From the Super Bowl to The Voice of China: Buying the world’s most sought-after ad spots | M&M Global

From the Super Bowl to The Voice of China: Buying the world’s most sought-after ad spots

Advertisers across the globe are looking for budgets to stretch further than ever, tasking their agencies to find the next big media platform that will give them mass audience per minute spend.

Although this may be the preferred option for small or mid-sized advertisers that wish to send a brand message, they still have to consider using dominant audience vehicles. M&M Global looks at some of the worldwide mass audience opportunities.

North America

United StatesUS

Probably the most famous ad spot globally is for the Super Bowl final, which will be broadcast by NBC on Sunday 7 February 2016.

The annual championship of the National Football League (NFL) is known as Super Bowl Sunday, and has been shared on a rota basis by national broadcasters CBS, Fox and NBC.

If recent reports are true, CBS has shunted its 30-second spots during the final to an eye-watering $5m from a previously-expected $4.5m (and that is up from $4m for the 2014 final).

That spot does, however, come with not only a place in front of all those American consumers, but also the kind of PR that money can’t buy, guaranteeing column inches dedicated to those marketing directors brave enough to ask their chief executive for the cash.

Marketers courting viewers of the 2015 final included Procter & Gamble with its Always spot; Anheuser-Busch InBev, which secured seven 30-second spots during the game (totalling 210 seconds, down from 240 seconds during 2014); BMW, which booked a 60-second commercial; and Coca-Cola, which also booked a full minute of airtime.


Broadcasting the live game can bring in millions of viewers, with this year’s final between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks drawing a phenomenal 114.5 million viewers, peaking at 120.8 million as the game was taken to extra time to seal the Patriots’ 28-24 point victory over the Seahawks.

This viewer tally topped the previous year’s 112.2 million that tuned in with beer, chips and dips to see the Seahawks trounce the Denver Broncos 43-8.

Steve Williams, chief executive of Maxus North America, says: “These days, the Super Bowl is an advertising event in and of itself. Brands, and an increasingly surprising variety of them (take Turbo Tax as an example), are taking advantage of one of the last ‘super-mass’ joint viewing [TV] events (notwithstanding the Olympics).

“It’s a trans-generational moment in time, and therefore a perfect place for brands to congregate and build influence and affection. It’s about earning your way into the living room.

“In marketing terms, is it about eyeballs – yes. It’s also a destination event and moment in the American culture.”



Big sporting events are obviously huge in France, but unique to the country is the massive success of TV show Les Enfoirés, a music show that features an array of sport, music or film celebrities who sing to collect funds for a charity called ‘Restaurants du Coeur’.

Since 1986 this show has been broadcast in March on TF1, the biggest channel in France, and every year it is the most-watched show on French TV with ratings of well over 10 million people. Les Enfoirés holds the record for the most expensive TV spot – a 30-second spot during this year’s event cost €155,000 (US$173,000).

Louis Morales-Chanard, head of marketing and innovation for ZenithOptimedia France, says: “Nearly 30 years after the show’s launch, it has become an institution and is as important as the 14th of July presidential speech.”


According to Dentsu Aegis media network Carat, the most expensive and impressive opportunity for advertisers in the territory last year was the FIFA World Cup tournament – notably the 1-0 victory over France that put Germany through to the semi-final.

The spot was estimated to have cost Hyundai €355,000 ($400,000) and featured a Guinea Pig that would predict the winner according to which named food bowl it chose to eat from.


Along with Germany, the Italian passion for football wins out. According to Carat, the most expensive spaces for advertisers lie within the ad breaks around the FIFA World Cup.

The agency states that the most expensive buy would consist of a module on national broadcaster RAI 1 – consisting of 26 commercials at 15 seconds each, at an estimate of €6.1m ($6.8m).

Carat also flags an OOH maxi-position in Rome’s Piazza di Spagna, which can be yours for just €350,000 ($390,000) a week.


The most impressive and expensive out-of-home media opportunities in Russia are located in Moscow at Volokalamskoe High Street and at Novy Arbat Street.

