Some Super Bowl advertisers concerned Trump, Bloomberg ads could steal their thunder

Marketers are voicing concerns about what happens if their ad appears just after a commercial for Trump or Bloomberg, one expert said.
Michael Bloomberg
Michael Bloomberg.Olivier Douliery / AFP - Getty Images file

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By Claire Atkinson

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump’s campaign told email subscribers that they’d get a sneak peek at his $10 million Super Bowl ad if they got in touch via text. That sort of tactic around his ad — and the attention paid to the $10 million presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg spent on advertising, too — has some Super Bowl advertisers concerned, since many depend on pre- and post-game media coverage and social chatter to make the most of their outlandish spending.

A 30-second spot during the Fox broadcast of Super Bowl LIV, which will be played in Miami on Feb. 2, costs as much as $5.6 million. The network sold out all of the time for commercials earlier than usual because of high demand. While there will be scores of Super Bowl spots for beer brands, snacks and beauty products, the question remains whether all the attention will be focused on Trump and Bloomberg’s pricey ad buys.

Last year, two of the top-ranked commercials were Microsoft’s ad featuring young disabled children playing gaming consoles, and Verizon’s first responders spot. Harris Diamond, the chief executive officer of the ad agency McCann Worldgroup, which represents Verizon and Microsoft, said clients are discussing the impact of political commercials and their effect on pre-game and post-game media conversations.

Marketers are voicing concerns about what happens if their ad appears just after a controversial commercial for Trump or Bloomberg, which could immediately overshadow their marketing efforts, Diamond said. “Placement is going to be very important,” he said.

Fox has told marketers that it will put the political ads in their own commercial segments to avoid detracting from other commercials, according to two people who didn’t want to be identified because of industry connections. A spokeswoman for Fox network declined to comment on commercial placements.

“It’s a concern for some of our clients, and I’ve had that conversation with some of our clients," Diamond said. "And I do expect that conversation to continue.”

But he said big marketers will still advertise during the Super Bowl because they want to reach exceptionally large audiences. Last year’s Super Bowl on CBS attracted an audience of 98.8 million, the biggest telecast of 2019 by far.

One major advertiser, who did not want to be named because the company does business with all the broadcast networks and which has not yet revealed any Super Bowl presence this year, told NBC News: “I can not imagine a chief marketing officer who wants to catch this hand grenade.”

Advertisers are also wondering if the political ads will be like Ronald Reagan’s upbeat “Morning in America,” spot that ran in 1984, or will have a more dystopian, negative take. An earlier reveal of the political spots might defuse conversations about the spots after the game.

Kellogg’s Pop-Tarts is in the Super Bowl for the first time this year debuting a new pretzel flavor product with “Queer Eye’s” Jonathan Van Ness. Philipp Schaffer, senior commercial director at Pop-Tarts, said he is a keen observer of the context in which the firm’s ads are viewed but said he was focused on producing a fun Super Bowl commercial.

When asked if he’s concerned about being overshadowed by political ads, he responded: “I hope not. I can’t wait for the public to see our spot.”