The Super Bowl Ad Challenge kicks off

The CMA and CTV are rallying the industry to make big-game ads as good as, or better than, the U.S. Are you up to the challenge?
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CTV has announced more details for the Super Bowl Canadian Ad Challenge it is running in partnership with the Canadian Marketing Association to give recognition to the creative talent of Canada’s advertisers.

First announced during upfronts, CTV has announced the top five ads will each receive one 30-second timeslot during the Super Bowl pre-game show. The grand prize winner will also receive another 30-second spot during the game’s broadcast, a pre-roll unit on CTV.ca and a trip for two to the Super Bowl in Arizona. The winner will be given a CMA award during a presentation for a case study the ad will be included in. Altogether, the grand prize is valued at $207,300.

Entries can be submitted for free from now until Dec. 1. on the Challenge website. The CMA will manage the judging panel, comprised of senior executives in the marketing and advertising industry, to be announced in the fall.

Super Bowl XLVIII, this past February, was the most watched television program of the last two years, earning a combined television audience of eight million viewers between CTV and RDS, with more than half the country tuning in to watch at some point.

Perry MacDonald, VP of conventional sales at Bell Media, says the Super Bowl does, sometimes, present a challenge for advertisers that work with international brands, as they cannot use U.S. creative because of issues ranging from steep rights fees to the product being advertised not being available in Canada.

This fall, as part of the CRTC’s Let’s Talk TV hearings, Canada’s media companies were asked to submit their positions on simultaneous substitution, the practice of replacing American ads with Canadian ones during simultaneous broadcasts. Of the 458 complaints received about the practice last year, 100 related to the Super Bowl, during which most of the attention is placed on American creative.

“Certainly, every year we air the Super Bowl, there’s some disappointment that [viewers] don’t get to see American creative,” MacDonald says. “This is one of the reasons we wanted to do this, but ultimately it is to showcase the creative that comes out here. It can be just as good if not better.”

The challenge is meant to spark a bit of creative competitiveness within the advertising community. “We want to rally the industry to say we are as good as the U.S., let’s infuse some of our award-winning talent into one of the biggest TV events of the year,” said Lucy Collin, VP of marketing and innovation and integrated sales at Bell Media at the time of the announcement. “We are tired of hearing the U.S. get so much profile around their Super Bowl ads.”

MacDonald says the investment into a contest like this – and advertising during the Super Bowl as a whole – may not make sense for everyone’s strategy, but it is a one of a kind opportunity for those that can make it fit with their client’s needs.

While the contest could provide ad space that some smaller companies might not be able to otherwise have access to, the point of the contest is to show off the best creative, regardless of its source.

“Good creative is good creative. It doesn’t matter if it’s coming from a big or small company,” MacDonald says.

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