Action! Hollywood Pitches 11 Films In Super Bowl

By some estimates, this year's game on NBC, which will air on Feb. 1, will have 11 30-second commercials--out of 65 total spots in the Super Bowl--coming from the movie companies. That would be up from eight 30-second spots a year ago.

"Movies will be a strong category; they are going to bail out the Super Bowl," say Robert Marich, analyst/research for Adams Media Research, who authored Marketing to Moviegoers: Tactics and Strategy.

For the 2009 Super Bowl game, Paramount Pictures will promote four movies: "Monsters vs. Aliens" (from DreamWorks, featuring a special 90-second spot); "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," "Star Trek" and "G.I. Joe." Sony Pictures will have one spot for the Tom Hanks/Ron Howard film "Angels and Demons." Universal Pictures will do two movies, "Land of the Lost" and the fourth installment of "The Fast and the Furious." Fox Filmed Entertainment will do one for "Wolverine." Walt Disney will promote Pixar's animated "Up."

Before September of last year, NBC said it had been selling many Super Bowl spots for $3 million. But analysts say that price tag has drifted much lower, now that an economic recession has taken hold. Approximately six to eight commercials are left to be sold in this year's event, according to industry executives.



Marich believes that with the some perennial advertisers sitting on the sidelines, such as General Motors and FedEx, movie companies that have not been affected by the economic downturn have been picking up the slack. "This is an industry that is highly recession-proof," says Marich, who notes that the box-office revenues were flat in 2008 versus 2007.

Movie studios are typically a strong category in the big game, after the beer and auto categories. Typically, film companies look to market their big summer releases, or in some instances, a big spring movie. The only low Super Bowl year in recent memory was in 2007, when movie studios only bought four 30-second spots, down from 11 commercials in 2006.

Considering that the game is still three weeks away--and that the film business continues to hold steady--Marich believes a few more spots could be added. Two studios that have bought in the past and could buy again: Warner Bros. and MGM Distribution Co.

Last year, among the eight films touted were Paramount's lesser-regarded "Iron Man," which went on to become one of 2008's biggest movies. "'Iron Man' came out of nowhere last year," says Marich. "It proves a Super Bowl spot really can excite a male audience."

Overall, movie studio advertising executives believe that Super Bowl commercials, which typically attract a wide range of viewers, are still an efficient buy.

"These ads are very persuasive," says Marich. What they don't garner, he notes, is critical acclaim. Other Super Bowl advertisers count on their creative to get buzz and attention from viewers and the press. Film ads want to promote upcoming releases. "They don't win awards," he says.

Media research company TNS Media said NBC may exceed last year's Super Bowl ad revenue take of $186.3 million, averaging $2.7 million for a 30-second spot. TNS says last year's game on Fox contained over 44 minutes of network ads, an all-time high.

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