Super Bowl ad rates may be too high this time around


With ad rates for the Super Bowl running as high as $3 million for a 30-second spot, some marketers are wondering whether during these tough economic times they can afford the big game, reports The Wall Street Journal.

FedEx, a loyal Super Bowl advertiser, still hasn’t decided if it will buy in. FedEx is concerned that shelling out big bucks — at a time when it’s "asking employees to do more with less" — will look "wrong," a person close to the company told the paper. "Companies have to be mindful that jumping into the game can open them up to criticism."

The package-delivery giant is holding out to see if it can get a bargain. FedEx’s hesitation is raising eyebrows on Madison Avenue because it has advertised in 12 of the past NFL championship games.

Advertisers taking a pass on Super Bowl XLIII altogether include beleaguered General Motors, which has been in 16 games, and Garmin Ltd., the maker of GPS devices, which had advertised in the past two games. A company spokesman for Garmin told WSJ its decision to sit out was "unrelated to the economy."

Jumping into high-priced media deals can raise lots of image questions, say ad execs.

"With this much money on the line it can be a negative reflection on a company, especially if they are cutting back staff or getting a government bailout," Steve Lanzano, MPG COO told the paper.

NBC had sold most of its Super Bowl ad inventory by early September, prior to the meltdown on Wall Street. NBC is in better shape than Fox was during the past recession. In 2002, Fox, had about 10% of its ad time unsold just two weeks before the game.

Advertisers on next year’s broadcast include Anheuser-Busch,, Hyundai Motor, PepsiCo, Viacom’s Paramount Pictures, and Coca-Cola.

The peacock network has also lured some new marketers to the Feb. 1 game in Tampa, including Pedigree, the dog-food brand owned by Mars. Even, the online job site owned by Monster Worldwide, is currently in talks to jump back into the game after sitting out the past few years, according to people familiar with the matter.

"As of now, we have not committed to the Super Bowl," a spokesman for Monster told WSJ.