Ad strategies clash at Super Bowl

By: Joe Nicholson and are boosting their 30-second Super Bowl spots from four to seven, while their newspaper counterpart again plans to stay on the sidelines, E&P has learned. and are lusting for the billions of dollars in help-wanted ads at newspapers and at Los Angeles-based, the 4-year-old job board sponsored by a consortium of about 90 newspapers, including The New York Times and The Washington Post. is spending about $5 million to buy two game spots and three pregame spots as well as two electronic billboard ads. Last January it had a game spot and a pregame spot. is plunking down several million dollars to buy a game spot and a pregame spot. Last January it had one game spot.
Jeffrey C. Taylor, founder and ceo of Maynard, Mass.-based said he will increase his annual advertising budget from $35 million this year to over $60 million next year. The Wenham, Mass.-based Mullen advertising agency is his agency of record.
Taylor’s $5 million package this year, includes five spots and the electronic billboards, one in the pregame telecast and the one during the first quarter.’s Super Bowl buy last January came in the wake of a one-month tv blitz in 18 local markets around the country by, the newspaper consortium. also is buying tv, radio, and “a little bit of outdoor,” said Taylor. His only newspaper advertising this year was a recent full-page ad in The Wall Street Journal, which Taylor said was designed “to reinforce the positive relationship” with parent tmp Worldwide.
Dimitri Boylan, coo of New York-based, said the biggest bang from his Super Bowl spots last year came from an avalanche of free news coverage.
Boylan’s ad agency, McCann-Erickson of Detroit, estimated the Super Bowl spots resulted in over $25 million of media coverage, including stories read by tv network news anchors Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw.
“You can’t buy that kind of press. We were a curiosity, a little guy that roared,” said Boylan. “We were the smallest company in the history of Super Bowl unknown company.”
The month after the Super Bowl,’s traffic more than doubled from 800,000 visitors to 1.7 million.
“I think that missed the boat,” said Boylan. “They were much better financed than we were at that time.”
Ben Bellinson,’s senior vice president for product management and marketing, concedes his two competitors lucked out in the last Super Bowl by picking up enormous free news coverage.
Without that added boost, Bellinson has not been tempted by next January’s Super Bowl. “It’s not a buy that I want to make. I think the money could be better spent at reaching consumers at more effective rates,” he said. is spending over $20 million this year on advertising, including tv, radio, online, outdoor, and human-resource trade publications, said Bellinson, whose mix includes several full-page ads in USA Today.
In addition, will receive more than $25 million in advertising in its consortium papers, which include those owned by the parent companies of The New York Times and The Washington Post as well as the chains of Cox Newspapers Inc., Gannett Co. Inc., and Hearst Corp., Knight Ridder, Times Mirror Co., and Tribune Co.
Between a third and a half of’s traffic comes through the Web sites of consortium papers.
The “strong partnership” with cooperating papers is “likely” to enable to surpass in traffic by the end of next year, said Bellinson, adding, “I just predict that we’re going to win the fight.”

(Editor & Publisher [Caption]
(copyright: Editor & Publisher October 2, 1999) [Caption]

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