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Volume 24 No. 179

Marketing and Sponsorship

NBCU Exec VP/Sales & Marketing Dan Lovinger on Thursday said that the net "expects to take in" $500M in ad revenue on Super Bowl Sunday, "about the same as last year's event," according to Stephen Battaglio of the L.A. TIMES. Lovinger said that NBC had "fewer than 10 spots available" for Super Bowl LII. He added that the "average price was 'north'" of $5M for a 30-second ad, "in line with pricing in recent years." Meanwhile, Lovinger said that advertiser demand has "also been strong" for NBC's telecasts of next month's Pyeongchang Games. He projected a $900M take in ad revenue, which he "said would be a record for a Winter Olympics." Lovinger said that the net is "projecting an audience 'close' to the 21.4 million viewers who tuned in each night" to the '14 Sochi Games (L.A. TIMES, 1/12). Lovinger said pre- and post-game ad units, along with NBC's "This Is Us" post-Super Bowl LII episode, are also "well sold." Sales are so strong that Lovinger said that some days during the Pyeongchang Games are "already sold out." Lovinger "told reporters in October that a quarter of the revenue for both events would be tied to brands who are advertising during both the Super Bowl and the Olympics." He said that percentage has now "increased to a third of total ad revenue for both events." ADWEEK's Jason Lynch noted the Super Bowl brands "include a 'traditional mix' for the big game, with strong presence in automotive, theatrical, consumer packaged goods, consumer electronics and telco categories" (ADWEEK.com, 1/11). Lovinger said that he is "seeing more interest in longer commercials for the Super Bowl than short-form." Lovinger: "You will see more longer-form, longer than :30s, than you have in any other Super Bowl." Lovinger said that the automotive and movie studios categories are "again strong." AD AGE's Jeanine Poggi noted the consumer packaged goods space "remains an 'emerging' category" (ADAGE.com, 1/11).

IT'S BEAUTIFUL: The AP's Mesfin Fekadu reported Cindy Crawford has recreated her iconic '92 Super Bowl ad for Pepsi, now "featuring her 18-year-old son." Crawford recently filmed the commercial, as well as "footage from Michael Jackson's memorable Pepsi commercial." The new Super Bowl ad, dubbed "This Is The Pepsi," is part of the company’s "Pepsi Generation" campaign "honoring the brand's 120-year history in pop culture" (AP, 1/11). ADWEEK's Kristina Monllos noted it is "not clear which agency is behind the new ad or when it will run during the game." As part of the campaign, Pepsi will have "pop-ups at big events like the Super Bowl" (ADWEEK.com, 1/11). AD AGE's E.J. Schultz noted Pepsi did "not release other creative details on the spot, including what other celebrities might appear" (ADAGE.com, 1/11). THE WALL STREET JOURNAL's Vranica & Lombardo noted PepsiCo last year "benched Pepsi" for Super Bowl LI, giving the "high-profile in-game ad time to its new water brand LIFEWTR as health-conscious consumers sought out lower-calorie sparkling and flavored waters." Pepsi will also once again "sponsor the halftime show" this year featuring Justin Timberlake (WSJ.com, 1/11).

I'M SO FANCY
: Headphones and speakers brand Monster Products announced at CES this week that it will make its "Super Bowl debut with a spot starring Iggy Azalea." AD AGE's Poggi wrote, "Given what's expected to be hyper-sensitivity to how women are portrayed in Super Bowl commercials amid the #metoo movement, it will be interesting to see how Monster Products utilizes Azalea, whose career has been riddled with controversy" (ADAGE.com, 1/11). ADWEEK's Erik Oster noted Monster Europe tweeted about the announcement, adding that Azalea would "help launch the brand’s new Airlinks Elements wireless headphones, presumably the product being promoted in the Super Bowl spot" (ADWEEK.com, 1/10). Poggi writes amid recent sexual harassment allegations across the entertainment and sports industries, "microscopic scrutiny will be applied to the way Super Bowl advertisers portray women." Some of the "worst offenders" over the years, like GoDaddy and Carl's Jr., have "cooled their objectification of women in recent years." However, a "less obvious problem" is the "huge, persistent gap between the number of men who are front and center in Super Bowl ads and the number of women in big roles." While brands may "refrain from showcasing scantily-clad women," in many cases, they "simply aren't featuring women at all" (ADAGE.com, 1/12).

GOODBYE ELEPHANT: ADWEEK's Oster noted Wonderful Pistachios "will sit out Super Bowl LII." Last year, The Wonderful Co. "ran 15-second sports for both its brands, Fiji Water and Wonderful Pistachios," which previously appeared in the Super Bowl in '13, '14 and '17 (ADWEEK.com, 1/11).