The first is 3,840 square metres, making it the largest media facade in Europe, with the rate card for the site costing 12.9m Rubles ($200,000) a month. Recent advertisers have included Mercedes, Microsoft and Russian airline Aeroflot.

The top rating event on Russian TV is traditionally a New Year speech by the president, which is broadcast on all channels from 11:55pm till 00:05am on New Year’s Eve. It attracts 26.5 million TV viewers and is broadcast on the First Channel. However, advertising faces restriction during New Year’s Eve.

Among purely commercial broadcasting time, the top TV programme is Pust Govoryat (Let Them Talk) – a talk show on the First Channel during prime time (broadcast at 8pm Monday to Thursday).

The rate card cost of a 30-second spot is an estimated 2.8m Rubles ($45,000) and recent advertisers include PepsiCo, confectionary manufacturer Slavyanka and coffee company Jacobs.



In Spain, sporting events – primarily football – deliver the largest audiences. Last year, Spain’s games in the FIFA World Cup stood out with the highest viewing figures with audiences of around 13 million. The channels that broadcast those games were T5 Cuatro, owned by the Mediaset Group.

Aside from television broadcasts of live sporting events, the Callao screens (Callao City Lights) deliver the highest audience numbers in Spain. Plaza de Callao in Madrid is the most visited site in the country with 113 million visitors each year, and is the third most visited place in Europe after Piccadilly Circus in London and the Louvre in Paris. Advertisers that have recently used the sites at Callao include Mercedes, Telefónica and Pernod Richard.


Although last year’s ratings average of 9.1 million viewers was down by nearly a million on 2013, The X-Factor final – the singing talent show fronted by record company impresario Simon Cowell and the nation’s sweetheart Cheryl Fernandez-Versini broadcast on ITV1 – is still a firm favourite for trading directors across the UK.

A 30-second slot is estimated to cost between £100,000 to £150,000 ($155,000 to $230,000), but this has dropped from a reported top level of £250,000 ($385,000) during the 2010 season.

Transmitted during the highly-lucrative pre-Christmas run up, with the winner’s single released in the week before the festive holidays, the final has played host to advertisers including retailers Argos, Marks & Spencer, Debenhams and Sainsbury’s and broadcaster Sky.

However, during the 2014 finals high-profile advertiser John Lewis broke tradition and chose to release its Christmas campaign featuring ‘Monty the penguin’ on Channel 4 during the broadcaster’s runaway reality television hit Gogglebox, despite being given an in-break announcement of an “advertising premiere” for its Bear and Hare slot last year.

For the 2015 season, the show has been given an overhaul in an attempt to revitalise the offering and inject a more youthful feel. Out as judges are former Spice Girl Mel B and 11-year veteran Louis Walsh, and in come Rita Ora, who has jumped ship from BBC1 talent show rival The Voice, and BBC Radio One’s Nick Grimshaw.

Mark Jarvis, co-founder of the UK’s largest independent media agency the7stars, says: “In 2014 the [X-Factor] finale was ‘only’ watched by 9.2 million viewers. Admittedly this still just about ranked it in the top ten viewing experiences on UK TV screens, but it does represent a worrying trend.”

ITV (and the production company Syco) are no mugs; they will have to do something radical this year if they are to stem the decline. The introduction of new well-known talent in the form of Rita Ora and Nick Grimshaw is a sure-fired attempt to woo back that elusive younger audience.

“We welcome this move and believe the show can regain its crown as one of the best rating pullers. We will certainly be encouraging our clients to buy in,” says Jarvis.

Asia Pacific


If sport comes top of many of the most expensive or most impressive media buys, then Australia is no different.

Aussie rules football is a national obsession and is reflected in prices that, although negotiated after rate card, media agencies will pay to get in front of boys (and girls) rushing in from the barbeque or the beach. According to the Maxus Australia office, the Australian Football League (AFL) final is the big draw. This year the final will take place on 3 October.

