Critters, celebrities, newcomers play big roles in Super Bowl ads

NEW YORK (AP) Anheuser-Busch Inc., the Super Bowl’s biggest advertiser, stuffed the telecast with critters on Sunday while others used celebrities to get their messages across during TV’s highest profile show.

While Super Bowl rookie Atlanta was beaten 34-19 as Denver won its second consecutive NFL title, several first-time Super Bowl advertisers held up much better against more experienced sponsors. Anheuser-Busch, the St. Louis brewer, ran nine commercials during the Super Bowl, consuming more than five minutes of the 28 minutes of ad time sold in the game.

The Fox TV network said it averaged $1.6 million for each half-minute ad. The network expected 130 million viewers nationwide.

For Budweiser, the brewer had Louie the Lizard informing the Bud frogs that they had all been fired for future ads in the game’s opening commercial. In a second ad, the frogs worked Louie over for having tried to electrocute them in last year’s Super Bowl appearance. In another ad, a lobster headed for a boiling restaurant pot takes a passing bottle of Bud as a hostage and used it to make his escape. A Dalmatian puppy, passed over to be the firehouse mascot, gets the last laugh when it shows up on the corporate beer wagon pulled by Clydesdale horses. And a mouse wearing shades helps a man in another ad get a visit from a beautiful neighbor bearing a Bud Light.

Celebrities were out in force.

Actress Halle Berry drove the new M&Ms Crispy character out of the pool in fear for his life in one ad, Jerry Seinfeld made a fictional cross-country drive for American Express and Cuba Gooding Jr. unintentionally blew up a car in an ad for Pepsi One.

Super Bowl rookies used humor ranging from raucous to subdued.

The World Wrestling Federation had some of its own stars like Stone Cold Steve Austin, Sable and the Undertaker extolling the wide appeal of the WWF’s style of entertainment as executives brawl in the offices, halls and lobby of its headquarters.

Lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret showed off scantily clad models to drum up interest in the first Internet telecast of its annual fashion show.

The Internet jobs site ran an ad that showed a security guard named Dick daydreaming about becoming a corporate mogul, an actor or a scientist only to find what he really wants – a security job at a swanker place where his name tag identified him as Richard.

Apple Computer Inc., whose 1984 commercial introducing the Macintosh is regarded as a classic that made the Super Bowl an ad showcase, appeared on the Super Bowl for the first time in 15 years. Its ad showed the talking computer HAL from “2001: A Space Odyssey” explaining that Macintosh was the only computer to operate perfectly as the year 2000 arrived and other computers malfunctioned.