Fulton Homes CEO Doug Fulton was rooting for Bret Favre and the Minnesota Vikings to win Sunday's NFL playoff game. Not because of any special fondness for Favre, but because Favre playing in the Super Bowl would mean more people would tune in and see the builder's 30-second local commercial during the game.
"I just wish Favre were playing," said Fulton.
Vikings or Saints, the Tempe, Ariz.-based builder's TV spot would air during the game in the Tempe Valley and northern Arizona areas as it has for nine out of the last 10 years, despite the fact that the builder has been under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for a year.
"We booked early so we got a better deal and committed no matter who was going [to the game]," said Fulton, adding the company will air commercials on local television before and after the game as well.
"We are guaranteed a 45% market share" of television viewers in the local TV market, he said, and the number is multiplied because so many people watch the game in groups at bars as well as in homes.
Without saying exactly how much commercial time during the game costs, he confirmed that it's in the $50,000 to $60,000 price range, down from $100,000 before the economic downturn.
Production costs for the commercial are likely to outstrip the costs of the television time, he said.
"You're sandwiched between million-dollar productions of the Fords, or Pepsi, or Coke," he said. "You can't produce a cheesy commercial."
This year, people dressed as houses are out on a local high school football field playing. The Fulton house is colorful while the others are drab.
The builder will make full use of the production, reusing it during the spring selling season on television, on the Internet, and in print.
The Super Bowl advertisements have always paid off for the company, said Fulton, who had no trouble getting approval for the advertisements, despite the company's bankruptcy status because he provided his own debtor in possession financing.
"It's also a real morale booster for the employees too," said Fulton. "When they're watching the game they tell everybody, 'Hey, that's my company.'"
Despite the reorganization, by surviving Fulton has gained market share. "At one point [during the year] we had 7% market share," he said. "At the end of the year we had 5%."
The company closed 550 homes last year and expects to do about the same volume this year.
"Of course that's a far cry from 2005," he said.