Fox — the network with the broadcasting rights to the upcoming Super Bowl LIV — is reportedly taking measures to ensure that no political ads air back-to-back against a non-political ad during the event, according to Ad Age. However, it appears that only Donald Trump and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg have purchased any political ads at the moment.
People who aren’t even fans of football tend to enjoy watching the big game for the commercials. Indeed, Super Bowl Sunday has become something of an unofficial holiday when it comes to advertising. As one of the consistently most-watched TV events of the year, this major sporting event is when advertisers tend to bring out their funniest, most attention-grabbing, most controversial, and most-talked-about ads.
For some viewers, the Super Bowl is less about the game and more about the commercials, which come with a hefty price tag. A 30-second commercial spot during the big game can cost as much as $5 million by some estimates. With 2020 being an election year, political candidates are likely going to want to get in on the action.
According to Ad Age writer Jeanne Poggi, the problem with airing political advertising during the Super Bowl is that many advertisers loathe having their own ads air immediately before or after a political ad. For example, as Yahoo News reports, an advertiser may not want to see an ad that would otherwise be fodder for water-cooler conversation on the Monday after the Super Bowl be overshadowed by a political ad.
With this in mind, Fox is apparently taking great care to ensure that any political ads run will effectively be stand-alone commercials.
“Fox confirmed with us, before our clients raised any concerns, that the Bloomberg and Trump political ads are isolated from advertisers in anticipation of any issues a brand may have being adjacent and within the same pod,” an anonymous source told Ad Age.
In a practical sense, this approach likely means that political ads will be interspersed between promos for Fox programming. As for Trump and Bloomberg, advertising industry watchers expect the pro-Trump ads to be front-loaded toward the beginning of the game, while Bloomberg ads are expected to run during halftime and later in the game.
Of course, the advertising slots are a “moving puzzle” when it comes to how they will shake out during the game. Things could easily change between now and Super Bowl Sunday.