According to Bloomberg, Fox has been seeking around $5 million for 30 seconds of airtime, a new record. On Friday, the broadcaster said it still had more commercials left than is normal the week before the game. It’s customary for networks to hold two or three spots to get top dollar for them, but Fox held more in hopes of cashing in on a marquee match-up. The New England Patriots are one of the league’s most popular teams, but they’ll face the Atlanta Falcons on Feb. 5 instead of the more widely followed Dallas Cowboys or Green Bay Packers, who were vanquished in the playoffs.
“We held a couple more than we thought in case it was Dallas or the Packers,” said Bruce Lefkowitz, who oversees Super Bowl advertising sales for Fox. The market was also a bit slower than usual, Lefkowitz said, because some creative agencies are hesitant to face the pressure to deliver a successful ad in the era of social media scrutiny and commercial rankings.
The cost of a Super Bowl ad has more than quadrupled since Fox aired its first Super Bowl in 1997. This year’s $5 million price didn’t deter some advertisers, including Mars Inc., owner of Skittles and Snickers, and several automakers, from buying spots the first chance they got. Yet that price became an impediment after the upfront sales.
Super Bowl ad prices are negotiable, and brands pay different amounts based on the commercial time they buy and when the ads appear in the game.
The disappearance of a few regular advertisers didn’t help Fox this year. Doritos, a stalwart of the annual advertising derby, opted not to buy a spot this year, as did Toyota Motor Corp., Visa Inc., Yum Brands Inc.’s Taco Bell and Nestle SA’s Butterfinger. Those defections forced the TV network to find new buyers.