For many, the Super Bowl is an event that absolutely has to be watched. Sitting around with a plate full of wings, a bottle of brew and a napkin just in case things get messy, an estimated 130 million people watch the game in America alone.
But some of these people are not out to see the on-field action. Instead they wish a commercial break would come on soon, so they can watch a different kind of Super Bowl extravaganza – the advertisements.
The surge in Super Bowl ads began about a decade and a half ago, when Macintosh aired an ad of a woman throwing a hammer at a big screen TV. From then on, ad firms have been clamoring to produce unforgettable ads that will air during the game in hopes of scoring a touchdown.
Sunday’s Super Bowl, broadcast by CBS had many airtime slots for ads – over 80, according to our count. A testament to the failed dot com industry was the number of dot coms that vied to broadcast an advert this year. Compared to last year’s 17 dot com companies, Super Bowl XXXV had only three dot com companies-Monster.com, E*Trade.com, and HotJobs.com-companies that seemed to have weathered the yo-yoing of the NASDAQ.
As Joseph Abruzzese, president for network sales at CBS told The New York Times, “There are no ‘flaky’ clients [this year]. They’re all bona fide, real marketer clients.”
Airtime slots of 30-seconds were sold at an estimated average cost of $2.3 million. With these high costs at a time the economy is slowing down, there was speculation that not many airtime slots had been sold. However, all possible problems seemed to have been resolved, as there was a full line-up of ads broadcast.
A company known as Accenture had many ads with its’ tag line: “Now it gets interesting,” after showing fantastical events taking place. Cingular Wireless reminded viewers of the art of self-expression. One advert that hit that mark was King Gimp-a disabled man barely able to speak or move-using painting as his form of expression.
The steely Anheuser Busch bought a generous amount of airtime, with many ads for Budweiser and Bud Light. They also had another commercial during halftime which had the pop sensation ‘N Sync reminding parents to teach their children about under-aged drinking. That ad upped the ‘N Sync quotient of the game to somewhere in the upper stratosphere.
PepsiCo, the soda oligopoly ran a variety of Pepsi ads. Interestingly, none starred the “Pepsi Girl” otherwise known as Hallie Eisenberg. Instead, Bob Dole – promoter of Viagra endorsed the blue can with a very Viagra-like commercial. Meanwhile, chess champion Garry Kasparov, struggled with a vending machine after having defeated a computer at chess.
From the credit card companies, MasterCard left a greater impression as gravity, the letter B and the color red were auctioned off. Visa International, another giant in this industry didn’t have any commercials that stood out.
The automobile industry saturated the airwaves with their endless supply of ads dedicated to different cars. The Pontiac Grand Am, Dodge Caravan, Acura MDX and VW GTI were among those cars which were given airtime. Ford had one advert toward the end of the game, but it did not stand out as much as the others.
Interestingly, there were many anti-smoking adverts. The American Legacy Foundation used real peoples’ stories to illustrate the harmful effects of smoking. United Way, urged people to make a difference in children’s lives, and gave an example of Santana Dotson from the NFL’s Green Bay Packers playing cards with small children.
A new innovation in television that has also been used by NBC’s new program Dateline, was the interactivity allowed. PepsiCo asked viewers to choose their most favorite Pepsi Super Bowl ad, and to vote on yahoo.com. At the end of the game, the online survey concluded that a Cindy Crawford ad mentioning the new look of Pepsi was chosen as the most popular one.