Why Did Monmouth University Run a Super Bowl Commercial?

The “central Jersey” school scored a last-minute deal on a local Super Bowl ad on Fox 29. A spokeswoman said the expenditure was well worth it.

It was last Thursday when Tara Peters decided she was going to do it. Just like that, Monmouth University had a Super Bowl commercial.

Right before the second half of the Super Bowl, viewers tuned in to FOX 29 in the Philadelphia area saw an ad for Monmouth that featured the men’s basketball team.

Peters — Monmouth’s associate vice president of university marketing and communications, and a 1994 graduate of the school — thought about buying the ad spot all week. The deciding factor was what you might expect: money.

“There ended up being a break in price because we committed so late,” Peters tells Philadelphia magazine. She wouldn’t share how much the Super Bowl ad cost, but said the school used its existing marketing budget.

Local stations generally get several blocks of ads to sell themselves during NFL games: A minute before kickoff, two minutes at the end of each quarter and at halftime, and a minute after the game ends. They’ll begin selling these for the Super Bowl around July and August, which is when major local advertisers — auto dealers, insurance and communications companies — make their NFL sports buys. Sometimes ad space comes open at the last minute. A booked ad might have been canceled, or maybe it had something to do with the Fox network rejecting a longer version of an 84 Lumber ad earlier in the week. (Fox 29 didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.)

Peters pointed to a series of connections Monmouth had to the Super Bowl that also pushed the school to run an ad. Some of the connections are direct: Patriots wide receiver Chris Hogan played one season of college football at Monmouth (after three seasons of lacrosse at Penn State). Others are more tenuous: A Monmouth alumnus won a contest to sleep over at NRG Stadium the night before the Super Bowl. He received that prize from Monmouth grad and former NFL wide receiver Miles Austin.

The school says the money used on the Super Bowl ad was well spent. Peters said the Super Bowl offers about 2.3 million impressions in the Philadelphia market. The ad got more than 46,000 Facebook views and shares and more than 61,000 Twitter engagements in the 12 hours after it aired.

“Our goals were to create awareness, to enhance reputation, to build pride for Monmouth University, and I would say we did that,” Peters says. “We checked every box, and we did it in a way that was consistent with our budget.”

But why Philadelphia? Though you might think of Monmouth as a North Jersey school, Peters says there are “double digit percentages” of both current student body and alumni from the Philadelphia market.

“We’re central Jersey,” Peters says. “We are sandwiched right on the border of North and South. In our area you’ll see Giants stuff and Eagles stuff. You’ll see Rangers and Flyers. We really are right smack in the middle.”