Traditional firms back at Super Bowl


When an estimated 130 million viewers gather in front of the television to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday, many in the audience will be as interested in the the flashy advertisements as in the football game.

As TV’s most-watched event, the Super Bowl is advertising’s premier showcase – and sponsorship this year reflects the changing economy.

Gone is the deluge of dot-com companies that paid an average $2.2 million, and as much as $3 million, for a 30-second spot last year in Atlanta. Many of those firms – including,, and – are on more frugal spending plans or have gone out of business, the victims of the dot-com shakeout.

Only three of the 17 Internet advertisers from the 2000 Super Bowl are back in this year’s game: the online job sites and, and the Web stockbroker E-Trade Group Inc. Advertising experts said too many of last year’s dot-com advertisers spent their wad on the Super Bowl, and then disappeared without follow-through on a marketing plan.

In place of dot-coms on Sunday will be a more traditional lineup of advertisers for Super Bowl XXXV – Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc., PepsiCo Inc., Visa International Inc., Federal Express Corp., Johnson & Johnson, and International Business Machines Corp. Levi Strauss Co. and Volkswagen of America will appear for the first time, and MasterCard International, which skipped last year’s Super Bowl, is returning. Charles Schwab Corp., the brokerage, is back for the second year with a pregame ad.

“We’ve seen a return to normalcy of what the Super Bowl has always been, of traditional blue-chip Fortune 500 companies advertising on the game,” said Dana McClintock, spokesman for CBS Television, which is broadcasting the game between the New York Giants and Baltimore Ravens in Tampa, Fla.

Despite the dot-com defections and the downturn of the economy and the stock market, CBS said the cost of a commercial averaged $2.3 million for 30 seconds, $100,000 ahead of the record set last year, when the game was broadcast by ABC. Late yesterday, McClintock said CBS had sold the last available advertising spot for the game.

The network and the 16 local stations it owns, including KYW-TV (Channel 3) in Philadelphia, expect to earn about $200 million in ad revenue from the Super Bowl, “well in excess of our target,” he said.

Game coverage begins at 6 p.m. with kickoff at 6:18.

The selling trend this year was more multiple spot “packages” to run during, before and after the game, McClintock said.

In addition, five Super Bowl advertisers and four other advertisers paid $12 million apiece to sponsor the 14-episode Survivor: The Australian Outback series, which debuts on CBS immediately after Sunday night’s game. The Survivor ads were sold separately from the Super Bowl ads, CBS said.

During the game, the only car company advertising will be Volkswagen of America.

Three Super Bowl advertisers did not exist a year ago, at least in their current forms: Accenture, the new name of Andersen Consulting; and Cingular Wireless and Verizon Wireless, both telecommunications companies that are the result of mergers.

Electronic Data Systems Corp. (EDS), the computer-systems company, will roll out a campaign, “Running with Squirrels,” during the Super Bowl about grappling with complexities of the digital economy.

PepsiCo bought three minutes of Super Bowl advertising – up from two minutes last year – on the theme “Joy of Pepsi.” Pepsi spokesman Dave DeCecco said: “This will be our 16th straight year. The Super Bowl is the only place where you can reach 130 million viewers.”

Linda Loyd’s e-mail address is © 2000 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.