Sunday, February 6, 2011

Do KVVU's Station Ads Violate NFL #SuperBowl Policy?

UPDATE: On Twitter, the R-J's Howard Stutz says he saw one of the Station ads and they don't show gambling or building exteriors. Did Station cut ads specifically to be NFL-compliant?

According to this morning's Review-Journal, Station Casinos is launching a massive marketing campaign that kicks off with this newspaper wrap to your left and five 30-second, $72,000 spots during today's Super Bowl.

What the R-J didn't bother to explore is whether today's $360,000 TV buy violates the NFL's big ban on advertising of Vegas casinos during the Super Bowl nationally or in any local market. To wit, here's their policy, as of Dec. 2009:

We notified our network partners that we will not object to ads airing during our games for any tourism destination, including Las Vegas.

We consider it a reasonable modification of our policy that still protects our interests.

Only tourism destinations (e.g., Nevada, Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe) are permitted. The prohibition of ads for specific hotels, casinos and other institutions that house gambling will remain in place. Ads may not contain any gambling references or imagery. For example, an ad for Las Vegas tourism with footage of slot machines, dice, cards, or a wide shot of Vegas strip and casinos would not be permitted. However, an ad for Las Vegas tourism with pictures of golf, swimming pools, and performers would be ok.

The content of the ads must comply with the networks’ standards and practices and also meet our standards for being suitable for a mass audience.

That doesn't say anything about advertising during local air time, but R&R Partners veep Rob Dondero told me last week for my AOL News piece on the topic that that, too, is forbidden. In fact, R&R, which manages the $70 million campaign for the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority, said they did an end-run around the NFL's national Vegas/casino ban on advertising by buying time on local affiliates. The NFL got pissed, he said, and this year for the first time the local affiliates didn't even call to try to solicit Vegas business. (Local ad sellers frequently are unaware of the NFL's rules, Dondero said.)

This matters because KVVU will enjoy one of the largest Super Bowl viewerships in the nation, owing to the influx of some 300,000 tourists watching on the local feed across the city. Of course, they're here to gamble anyway so perhaps that's a lost cause and not worth the NFL's enforcement muscle. But keep in mind how furious NFL brass were last year when images of the Monte Carlo and the Strip sneaked into this spot:

I've got a call and email out to NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy to see if the Station buy breaks the rules. Will update as appropriate, but I suspect he's mighty busy today.

As for me, I don't need Station Casinos to encourage me; I'm off to place my annual Super Bowl bet at Boulder Station, as always. Still really torn; now thinking of going for the Packers and the under. Which is exactly opposite of what I planned on earlier this week. Ugh.