BBDO may create up to 24 ads for Super Bowl

By Theresa Howard


They might not like football but they’ve certainly got game.

Ted Sann, co-CEO and chief creative officer of BBDO, prefers basketball. And Bill Katz, co-CEO and president, doesn’t cheer for any NFL team. But they’ve been huge Super Bowl fans for 16 years. As the Ravens and the Giants prepare, Sann and Katz are plotting their own strategy: They have seven clients with 8.5 of the 30 available minutes of ad time in the game.

The New York agency’s trademark is entertainment and celebrities, a combination that scores with viewers. The shop has won USA TODAY’s exclusive Super Bowl Ad Meter polling six times.

This year, however, marks a creative milestone: BBDO may create as many as 24 ads in and around Sunday’s game. Katz says half of BBDO’s staff of 900 is involved.

“We started this process 6 months ago,” Sann says. “Everyone knows what’s at stake. This year, we have an enormous number of clients. But we almost always end up in this place. It’s insane right now. It’s essentially 24 hours a day.”

Here’s the client roster:

* Cingular Wireless will mark its brand debut with several spots, including one with NFL players.

* FedEx will unveil a campaign in a 30-second spot.

* Frito-Lay features model Ali Landry in her third Doritos turn. And there’ll be a spot for its Super Bowl “tickets for life” sweepstakes.

* M&M/Mars has a spot built around its Internet vote for the most annoying phrase of 2000.

* Pepsi-Cola will use 3 minutes of airtime to unveil “The Joy of Pepsi” campaign and tout either Diet Pepsi or PepsiOne. One spot is expected to star Bob Dole.

* Visa has one 30-second ad.

* Charles Schwab will have new “Smarter Investor” ads, a celebrity-laden campaign that breaks down financial jargon.

* Pizza Hut, likely to have two pregame spots, will pitch the chain’s popular stuffed crust.

It’s a wide range of clients, but includes no dot-com start-ups.

“You need the right reasons to advertise in (the) Super Bowl,” Sann says of this year’s heavy-hitter lineup vs. last year’s dot-com bowl. “You have to have a strong branding position and want to reach a huge audience. Last year, people were sucked in by, where the only aim was to get the name out there. A tactic became a strategy, and you can’t build a business on that.”

While most BBDO clients are vets, Cingular, a wireless venture of SBC and Bell South, will be introduced in the game.

“We’re introducing a new name and brand image to the world. This has got to be different than everything,” Katz says.