Posted February 8, 2005 by Nick Lindauer in Makers

Tabasco Super Bowl Ad

Advocate business writer

This year’s Super Bowl ad blitz will have a south Louisiana flavor, when Tabasco makes its first appearance at the game since 1998.

The company will introduce a new ad, called Tan Lines, early in the second half of Sunday’s football game.

Paul McIlhenny, president and chief executive officer of the McIlhenny Co., which makes Tabasco, said the commercial is a secret, but it will feature “a pretty gal on the beach, Tabasco and great music.”

A nationwide 30-second spot during the Super Bowl is costing advertisers an average of $2.4 million. That high price keeps Tabasco from running spots every year.

“We don’t sell a product that has frequent turnover,” McIlhenny said. “The real reason for running an ad is to keep our iconic brand name first and foremost in the minds of the consumer.”

When Tabasco ran a spot during the Super Bowl seven years ago, McIlhenny said the company registered a sales jump.

In that ad, called “Mosquito,” the insect explodes in a fireball after sucking the blood of a man using the Avery Island company’s pepper sauce.

McIlhenny wouldn’t disclose the amount of the sales increase, but said it wasn’t enough to cover the cost of the ad.

Fox, which is broadcasting the game nationally, is reaping most of the advertising windfall. But network affiliates are also seeing the benefits of the game.

“This is the premier American sporting event,” said Vince Barresi, general manager of Fox 44 WGMB-TV, which will air the Super Bowl locally. “So many of our advertisers want to participate. We wish we had a lot more time.”

WGMB-TV can sell 13 30-second commercials during the Super Bowl itself. Barresi said most all of those spots have been sold, except for “two or three.”

Those remaining spots may be used by WGMB-TV to promote syndicated shows or other Fox programming.

“That time is valuable to advertisers, but it’s equally as valuable to the station,” he said.

Some of the businesses who bought local advertising time during the Super Bowl are General Motors, Alltel, Metro Airport, U.S. Agencies and Jack In the Box, Barresi said.

Barresi wouldn’t say how much WGMB-TV is charging for an advertisement during the game, but said the local commercials will be a “significant, significant source of revenue” for the station.

“There’s a huge audience for the Super Bowl and there’s a residual effect,” he said. “It’s hard to put a dollar value on how much the game means for us.”

The Super Bowl is traditionally the most-watched television event of the year. According to Nielsen Media Research, four of the 10 biggest television audiences ever were for Super Bowl games.

Nick Lindauer

The Original Hot Sauce Blog