Super Bowl XLVII will go down in history not just because it was an exciting game, but because of the blackout that halted play for over a half hour. It also concerned executives at CBS who were worried that advertising commitments might not be met.
CBS chose to run promos for their own shows during the break and reran a commercial break containing ads from Bud Light and Subway once play resumed. There was concern that ratings for the back half of the game could be threatened, and if so, push some advertisers to seek compensation.
Worries likely lessened, since the game became close and finished 34-31 with the Ravens coming out on top. Still, the interruption disrupted the momentum of sponsors like Coca-Cola, which was airing the second part of an ad first shown in the second quarter during the post game.
Some of the more clever advertisers took advantage of the blackout on social media, where there was plenty of chatter. Audi tweeted that it was "sending some LEDS to the @MBUSA Superdome right now" while Oreo posted a picture on Twitter telling users how the cookie was fun to dunk in the dark and Procter & Gamble's Tide tweeted, "We can't get your #blackout, but we can get your stains out."
It isn't immediately clear what recourse advertisers might have, if any. CBS is likely contractually obligated to air their commercials at a specific point in the game -- and it continued to do just that as game play resumed. What's more, a network doesn't have an easy way to provide a "make good," or extra ad inventory provided to make up for a ratings shortfall, simply because the ratings for the Super Bowl are so outsize that the network would have to run a sponsor's ads again and again across its regular schedule to cobble together a similar viewership.
"Immediately after the power failure in the Superdome, we lost numerous cameras and some audio powered by sources in the Superdome," said CBS Sports spokeswoman Jen Sabatelle. "We utilized CBS's back-up power and at no time did we leave the air. During the interruption, CBS Sports' Steve Tasker, Solomon Wilcots and our studio team reported on the situation as a breaking news story, providing updates and reports while full power was being restored to the dome including our sets and broadcast booth."
Coca-Cola was more worried that #CokeChase tied into their was trending nationally before the blackout, but fell off afterwards. "The blackout is not our conversation to have," said Laura Houghton, senior social-media manager at Coca-Cola.
However, things looked up for Coca-Cola as ratings soared late. By the beginning of the fourth quarter, the brand had reached 7.5 million interactions.