Budweiser is launching a Canada-only sequel to ‘Whassup,’ a U.S. campaign that started in 1999 and ran during the 2000 Super Bowl.
The Associated Press
In recent years, Bell Medias advertising sales strategy for the Super Bowl has been an exercise in failed optimism: pricing its commercial time on the assumption it would win reprieve in a fight over U.S. ads, only to have to push prices down again. But ahead of Sundays game, things are looking up for the Canadian broadcaster.
The fight began when BCE Inc.’s media division mounted a court challenge to a Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission decision. Starting in 2017, Canadians would be able to see the flashy American ads if they tuned in to the U.S. channel rather than CTV or TSN, which own the rights to the big game in Canada.
Bell went to market on the assumption that its court challenge would maintain simultaneous substitution, which allows a Canadian broadcaster to ask cable and satellite companies to paste its signal over an American feed on any show airing on both networks at the same time, showing all viewers Canadian ads. This system has been a bedrock of the Canadian TV industry for years, ensuring the maximum possible ad revenue for broadcasters here.
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But when it did not receive the stay on the simsub decision, Bell had to go back to the market to cut its prices. In the first year that the decision took effect, it lost 39 per cent of its Super Bowl audience compared with the previous year, and lost $11-million in advertising revenue.
Now, with a Supreme Court decision in December saying that the CRTC overstepped its jurisdiction, signal-swapping will be back in Sundays Super Bowl broadcast. Even those who tune in to Fox, which holds the U.S. rights this year, will see Canadian commercials. And Bell has already seen a difference in its ad sales.
We certainly had a lot of advertisers confirm their participation as being directly linked to the Supreme Court decision, said Perry MacDonald, Bell Medias senior vice-president of sales for English video and radio.
The channel has seen some advertisers come on board that did not choose to buy airtime for last years game, including Hyundai, Kia, Cavendish Farms, Royale Tiger Towel, Janssen Canada and TurboTax, Mr. Macdonald said. The bigger audience has influenced not only the media buys, but also decisions about what to put on the air: Bell has noticed more are rolling out new ads for the broadcast that are unique to the Canadian market.
One of those is Budweiser, launching a Canada-only sequel to Whassup, a U.S. campaign that started in 1999 and ran during the 2000 Super Bowl. The original was an award-winning and famous ad, and also an auditory assault; this time, it has robots. The company always buys space for the Super Bowl, and had planned the ad before the Supreme Court decision.
Once you get the full audience through [signal-swapping in] the U.S. feed, then youve got to go back to the negotiation table. Because theyre now delivering a bigger audience, said Todd Allen, vice-president of marketing for Labatt Breweries of Canada. Still, he was encouraged by the change. When youre developing a Canadian-specific spot for Super Bowl, it absolutely helps if youre able to deliver 100 per cent of that audience through the broadcast.”
Hyundai is running its U.S. ad featuring John Krasinski, Rachel Dratch, Chris Evans and David Ortiz on the Canadian broadcast. Before 2017, the company frequently made Canadian-specific ads for Super Bowl.
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We will definitely be factoring this into our planning as we go forward, said Vito Sacchetti, national manager of marketing communications for Hyundai Auto Canada Corp. If were in alignment with the U.S. again, and it works, then great. Theres efficiency to be had there. And if not, well try and continue to do some entertaining content thats contextually relevant.
Ad prices are governed both by audience size, and by demand. TV viewership in general has been decreasing in recent years, and the Super Bowl is no exception. But the demand is still there from advertisers.
We wont see necessarily audiences this year returning to where they were before [2017] because of fragmentation. There are different places to view, different platforms, said Diane Devries, senior vice-president of media buying at Cossette Media. But if you are an advertiser that needs quick, high reach, its one of very few opportunities to do so.
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