Our tagline is, ‘Simply Stronger,’ because we want to simplify the process for agencies and clients,” Ross said, adding that the company wants to avoid over-complicating media buys on digital, cable or network.
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