March 15th, 2011

Until the Final Four, There Will Be Ads Galore

The New York Times

As the National Collegiate Athletic Association gets ready for its annual men’s basketball tournament, Madison Avenue is gearing up for one of its most intensive periods of pitching and peddling outside of the Christmas shopping season.

through April 4, will be sponsored by scores of major marketers, spending hundreds of millions of dollars.

Kantar Media, a unit of WPP that tracks ad spending, reports that advertisers spent $613.8 million last year to run commercials nationally during the games on CBS.

This year, CBS is splitting the coverage with three cable channels that are part of Time Warner: TBS, TNT and truTV. And there are three additional teams playing, raising the total to 68 from 65, which of course means additional games — and additional commercial time to be sold.

“CBS has figured out that people who are very interested in college basketball have almost an insatiable appetite for it,” said Paul Alexander, the senior vice president for communications at Liberty Mutual in Boston who oversees marketing.

During the tournament coverage, Liberty Mutual will bring out new commercials in its long-running “responsibility” campaign, created by Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos in Boston, an agency that is part of the Interpublic Group of Companies. The commercials will run in versions that are 15, 30 and 60 seconds long.

The audience that watches the college basketball tournament “meshes well with our target” for Liberty Mutual insurance products, Mr. Alexander said, which is men and women who are “a little older,” meaning ages 29 to 55 or 60, as well as “well-educated and maybe slightly more affluent” than the average, he added.

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