Super Bowl 50: Last hurrah for Canadian...
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Feb 03, 2016  |  Vote 0    0

Super Bowl 50: Last hurrah for Canadian commercials

There’s plenty of reason to tune into Super Bowl 50 this Sunday from the game, to the halftime show, to the ads


There are plenty of good reasons to tune into Super Bowl 50 this Sunday: the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers matchup; a halftime show featuring Beyonce and Coldplay; and an array of hilarious, celebrity-laden commercials.

With a 30-second spot commanding up to U.S. $5 million this year, it’s the latter that big business is banking on. But in Canada, where ads cost significantly less during the CTV broadcast, this may be the last hurrah for national brands to showcase themselves on advertising’s marquee night.

In response to viewer complaints, but to the chagrin of marketers, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is ending sim sub, the simultaneous substitution of Canadian commercials over U.S. ads, beginning with the 2017 Super Bowl, even though the regulator has acknowledged that sim sub generates more than $250 million in annual revenue for Canadian broadcasters.

The prestigious placement would no longer be feasible for Canadian advertisers. Canadian advertisers would still have the option of buying space on the CTV broadcast, but they would be reaching a much smaller audience on CTV, as Canadians would now be able to watch American channels with American commercials.

Why advertise in the Canadian broadcast when most people would likely watch the American broadcast?

The game has always been available here on American channels as well as CTV, but because of simsub they all showed the Canadian ads as purchased via Bell Media.

In the long run advertising rates on CTV would have to come down as a result of not reaching as many people, thereby making the NFL’s Canadian broadcast rights less valuable.

“American companies would be handed additional exposure to millions of Canadian consumers at no additional cost while making it impossible for home grown businesses to participate in the most important advertising event of the year,” said Perry MacDonald, Senior Vice-President, English Television and Local Sales at NFL Canadian broadcast rights holder Bell Media which is appealing the CRTC decision.

“This affects not only iconic Canadian companies like Scotiabank, Loblaw and Tim Horton’s, but there’s also small businesses across the country that purchase local air time in the Super Bowl broadcast.”

The policy change is unnecessary since most Super Bowl ads are available online, often before the Big Game, and the consumer grievances were scant, posited MacDonald.

“Of the 7.9 million who watched the game in Canada in 2014, only 90 of them made complaints to the broadcaster, or to the CRTC, about not seeing U.S. ads,” he said.

Ron Lund, President and CEO of the Association of Canadian Advertisers (ACA), which wrote to both the CRTC and Minister of Canadian Heritage requesting the status quo be maintained added: “If you would ask consumers, for instance, if we slowly took out Canadian ads…how much more would they be willing to pay for their television product, that might have an impact on their desire to see the ads.”

In its letter to the CRTC, the ACA said its members already have difficulty reaching Canadian audiences since “almost 20 per cent of all TV viewing in this country” is to U.S. conventional and cable channels, international channels, on-demand, pay, educational and other signals.

Additionally, critics of the sim sub elimination cite the potential loss of revenue to Canadian media advertising agencies; reduced opportunities for local commercial production and Canadian performers; and the advertising of products not available, or in case of pharmaceuticals, not approved, in Canada.

“(It) definitely will have a direct impact on Bell Media’s ability to support Canadian jobs, generate tax revenues and contribute to Canadian programming,” added MacDonald ominously.

The NFL, which has been granted leave to intervene in support of Bell Media’s appeal of the decision, said it stands to lose Super Bowl revenue from Canadian broadcasters.

For now, the Big Game advertising remains a hot property among Canadian advertisers. This year’s newcomers include, BMO, Wealthsimple and GlaxoSmithKline.

“We haven’t seen this year any differences in sales volume considering this could potentially be the last year for sim sub,” said MacDonald confirming that Bell Media’s Super Bowl advertising revenues are “definitely in the eight-figure range.”

In the line-up are global companies with Canadian-produced or Canadian-tweaked spots, such as, Colgate-Palmolive, Bud Light Canada and Hyundai Canada which had one of the top trending game day commercials of Super Bowl 2015.

“It’s the prime spot in the advertising world; you have an audience for that particular piece of live TV which can’t be replicated at any other point of the year,” said Hyundai Canada’s marketing director Lawrence Hamilton of the 60-second commercial unveiling the new Elantra.

The ad is Canadian specific — showing mileage in kilometers instead of miles, for example — and markedly different from Hyundai USA’s Super Bowl ads which feature actors Kevin Hart and Ryan Reynolds.

“The research points to the fact that Canadian consumers are pretty sensitive to things which are obviously from the USA…so we wish to be sensitive to that in our marketplace,” said Hamilton.

Cultural adjustments just make sense, said Scott Campbell, General Manager for Integrated Marketing Communications, North America at Colgate-Palmolive.

“The most important thing as a global advertiser is finding messages that resonate with populations that you’re targeting,” said the PEI-born, New York-based marketer. “If we broadcast a message across geographies that’s not relevant, we lose. That’s the key of successful advertising regardless of the policies.”

While the cancellation of sim sub may not make producing original Super Bowl ads viable for Hyundai Canada “in the long term, we’re committed to generating unique, Canadian content for a Canadian audience,” said Hamilton.

“The auto market in Canada remains fundamentally different from that in the U.S. and that’s likely to remain true for the foreseeable future. This reality necessitates a different approach, which means Hyundai Canada will focus its advertising investment to other properties where it can reach big audiences.”

The regulator has not yet moved to abandon sim sub for other programs, such as, The Academy Awards, The Primetime Emmy Awards or The Golden Globes.

Super Bowl 50’s ad extravaganza is all about celebrities:

T-Mobile: T-Dot’s favourite emo rapper has retooled his hilarious “Hotline Bling” music video for the American cellphone giant. The 30-second “Restricted Bling” ad depicts the company’s suits giving a malleable Drake notes to flesh out the infectious tune with corporate speak.

Budweiser: Dame Helen Mirren fronts “Simply Put,” a PSA about responsible imbibing. Seated in a pub before a plate containing a burger and fries, the queenly actress scolds those that would imbibe and drive drunk.

Mini USA: The auto maker’s “Defy Labels” packs a punch with self-esteem boosting fierceness from Serena Williams, Harvey Keitel, singer T-Pain, skateboarder Tony Hawk, erstwhile baseball player Randy Johnson and former soccer star Abby Wambach.

KIA: The sleek and ever sinister Christopher Walken stars in “Walken Closet.” Wielding a colourful sock puppet he forces a milquetoast husband to question his all-beige existence and add some pizzazz to his life, inveigling “It's like the world's most exciting pair of socks, but it's a midsize sedan.”

LG: Drawing on all his big screen cred, action hero Liam Neeson stars as the mysterious “Man From the Future” lending a hand to his younger self (played by son Michael Neeson) in a spot done by crack filmmaker Ridley Scott’s production company, RSA Films, and directed by Scott's son, Jake.

Amazon Echo: Actor Alec Baldwin and legendary quarterback Dan Marino star in the online behemoth’s first Super Bowl spot. Created by Leo Burnett Toronto, the commercial for Amazon’s wireless speaker and voice command device is also expected to star rapper Missy Elliot.

Toronto Star

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