The Cubs have signed a three-year, $3M partnership with Boeing that will create a series of military recognitions both at Wrigley Field and around the world. Activations will include a military salute in the fourth inning of every Cubs home game, a first pitch at every Sunday home game by either active or retired military personnel and the creation of several military-themed days in the team’s schedule. The agreement also is slated to include the creation of a VR experience from in and around Wrigley Field featuring Cubs players and coaches that will be shown at U.S. military bases around the world. The VR content will be developed during this season with a yet-to-be-determined vendor. Each activation will contain Boeing branding. The club’s efforts with Boeing are in addition to existing league-driven commemorations of military service. “Both of us wanted to do something more,” said Cubs Chair Tom Ricketts. “This one is a bit off the page [from a traditional sponsorship agreement]. But we think we’ve created something special to help recognize military service.” The effort also will involve the USO of Illinois, which includes on its BOD Allen Hermeling, Cubs Senior Dir of Corporate Partnership and Managing Dir of sister outfit Marquee Sports & Entertainment. Hermeling, a Naval Academy graduate, played a critical role in developing the agreement. Boeing Chair, President & CEO Dennis Muilenburg: “We thought a lot about a lot of different types of partnerships with the Cubs, and I’ve been friendly with Tom Ricketts for a long time. But as we discussed this, we both thought we could do something that could be really differentiated and convey a sense of support for our servicemen and women.” The company has more than 20,000 military veterans among its employees.

Shaquille O’Neal last night unveiled a new partnership with Carnival Cruise Line during TNT’s “NBA Tip-Off.” TNT's Ernie Johnson said O’Neal has some "very exciting news to share.” O’Neal: “I’d rather show you.” The broadcast then aired a new Carnival ad featuring O’Neal, who said Carnival Chair and Heat Owner Micky Arison “made me CFO at Carnival.” Charles Barkley said, “First of all, nobody trusting you with numbers.” O’Neal replied he is "all about numbers," and added as the “new CFO, I’m giving you guys two free cruises.” The ad revealed that CFO stands for "Chief Fun Officer" (“NBA Tip-Off,” TNT, 1/11). AD AGE's Adrianne Pasquarelli notes the new brand campaign is the "first from Carnival's agency-of-record Anomaly." In a 30-second spot, O'Neal "takes viewers on a whirlwind tour of Carnival, which includes the fastest wedding ever, but no time for basketball." The commercial "will air nationally" during the Pyeongchang Games. O'Neal will also "star in a series of other content posted digitally." The new spot will be the "first national TV commercial for Carnival in four years, when it advertised during the last winter Olympics" (ADAGE.com, 1/12).

U.S. freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy "will be one of only a few openly gay athletes on the U.S. Olympic team next month," and since coming out, "his career, his platform and his brand have taken off," according to Rick Maese of the WASHINGTON POST. Despite being one of the "only action sports star to come out of the closet," Kenworthy has "zero regrets" about his decision. Kenworthy entered the Sochi Games in '14 as a "relative unknown." Even afterward, he was "recognized more for adopting stray dogs in Russia than for his silver medal in the slopestyle event." He still has to qualify, but he will "probably enter the PyeongChang Olympics next month as a star." Kenworthy said, "I’m definitely like ‘the gay skier’ now, and that’s fine. I knew I was stepping into that role when I did it." He had a "handful of small deals in Sochi, but he’ll head to PyeongChang with corporate backing like few others with several big-name companies onboard," including Visa, Toyota, United, P&G, Ralph Lauren and Deloitte. Kenworthy also recently signed deals with Chobani and Samsung. Being gay "didn’t scare them away; it only seemed to make Kenworthy a more attractive spokesman." Kenworthy: "All these brands want to tell my story, and my story isn’t just the story of an athlete." Wasserman's Michael Spencer, Kenworthy’s agent, said that after Kenworthy came out, all of Kenworthy's "existing sponsors immediately expressed support and he started lining up meetings with other companies that wanted to partner with his 26-year-old client." They "didn’t all sign deals right away, many waiting until the Olympics were closer" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 1/11).

Patriots QB Tom Brady's upcoming Facebook Watch series is the latest sign he is "building a business for his life after football," according to Joe Drape of the N.Y. TIMES. The "Tom vs. Time" series comes after the release last fall of his book "The TB12 Method" and the launch of his "lifestyle website," TB12Sports.com. Brady has "'merch' to sell on his site: supplements, snack bars, apps and gear," and he has a "brand to build -- one that will carry him well past the end of his playing days." Brady also maintains the "social media tools to brandish his newfound mysticism." Drape: "Give it to Brady. This is a pretty original stab at a third act" (N.Y. TIMES, 1/12).

GETTING AN INSIDE LOOK: NBC SPORTS BOSTON's Tom Curran talked to fimlmaker Gotham Chopra, who worked with Brady on "Tom vs. Time," and noted the series is “not so much a business proposition as somewhat of a living archive.” Chopra said the documentary “started out as a real offseason look” at how Brady prepares for the season. However, it ended up evolving to examine the mental and “emotional aspect” of his training. Chopra: “For Tom, almost unlike any other athlete I’ve worked with, football is not just what he does for a living. ... It's who he is. Nobody loves the game more than this guy.” Chopra said Brady describes playing in front of thousands of fans as “spiritual” and it is “one of the things that really resonates.” Chopra: “I understand (the NFL) is a business, but there’s no version of documenting Tom Brady’s life without seeing how important the TB12 Method and all that stuff is.” Chopra said the series is “really intimate and sometimes, frankly, it’s not the most beautiful” thing ever recorded, but it is "really raw.” Curran asked, "How many warts are there going to be?” Chopra: “It’s going to be pretty revealing” (“Quick Slants the Podcast,” NBCSPORTSBOSTON.com, 1/12).