NBC Won't Play Ball With Novel Super Bowl Ad Approach

footballThis story has been updated.

NBC has rejected a plan by Cesario Migliozzi, one small Los Angeles-based agency, to structure an unusual deal in which eight advertisers will be part of a single 30-second Super Bowl commercial -- even though the network sent the agency detailed plans.

"We've not given them permission, and there is no way we are going to," said an NBC spokesman in an email late Wednesday morning.

Still, NBC seemed to want to work with the agency, sending it two Super Bowl plans by NBC West Coast sports sales executive Corbin Snellerman.

In one email to the agency, dated Dec. 16, agency partner and creative director Michael Migliozzi, Snellerman said: "Michael, Good speaking w/ you earlier and look forward in speaking w/ you end of week. I have attached for you 2 options to give you an idea of pre-game costs, mix, etc. Both options are built to $5 mil total. As mentioned, in-game unit is $3 mil & can work w/ you on the pre-game units in terms of which hour to air, etc. Take a look and give me a call later this week and we can discuss further. Thanks and talk soon."



NBC now says the agency never revealed its plans to package up to eight advertisers in one commercial spot.

Not so, says Migliozzi. "NBC has been applauding this," he said, adding he believes NBC was considering this unusual plan because of a weak economy. Analysts have speculated NBC was pulling out all the stops in trying to sell the typically inventory-heavy pre-game commercials in the Super Bowl.

"They are trying to find ways to get inventory sold," he said. "They were trying to up-sell us." Although Migliozzi only wanted to buy one Super Bowl spot for $3 million, NBC came back with two different plans, each amounting to $5 million.

In one plan, NBC offers one in-game Super Bowl commercial spot at $3 million, and another 10 pre-game spots--each running in every half-hour, starting at noon through 5:30 p.m.

In this plan, NBC unit prices range from a low of $44,500 for a spot in the "Road to the Super Bowl," a show which airs from noon to 1 p.m. This initial commercial is estimated to be a $15.54 cost per thousand on households. Unit pricing climbs to $233,900 at 4 p.m. (a $25.53 CPM) to $778,500 at 5:30 p.m. (a $38.85 CPM). NBC estimates an 8 household rating at 4 p.m. and a 17.5 rating at 5:30 p.m.

For the Super Bowl itself, NBC estimates a 42.4 household rating or a $61.79 CPM for a $3 million unit price. For 11 Super Bowl game-day spots, the total price tag is $5,010,200, or a full-day average CPM of $40.29.

A second option runs far fewer spots--four pre-game commercials and one in-game commercial--which comes to a $5,007,900, or a full-day average $50.56 CPM on households. The major difference here: one of those pre-game spots comes in the more valuable--and high-rated-- "kickoff" time period, which runs between 6 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. just before the game begins. That one spot carries a $1,612,800 price tag.

Three other spots run earlier in the day--between noon and 1 p.m., at 2:30 p.m., and at 4 p.m., at unit prices of $44,500, $116,700 and $233,900, respectively. Adding in the $3 million in-game spot brings the total to over $5 million.

Migliozzi was undecided whether his group of advertisers would have wanted to buy the bigger package.

NBC did not comment regarding the proposed deal by press time. But a spokesman did say that NBC was "approaching 90% sold" for its Super Bowl in-game inventory. According to estimates, that would mean about seven to eight spots remain to be purchased.

Concerning the placement of the Super Bowl, Migliozzi says NBC had availability in the highly prized first quarter, as well as in the third quarter. He said NBC had plenty of availability in the fourth quarter.

NBC's concern is with exclusivity, says Migliozzi. For example, should a regular 30-second spot from a single telecommunications company run in a specific commercial pod, Migliozzi may have trouble signing up Virgin Mobile, one of the companies he has contacted.

Some of the other companies he has contacted include: American Apparel, Facebook, Smart Cars, Vespa, The Hard Rock Café, Puma, The Athlete's Foot, Scion and jetBlue.

in addition, the agency also contacted Fed Ex, which said earlier this week it was ending its run in the big game because humorous spots that it customarily airs send the "wrong message" for this tough economy. But money may also be a factor. "We'd like to keep their streak alive," says Migliozzi. (FedEx has appeared in 18 Super Bowls, going back to 1989.)

Originally, Migliozzi's plan has been to target eight advertisers that will pay $395,000 each to have their logos appear for the complete airing of the 30-second spot. The entertainment backdrop would have included an old-time musical number, with tap dancing.

Around 11 companies had been pitched, and he says more than half were "very interested." He was targeting the beginning of next week to close the deal with those advertisers, as well as with NBC.

Concerning his so-called co-op plan, Migliozzi says he was not looking to make an end-run around other high-paying Super Bowl advertisers. "We are not looking to harm anyone. We just have a different approach. It is also fiscally responsible."

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