Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Business English - Talking about Sports & Advertising

Well here we are in December and the economic picture hasn't gotten any prettier! Time to talk more about the language of spending, saving, and cost cutting. If there is one thing big American companies love to spend money on, it's buying advertisements in the Super Bowl - the big football game that takes place every winter (this year the 43rd annual game will take place on February 1). Why do companies love to advertise during the Super Bowl game? Because millions of people watch the game and because the commercials end up getting tons of analysis and attention -- shown afterwards by other TV shows, posted on the Internet, and discussed in newspapers. Also, companies advertise on the Super Bowl to show that they're in a good financial position (they can afford to spend big money on the ad).

But this year -- the year of our great millenial Depression -- demand for Super Bowl ads is lower than usual. Surprise! Here's the start of a November 11 article in the Wall Street Journal, with the business expressions we'll focus on highlighed in blue:

With advertising rates for the Super Bowl running as high as $3 million for a 30-second spot, some marketers are wondering whether during these tough economic times they can afford the big game.

FedEx, a loyal Super Bowl advertiser, still hasn't decided if it will buy in. FedEx is concerned that shelling out big bucks -- at a time when it's "asking employees to do more with less" -- will look "wrong," says a person close to the company.

"Companies have to be mindful that jumping into the game can open them up to criticism," this person says.

The Memphis, Tenn., package-delivery giant is holding out to see if it can get a bargain.

FedEx's hesitation is raising eyebrows on Madison Avenue because it has advertised in 12 of the past National Football League championship games.


30-second spot - a 30-second commercial. Typically commercials are either 15 seconds or 30 seconds in length.

shelling out - to pay a lot of money for something; to pay more than you would like for something

big bucks - a lot of money

(to) hold out for - to wait to buy something to see if one can get a lower price

raising eyebrows - creating alarm; stirring fears, worry or suspicion

Madison Avenue - where New York's major advertising agencies are located - so "Madison Avenue" is now often used to refer to the advertising industry in general