Notable Super Bowl ad debuts include a certain pill or two
By Monty Phan
Come Sunday, you can expect to see the usual array of advertisers appearing during breaks in the Super Bowl: Spots for beer, cars and chips all will be there.
But so will the unexpected. At least two pharmaceutical companies plan on pitching pills meant to treat something that’s not thought of in quite the same way as beer, cars or chips: erectile dysfunction. So along with your Budweiser, Cadillac and Lay’s, you’ll also get Cialis and Levitra. And if that’s not enough, Viagra also may make an appearance during the game, although Pfizer, the drug’s maker, isn’t saying either way.
It’s the first time impotency drugs have aired during the Super Bowl, and it comes at a time when both Cialis and Levitra, which is an official NFL sponsor, are trying to grab market share away from leader Viagra.
Cialis, which is marketed jointly by Eli Lilly and ICOS Corp., will air a 60-second spot that plans to inform people what the drug treats and how it’s used, something neither Levitra nor Viagra has done in TV ads. Levitra, which is marketed by Bayer and GlaxoSmithKline, plans a 30-second spot.
Marketers will spend a record $2.3 million per 30 seconds of advertising time during the game, which will be broadcast by CBS. Last year, ABC received about $2.2 million per 30-second spot, and, the year before, Fox got a bit less than $2 million.
“We look at our target audience, and a lot of them will be watching the Super Bowl,” said Khoso Baluch, Eli Lilly’s executive director. “This was just an opportunity to use this platform to launch full branded consumer advertisements.”
Those won’t be the only Super Bowl first-timers. Staples will build on its “Staples. That was easy” tag line with a 30-second spot starring Joe Viterelli, the rotund actor typically typecast as a mobster in such films as “Analyze This.” Procter & Gamble also makes its Super Sunday debut with a 30-second commercial for Charmin.
America Online is paying for its largest presence ever at the game, with three spots during the Super Bowl, two spots before it and sponsorship of the halftime show. The ads will promote the Internet provider’s Top Speed service, which is designed to improve the company’s dial-up and broadband access. The series of spots during the game features the Teutul family, stars of the Discovery Channel series “American Chopper,” and their humorous attempts to demonstrate Top Speed’s attributes by mistakenly using the technology to soup up a 1964 Chevy Nova, said Len Short, AOL’s executive vice president of Brand Marketing.
“We’re not concerned about getting new members,” Short said of the campaign. “We’re making sure the people we’re serving aren’t interested in getting anybody else.”
Of course, the Super Bowl can hardly exist without Budweiser and Pepsi, two brands that usually air multiple ads during the game and will do so again this year. Pepsi plans on promoting its new partnership with computer-maker Apple’s iTunes Internet music store; the promotion involves a free music giveaway on special Pepsi products, and the ad stars people recently sued by the recording industry for alleged copyright infringement.
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