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Super Bowl commercials stand tall despite economy

Every four years, there’s a storm of major advertising opportunities when the Winter Olympics fall nearly on top of the Super Bowl.

Combined with other keynote events like the Oscars and the Grammys, as well as ongoing top-flight audience attractions like “American Idol,” one might think that the rates the networks charge would start to suffer from all the different ways to reach large swaths of viewers.

But as Bob Horowitz, exec producer of annual CBS spesh “Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials,” points out, the major events don’t cannibalize each other — not even in a weak economy. And certainly not the Super Bowl.

“I really believe rates aren’t going down,” Horowitz said. “Maybe rates have gone down couple hundred thousand a spot. You can’t really tell, because the networks (package them) with other inventory.”

Horowitz notes that there are more ad spots for sale today than there were 10 years ago — get
ready to be in front of your TV set for a long time Feb. 7 — to take advantage of the Super Bowl’s unmatched popularity. Though other broadcast programming has suffered attrition, last year’s Super Bowl drew a record 98.7 million viewers, and Horowitz believes this year’s game will break that mark — largely, he says, because of the commercials.

“The importance of this game is to the average American TV viewer not really any more than last week’s (conference) championship game,” Horowitz says.

“People watching on February 7 are not watching just to watch the game between the Saints and Colts; they’re watching to watch commercials.
The audience makeup — which is what advertisers are going after — will be much closer to 50-50 (men-women) on the Super Bowl. The composition is exactly what advertisers are looking for.”

“Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials” highlights that element, but this year’s special (moved to a higher-profile 8 p.m. Wednesday timeslot, in reaction to strong ratings in previous years) will focus only on the best of the past decade. Ads like Mean Joe Greene’s famous Coke spot from the 1970s or the 1984 Macintosh add have been retired to the “Super Bowl Commercial Hall of Fame,” Horowitz says.

An online ballot is being held now to pick the favorite three spots, and then voting during the special (live in the East and Central timezones) will determine which ad Jim Nantz announces as tops of the ’00s.

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