Last year, the final broadcast on the Seven network took place between the Sydney Swans and the Hawthorn Football Club. It was the 118th annual VFL/AFL grand final since its inception in 1898m with Hawthorn beating Sydney by 63 points to claim its second consecutive premiership and its twelfth premiership overall.

According to the WPP agency, the cost for a 30-second spot in all five capital cities of Australia by population (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide) is AUS$130,000 ($93,000). Last year’s final brought in 2.8 million viewers. The final is reported to attract AUS$425m ($300m) in ticket sales, memberships, television rights, sponsorships, merchandise, gaming and other revenues.

Advertisers who have used spots during the final include DIY store Bunnings, insurance company AAMI, Unilever, Heinz and car marque Toyota (which is also lead sponsor of the AFL).

Jon Chadwick, chief executive of Maxus Australia, says: “The ability to simultaneously reach large audiences is becoming a rarity. As a result the big media flares such as the AFL grand final will become more and more precious, as we have fewer options to capture the hearts and minds of consumers en masse.”


Years of China’s Communist rule have not dulled the commercial openings, with media owners opening up more spots than ever for advertisers to take advantage of as the territory adapts to the consumer agenda.

Lead sponsorship of The Voices of China or Running Man (China version) on Zhejiang Province Satellite TV are one of the most expensive opportunities, costing advertisers around 300m Chinese Yuan ($47m).

The Voice Of China

The price of a 30-second spot costs an estimated 1.4m Chinese Yuan ($220,000) during The Voice of China and around 1.1m Chinese Yuan ($172,000) during Running Man. Rate card does not usually apply for these spots, as advertisers and their media agencies clamour to get hold of these positions.

The slots are so favoured that several blue-chip clients (domestic and international) have used the programmes as a platform. Advertisers include JiaDuoBao, BaiQuelin, OPPO and Mengniu on the domestic side and global clients like L’Oreal, Coca-Cola, Wyeth, Pepsi, Apple and Anheuser-Busch InBev for Budweiser.

Mykim Chikli, chief executive of ZenithOptimedia China, said: “The highest rated programmes are now also the topics generating the most social conversations.

“Even the repeats still have two to three rating points in daytime not to mention online TV re-runs. We have also analysed strong peaks in consumer interest for the brands that sponsor these shows, with for example peaks in the Baidu index (the local equivalent to the Google index).”

Hong KongHong Kong

The most expensive media buy in Hong Kong is TVB Jade Channel, the flagship TV channel in the city. Established by Television Broadcasts Limited, it is one of the free-to-air Cantonese TV channels in Hong Kong.

The rate card cost of one 30-second prime time spot costs HK$1,575,960 ($200,000). As TVB runs on a pre-emption basis, the cost can vary from HK$117,720 to HK$1,575,960 ($15,100 to $203,000). One prime time spot can reach an average of 20% of a target audience.


For a soccer crazy nation like Japan the FIFA World Cup consistently tops the most impressive (and most expensive) destinations for the advertiser’s budget, with 30- and 60-second spots reaching near-Super Bowl proportions.

The Japanese side is a source of national pride, but during last year’s tournament it was knocked out at the group stages following a 4-1 loss to Group C leaders Columbia.

Nippon TV held the commercial terrestrial rights for the disappointing defeat that was estimated to cost 40m to 50 million Japanese Yen ($3.3m to $4.1m) for a 60-second spot. The price was half that for a 30-second showing.

Campbell adds: “85% of TV ads in Japan are 15 seconds, resulting in it being the world’s most cluttered advertising market, with more television ads per capita than any other country. Sixty seconds goes a long way to create impact, no matter the cost.”


In Singapore, the out-of-home (OOH) offering remains strong, according to WPP’s Mindshare, one of the country’s leading media networks.

The agency says the premium OOH placements along the highly-prized Orchard Road are some of the most impressive within the territory, with fashion and financial advertisers paying up to 100,000 Singapore Dollars ($71,000) per month for a single billboard.

