BET Awards advertising inventory sells out in record time

After a depressed awards season that boosted long-standing ratings earlier this year, the BET Awards have become a relatively popular commodity among advertisers, with the event celebrating black entertainment selling faster than never, even with more ad spaces to fill.

It comes as brands have re-examined their reach to various audiences over the past year with a critical focus. In the wake of the police murder of George Floyd and subsequent attention to social justice and racial equity in the United States, advertisers pledged to end systemic racism, ranging from monetary donations to minority-led groups to reorganize advertising strategies to better encompass multicultural channels.

Louis Carr, president of media sales at BET Networks, believes that brands “really understand” the importance of speaking directly to black audiences in 2021 in a focused and meaningful way, offering a partial explanation for the new interest of advertisers in the BET Awards. “They want to be ‘part of the family,’ he says.

“This will be our BET Awards, or as we call it, the Black Super Bowl. And clearly, the customers lined up as before, ”says Carr.

Advertising inventory for this year’s BET Awards, which air on Sunday, sold out in record time, Carr said, with the original airtime listing completely vanishing in mid-May. “We generally wouldn’t sell our inventory until the end of June” in a pre-pandemic schedule, he adds, with ad units historically available until award week.

Huge demand from artists who expressed interest in performing at the annual awards ceremony forced BET to extend the length of the three-hour program by half an hour to accommodate a star artist lineup including Migos, Megan Thee Stallion, Lil Nas X, ELLE, Tyler, The Creator and more.

But even the ad inventory that came with an extra 30 minutes of programming was quickly picked up by enthusiastic advertisers, with Carr confirming that the long-running BET Awards have been 100% ad unit exhausted since the start of this week.

Several long-time BET advertisers will return this year, many with “extensive inventory purchases and integrations,” Carr said.

These brands include Procter & Gamble, the night’s biggest advertiser, with several spots related to its “Widen the Screen” campaign; Unilever with a place in favor of the CROWN Act, a bill to ban racial discrimination based on hair; Nissan with a campaign focused on the next generation of hip-hop; and Walmart, which highlights a partnership with award-winning artist Andra Day.

The BET Awards also have 10 first-time advertisers appearing at this year’s event, double what the program normally attracts. Red Bull, LinkedIn, the National Basketball Association, Adobe, and the US Department of Health and Human Services, among the 2021 class of entry-level advertisers.