Super Bowl Blowout
By DON KAPLAN
WITHOUT the Jets or the Giants in the Super Bowl this year, some of the best moments during Sunday’s big game could be the overpriced commercials.
“Not only is it the Super Bowl of football,” said ad expert Paul Schulman, “but it’s the Super Bowl of advertising.”
From Victoria’s Secret to Jerry Seinfeld’s 60-second return to network TV (for American Express), 30 companies will air ads during the game. Each 30-second spot will cost a staggering $1.6 million.
The biggest spender is Anheuser-Busch, maker of Budweiser and Bud Light. The company – the only beer advertiser in this year’s game – is said to be dropping about $16 million on a total of five minutes of ad time.
Industry experts say some of the most eye-catching commercials ever made were created especially for this annual TV event. “Apple Computer invented Super Bowl advertising in 1984, with a commercial called 1984,” said Bradley Johnson, the Los Angeles Bureau chief for Advertising Age magazine. Apple – which hasn’t been seen on the Super Bowl since 1985 – will be back this year with a spot claiming Apple is immune from the Y2K problem and featuring the talking computer HAL from the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Hal reminds the astronaut Dave that “computers began to misbehave” in the year 2000, creating a “global economic disruption” because they were not programmed to recognize the millennium. But HAL says Macintosh models alone worked perfectly and asks, “You like your Macintosh better than me, don’t you, Dave?”
The World Wrestling Federation crashes into the Super Bowl for the first time this year to provide a look at a “typical” day at its offices. Bodies fly through windows and office partitions. In the midst of the chaos, WWF stars such as the Undertaker, the Rock, Sable and Stone Cold Steve Austin calmly try to dispel “misperceptions” about violence and sex during WWF matches.
The most surprising newcomer is Victoria’s Secret. The lingerie company’s spot opens by saying the two Super Bowl teams won’t be seen in the ads, but “you won’t care.” It then shows several models in sexy outfits from last year’s runway show.
Jerry Seinfeld, the longtime pitchman for American Express, travels cross-country from the apartment-set of his hit show “Seinfeld” in Los Angeles to his real home here in New York.
Philips Electronics is going to be making its Super Bowl debut with a spot that features Austin Powers, the International Man of Mystery, and HDTV technology. “A guy takes a girl on a movie date in his convertible,” Johnson said. “He drives across the street to his garage, opens the door and magically there is 64-inch Philips HDTV set.” Inside the garage they watch the new Austin Powers movie, “The Spy Who Shagged Me.”
But at the end of the day, no matter which team wins the Super Bowl, Fox will end up scoring the greatest jackpot of all: close to $150 million, the biggest single pay day in TV history.