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World Cup fails to spur German TV ad boom

Despite a record number of Germans watching the World Cup, the event has failed to generate the television advertising boom that experts and broadcasters in Germany had hoped for.
/ Source: Reuters

Despite a record number of Germans watching the World Cup, the event has failed to generate the television advertising boom that experts and broadcasters in Germany had hoped for.

Private broadcaster RTL, which shares the free-to-air rights to the tournament with German state broadcasters ZDF and ARD, said its sales of advertising would not be enough to cover what it paid for the TV rights.

"We can not cover our costs of the broadcasting rights with advertising," said a spokeswoman for IP Deutschland, which sells advertising time on RTL. "But then again this is really all about improving our image anyway," she added.

Even though Germany's advertising expenditure is expected to hit a four-year high of $38 billion this year, soccer will have little to do with it.

The big boom will come after the World Cup in the second half of 2006, as consumers rush to buy goods ahead of a value added tax increase next year, according to advertising experts.

ZDF said it had only managed to fill 70 percent of its advertising slots before, during and after the matches.

"Bookings for commercials could definitely have been better," sales and marketing director Christoph Lueken said.

He said many companies had decided to place their TV ads in the run-up to the tournament, as they feared their message would get lost in a mass of advertising during the World Cup.

Experts also said that the high cost of prime time advertising had discouraged firms.

RTL, for example wanted 155,000 euros for 30 seconds of airtime during Sunday's match between Portugal and the Netherlands. Normally, such a Sunday night slot would cost only half of that.

"The high prices were justified," said the IP Deutschland spokeswoman. "We had an audience share of almost 52 percent for this match."

Most TV ads seen during the World Cup come from the tournament's big sponsors like Coca-Cola and Deutsche Telekom and they all have soccer-related themes.

Ad agencies have advised their clients not to try to push unrelated products such as detergent and chocolate during the World Cup.

"The Germans are talking about whether (German captain Michael) Ballack will be playing or not and they do not care about ads," said Dirk Kall, partner at ad agency BBDO.