TV Ad Spend Weekly: Brands go 'mad' with budgets as NCAA tourneys get underway

State Farm shows us insurance agents can probably read your mind in this week's group of March Madness spots / Kantar Media

Brands continue to invest heavily in above-the-line content, and television is still seen as the place brands want to be. Each week, in partnership with Kantar Media, The Drum looks at which brands have been investing the most on newly-launched creative on US national broadcast and cable TV.

NCAA March Madness kicked off on March 13, and with it came increased ad revenues for networks. From the week of March 12-18, overall national TV advertising expenditures increased by 66% from the previous week, while spend specifically for new ads almost doubled to reach a total of $320m. The NCAA basketball tournament was largely responsible for the incremental spend, with brands spending an estimated $110m on airing new ads during the games, accounting for 34% of all new ad spend.

AT&T, one of the tournament's major sponsors, dropped a modest $19.5m on spots telling wireless plan shoppers that AT&T's thing is helping them find 'your thing.' Samsung knows when AT&T (and Apple) spends big, and it shall too, nearly doubling its rival's ad spend to showcase its new Galaxy S9.

Apple has spruced up the visual direction of its ads, giving each of its newest spots for HomePod and iPhone X devices a lively musical feel. $5.7m was spent for viewers to see spots like the high schooler that can unlock any lock — with her face.

State Farm used 40% of its new ad budget this week to debut the latest in a series of ads featuring NBA players Chris Paul and James Harden, along with actor Oscar Nunez. The commercial sticks with the company’s theme of “Get an agent that gets you,” and features Nunez as State Farm agent Cole Perez who knows Chris Paul so well he can finish his sentences and read his mind, just like his teammates can.

Keeping March Madness in mind, the ad has been placed almost exclusively during NCAA games. So far it has run nationally 43 times, with two occurrences during NBA basketball and the remainder during college games.

See all of the new creative submitted from around the world in The Drum's Creative Works section.

If you have creative work to submit, please upload it here.

This data is part of ongoing reporting released on a weekly basis with Kantar Media using its AdScope tool.

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