Orchard Road is a 2.2 kilometre-long boulevard and the retail and entertainment destination in Singapore.

An instalment at the Shaw Group-owned Shaw House (on the junction of Scotts Road and Orchard Road) can cost up to 15,000 Singapore Dollars ($10,600)  for just three days, while out-of-home sites at the main atrium at the CapitaMall-owned Plaza Singapura shopping centre in the district can fetch 20,000 Singapore Dollars ($14,200) a week.

515 Keppel Road is also a popular out-of-home spot for advertisers, costing 27,500 Singapore Dollars ($19,500) per week for a minimum of 13 weeks, totalling 357,500 Singapore Dollars ($253,000) for the period. A key advertiser that takes advantage of the position is car manufacturer Volkswagen.

VW Singapore

Mindshare clients to have recently used these coveted sites to get their brand messages across include HSBC and Unilever for its Dove campaigns.

The WPP agency insists that in a country like Singapore, where 5.4 million people cram onto one small island, there is “still huge value in on-ground activation” and its interaction with mobile devices.

James Campbell, head of planning at Mindshare Singapore, says: “This is a huge exciting area for our clients. The challenge is to create something genuinely eye-catching and different on ground that will be shared across the residents’ smartphone screens – the window to the nation’s soul.”

Sharon Soh, managing director of MEC Singapore, adds: “Large format billboards are limited in Singapore due to government restrictions and this site [515 Keppel Road] is perhaps the largest in size. Good for new product launches or new campaign launches where visibility and impact is the key objective.”


South AfricaSouth Africa

Although MediaCom South Africa states that online and digital is becoming an impressive media choice in the country, television is “definitely” the most expensive platform in the territory.

According to the WPP network, the most expensive spot on TV is broadcast on commercial broadcaster SABC 1 during a local soap opera called Generations – costing Rand 230,000 ($17,300) for a 30-second spot.

Advertisers that have used the spot recently include Absa bank, brewer SAB Miller, FMCG giant Unilever, soft drink company Unilever and fast food restaurant KFC.

Claudelle Naidoo, head of insights and new business director, says: “Soap operas (or soapies) are one of the most favourite television programme genres in South Africa.

“Generations is the most popular soapies on South African television reaching a mass (and the largest) audience every day, five days a week, across the middle market (black community) which makes up the bulk of the active consumer market in South Africa – hence the cost of advertising on Generations is the most expensive for advertisers.”Generations

As setting a media strategy becomes even more complex and media networks play risk with emergent platforms – some delivering, some not – there will always be these impressive mass market opportunities to take advantage of. And, although all the agencies included in this feature would battle hard to negotiate far south of the rate card prices mentioned here, some clients have the luxury (or some might say, burden) of being faced with using these premier media spots.

Mass audience still exists, but mainly for those with the deepest pockets.

Latin America

Brazil flagBrazil

Brazil is a market like no other, in that traditional media agencies do not exist and are, in fact, illegal. All buying of media space is conducted through advertising agencies.

In terms of CPM (cost per thousand), cinema is the most expensive medium, around $120. However, in terms of major media placements, the largest prices paid by advertisers are for main sponsorship projects on TV Globo (Rede Globo), including sponsorship for soccer tournaments ($50m), the FIFA World Cup ($50m) and the Olympics ($70m).

Television CPM is one of the lowest due to its massive audience reach (around $3.90).

A 30-second TV spot during the 9pm soap opera on TV Globo costs an estimated U$180,000. TV Globo also receives the majority of ad expenditure of all the commercial television channels in Brazil (65%).

Breaks during soap operas in Brazil are a much disputed position for advertisers. Clients who have used these spots include Nestlé, Coca-Cola and Brazilian bank Bradesco.

Yara Apparicio, vice-president of media at WMcCann Brazil, says: “In Brazil, a country with continental dimension and cultural diversity, television has the highest penetration and geographic coverage. Watching television is a deeply rooted habit in Brazil, especially soap operas, which mobilise people to the extent of emptying the streets during their final episodes.”

Mark Banham


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