Super Bowl XLIII: Fourth and Goal | Adweek Super Bowl XLIII: Fourth and Goal | Adweek
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Super Bowl XLIII: Fourth and Goal

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Per terms of a series of earlier deals with NBC, CBS and Fox, A-B enjoys category exclusivity through Super Bowl XLVI (2012). The company has had a lock on the alcohol category since 1989.

In keeping with A-B's traditional game plan, its spots will offer a mix of offbeat humor and equine iconography. As many as three spots will feature the Budweiser Clydesdales, according to A-B chief creative officer Bob Lachky. Produced by DDB, Chicago, the ads under consideration are designed to prop up the Budweiser and Bud Light flagships, although a spot for the malty offshoot Budweiser American Ale is also in the running for a late-game airing.

The increased emphasis on the big-hoofed mascots could have a palliative effect on Bud partisans anxious about the influence of the brand's new Belgian overlords. "The best thing we can do is assure people that the things they love about our brands will remain intact," Lachky explains. "The Clydesdales reinforce...our brand, tradition and heritage."

NBC has balanced some early defections (General Motors, FedEx, Garmin, SalesGenie.com) with first-time investors such as Mars Inc.'s Pedigree, Teleflora and Denny's. The restaurant chain will bow the first collaboration with its new creative agency, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, in a 30-second spot that Novenstern says will run in the third quarter of the game.

"They have some big news they want to get out there and the time was right to get the message out in one fell swoop," Novenstern adds. "[Denny's chief marketing officer] Mark Chmiel realizes the value of TV and the impact it has on their sales."

Novenstern did not put a dollar figure on the Denny's deal, although he emphasizes that his client did not shell out "anywhere near $3 million" for the :30. That a first-time Super Bowl client could trim a few bucks off the price tag suggests that NBC's position has softened a bit as the pre-game clock winds down.

Winter confirms the average price is now in "the high twos," which translates to $2.8 million or $2.9 million, or about 5 to 7 percent higher than Fox's Super Bowl XLII base rate of $2.7 million. While sales got off to a fast start last summer, September's global financial meltdown kicked the legs out from under the market. "We were 85 percent sold when we boarded the plane for Beijing," Winter recalls. "When we came back, the world had suddenly changed."

Sources say NBC is expected to clear half of its remaining spot load before using the final five avails to pay down some prime-time delivery shortfalls. Latecomers are likely to include a telecom player -- Sprint is said to be sniffing around for a deal; moreover, the operator already has an exclusive "in" via its NFL Mobile Live application -- while those who may be the beneficiary of audience deficiency units include Unilever and Procter & Gamble.

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