Doing Super Sunday business

Advertisers make Hail Mary pass as Wall Street eyes Elway Exception

NEW YORK (CNNfn) – Super Bowl Sunday will end with just one winner on the football field – but several when it comes to the financial world. The Super Bowl is a sports landmark, a major social event and very serious business – for those companies advertising on the game broadcast, for companies cashing in on fans attending and watching the game, and for Miami, the host city of the National Football League’s championship game. Pricewaterhouse Coopers reports that last year’s Super Bowl had a $218 million to $295 million impact on San Diego County. The company believes Super Bowl XXXIII, pitting the Denver Broncos against the Atlanta Falcons, can do similar monetary wonders for the Miami area.

“Tickets are going for $350,” says J.M. Colbert, author of Super Bowl Trivia. “You can scalp them for $1,200 to $1,500. When it first started, tickets cost $12 and they couldn’t sell out. But that was 33 years ago and a lot has changed.” And on this day, when, according to the California Avocado Association, 16 million pounds of the pulpy fruit will be turned into guacamole, people will watch the commercials with as much – or more – interest as they watch the game.

“We’ll be right back after these messages-”

David Bloom, strategic planner at Eisner & Associates, speaking on CNNfn’s “Business Day,” says 30 seconds of commercial air time on the Fox Network’s Super Bowl broadcast will cost $1.6 million this year. An estimated 130 million to 140 million people are expected to watch the game on television, and while Bloom says that is down slightly from previous years, the Super Bowl “is still a great place to advertise if you’re a company with some specific objective.”

Bloom cites a survey by his company that shows about 35 percent of adults are expected to talk about the ads during Monday morning quarterbacking sessions around the water cooler.

“A company that’s really trying to increase its awareness can very quickly do it because so many people are watching at one time,” Bloom said. “The gala around the Super Bowl ads has become so well known I’ve observed parties where people actually are quieter during the ads than they are during the game.”

Among the companies advertising during the Super Bowl are Just For Feet Inc. (FEET), a national athletic and outdoor footwear retailer, and bank holding company First Union Corp. (FTU). “Obviously this means increased exposure for Just For Feet,” says Marcia Aaron, analyst for BT Alex. Brown. “This can put them on the map.”

And while it may be a little strange for a bank to advertise during the Super Bowl, Bloom says First Union can see nice dividends from the experience. “First Union is the sixth largest bank in this country,” he says. “However, their awareness is not in the top six.” Bloom also says Internet sites and will run commercials during the game, “literally launching their company and introducing them to the nation with a Super Bowl ad.” Some unusual advertisers for the game are the World Wrestling Federation and the lingerie retailer Victoria’s Secret.

“Victoria’s Secret is aiming at both men and women,”Bloom says, “and they’ve already been successful becausea lot of people are talking about the fact that they’re going tobe on.” Colbert says the Victoria’s Secret spot will also tie in to the lingerie company’s online catalog. “This is the time when everybody makes the big splurge,” she says. “There’s an angle for everyone. The Super Bowl is the first time to have a real big party since Christmas and New Year’s.”

Colbert says the advertising hoopla probably dates back to the Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL) MacIntosh commercial way back in 1984. That elaborately produced ad, which evoked Orwellian images, helped boost sales of the then-new computer. The Elway Exception

Wall Street keeps a superstitious eye on the big game since, according to the Super Bowl Stock Market Theory , the market will rise only if an original member of the National Football League wins. That theory was sacked last year when quarterback John Elway led the Denver Broncos, a original member of the American Football League that was absorbed into the NFL in the mid-1960s, to victory over the Green Bay Packers.

“This is one of the great correlations,” says Ronald Hill, partner and equity strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman.”People used to watch this religiously (and) still do.” Hill, speaking on CNNfn’s “Before Hours”, says Denver’s win caused people to worry about the stock market. But then, he says, the so-called “Elway Exception” kicked in and the bull market continued. “I think the stock market (will) continue high no matter who wins,” Hill says, “because of excess liquidity, steady growth and rising profits.”