Comedian Drew Carey to score with Frito-Lay ads, TV special

Comedian Drew Carey is teaming with Frito-Lay and the National Football League to offer the ultimate goody for fans: free Super Bowl tickets — for life.

The “Find the Winning Plays” consumer promotion kicks off New Year’s Eve and runs through CBS’ broadcast of Super Bowl XXXV on Jan. 28.

The star of ABC’s The Drew Carey Show appears in a $6 million ad campaign supporting the promotion, along with retired Super Bowl quarterbacks John Elway and Jim Kelly. In return, Frito-Lay sponsors Carey’s pay-per-view special on Jan. 27: a live version of Carey’s improv show, Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Consumers will watch the game to collect over 35 million prizes ranging from NFL hats to the grand prize of a pair of tickets to the big game for life.

“This is a good business model for anybody who does something similar (to his pay-per-view) in the future,” Carey told USA TODAY from the set of the ad shoot in Los Angeles. “Having a sponsor takes the onus off our show — and allows us to do more production.”

Elway says Carey’s Everyman image fits perfectly with football and chips. “He looks like a guy that will sit around, throw a Super Bowl party and have some chips with it.”

Details of the promotional deal: Doritos serves as title sponsor of Carey’s PPV special on Super Bowl eve featuring Kathy Kinney and other cast members of Whose Line Is It Anyway? Frito-Lay plugs the show with in-store displays in over 13,000 stores. In return, Carey will work Doritos into one of his skits. “Pay-per-views are a hard sell: Boxing and wrestling are the only things that do well,” Carey says. “With a sponsor, you can reach more people.” The Cleveland native says he endorses only products he uses, such as Doritos and DirecTV.

Does he worry the product tie-in will turn off fans? “Are you kidding? I don’t think viewers even care.”

The promotion offers consumers a “1-in-2 chance of winning,” says Richard Glover, Frito-Lay’s vice president of marketing.

Thirty-five million game cards will be spread through 70 million bags of Doritos, Ruffles, Tostitos and Fritos starting the week of Dec. 31. Consumers match their cards with key plays from the actual game. The lifelong ticket is “the ultimate prize for sports fans,” says Al Merrin, BBDO executive creative director.

The TV commercial by ad agency BBDO of New York pokes fun at the win-loss records for Elway and Kelly in the Super Bowl. The spot shows the trio playing the game at Carey’s Super Bowl “party.” Naturally, Elway (2-3) wins big. Kelly says he’s “good-natured” about his 0-4 Super Bowl record. But he still asked to see the storyboards before giving his OK.

“I wouldn’t have done it if it poked too much fun,” jokes Kelly. Carey gets five seconds at the end of the spot to plug his PPV special.