Super Bowl Will Sport Clever Ads

By Frazier Moore AP Television Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Other than the usual complaints that the Super Bowl was boring, EDS Corp. hopes the nation’s watercooler chatter Monday will focus on … cat herding.

If every office resounds with someone’s imitation of the advertising line, “Herdin’ cats — don’t let anybody tell ya it’s easy,” then EDS will know it got a good buy for the roughly $4.4 million it’s paying to air its goofy commercial on Sunday’s Super Bowl.

Exactly what the 60-second spot is trying to say about EDS may be a mystery to most viewers. The company, which manages computer systems for industry and government, is by no means a household name and its ad says little about its business. A parody of John Ford westerns with a nod toward Marlboro Country, the spot depicts weathered cowpokes driving hundreds of cats across the plains.

It’s hilarious. And for a company like EDS (“managing the complexities of e-business,” according to the commercial’s tag), getting viewers’ attention and getting them to talk ain’t hay.

Other Super Bowl sponsors will be after the same thing: a little attention.

Unlike EDS, everybody knows what Budweiser is. Rather than make claims about superior taste, one of the three commercials will continue a campaign to tie the product to an attention-getting catchphrase, “Whasssssssup?”

And whasssssssup? According to the commercial, a perfect combo: “Watching the game, having a Bud.”

Another Bud spot plays good citizen. Grabbing a buddy’s keys, retired hockey star Wayne Gretsky volunteers to drive his chum home from the bar in what turns out to be a Zamboni (one of those vehicles used to clean ice). Only when we see it do we realize that his buddy is a rink tender.

“Surprising how well this thing handles,” Gretsky says as they chug down the street.

The third Bud spot shows a dapper fellow being called away from a black-tie affair to his stable, where, never even changing from his evening duds, he helps deliver a foal.

“Congratulations, fella,” the gentleman vet says to the new “dad,” a Clydesdale proudly prancing about in the corral.

Those are the only words spoken during the spot and never is the product shown. But the message equates Budweiser with sophistication, prosperity and manliness, chased with a bracing “awwwwwwww!”

The sell is harder, yet the approach zanier, in a spot for the Web site.

Two mucky-mucks from some blue-chip firm are entertaining a job prospect at their club. Over cigars and brandy, the boss intones, “Nobody can beat our offer.”

But the job prospect is a human-size HotJobs trademark — a giant hand with raised index finger. The hand retorts, “Stanley, please,” then reels off rival offers that make “your starting salary look like cab fare.”

“You know what?” says Stanley. “I don’t like you. But I’ll give you what you want.”

Tag: “All the best jobs and the tools to find ’em,” as a hand scorches itself on the smoking HotJobs logo — yeow!

Ads like that can sure score in a boring football game, even if a viewer doesn’t need a new job.