Souped-up ads were name of game during Super Bowl
Lobster, mouse and 2 pups helped peddle products
By Skip Wollenberg AP business writer
NEW YORK – Add a desperate lobster, a goggled mouse and two cute pups to the cast of critters that Super Bowl advertisers pressed into service in hopes of catching the eye of TV’s biggest yearly audience.
Celebrities, musical scores and the Internet also played a role in the ads on this year’s telecast, which saw Denver trounce Atlanta 34-19 for its second consecutive National Football League championship title. More than 30 advertisers paid an average of $1.6 million for each half-minute commercial slot on Sunday’s telecast, according to executives at Fox Broadcasting Co. That was up 23 percent from last year’s record $1.3 million.
Sponsors were expecting about 130 million people to tune in for at least part of the telecast, which usually delivers the biggest audience of the year for any single program. Anheuser-Busch Inc., the nation’s biggest brewer and the Super Bowl’s biggest advertiser, introduced new critters to go along with its familiar frogs and lizards.
A lobster headed for a restaurant’s boiling pot grabbed a bottle of Budweiser and used it to keep the chef and others at bay while he crawled out the door in a Bud ad. And a Dalmatian puppy passed over as the new firehouse dog has the last laugh on his sibling in another Bud ad when they pass two years later – the rejected pup now rides on the beer wagon pulled by Clydesdale horses.
The mouse in goggles appeared in a Bud Light ad in which a man sends him flying into the next apartment, where it drives the pretty neighbor to the man’s place with a six-pack. The brewer, which ran nine commercials that consumed more than five of the 28 minutes in the telecast, ran two ads featuring Louie the Lizard and the Bud frogs he tried to electrocute in last year’s Super Bowl telecast. In one ad, Louie tells the frogs all three of them have been fired and is shocked the frogs can speak fluently. In the second ad, the frogs work Louie over. “Slap the punk,” one frog encourages the other.
Anheuser-Busch marketers say they expect to retire the frogs and lizard characters this year before their popularity wears thin. Celebrities were in several ads. Actress Halle Berry swam after the new M&Ms Crispy character in one ad, Jerry Seinfeld made a fictional cross-country drive for American Express, Jon Lovitz posed as the phone book author for Yellow Pages Publishers and Cuba Gooding Jr. unintentionally blew up a car in an ad for Pepsi One.
Frito-Lay Inc. featured former Miss USA Ali Landry for a second consecutive Super Bowl appearance for Doritos, this time setting off the library sprinkler system as she eats the new barbecue variety. The World Wrestling Federation had its own stars Stone Cold Steve Austin, Sable and the Undertaker extol WWF entertainment as executives brawled on a “typical day” at its headquarters.
The Oldsmobile division of General Motors Corp. made its Super Bowl debut with an ad whose hip-hop musical track alone made it clear that Olds wants to reach a younger audience.