Big Brands Still the Superstars

Big Brands Still the Superstars

NEW YORK — The early ad line on the Super Bowl is this: Bet on the favorites. Many of the National Football League championship telecast’s traditional advertisers again will fill the ABC lineup on Jan. 26. As for the smaller brands, their plans are all over the map.

And, as usual, the Super Bowl is not only the most watched show on TV, it’s also the most expensive. ABC is getting an average of $2 million per 30-second spot this year, compared with an average of $1.9 million for last year’s game, and has already sold out 80 percent of all available time on the broadcast.

Anheuser-Busch, the Super Bowl’s exclusive malt-beverage advertiser for the fifteenth consecutive year, has locked up the equivalent of 10 30-second spots, or five minutes of airtime for Bud, Bud Light, a responsible drinking message and possibly Michelob. DDB, Chicago, and Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, handle the bulk of the A-B brands.

In addition, A-B will reprise its Bud Bowl promotion on retail displays that will cross-promote with Procter & Gamble’s Pringles and Torengos snacks. Football-themed point of purchase will hail ABC Sports’ “Championship Television” and feature sideline reporter Melissa Stark.

Perennial Super Bowl advertiser PepsiCo, which is launching lemon-lime Sierra Mist nationally next month, will likely air more than one ad for the brand, via BBDO, New York, using its “Shockingly refreshing” tagline.

Cadillac, which is handled by D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Detroit, also plans a notable Super Bowl presence. The car maker will sponsor the postgame show as the official vehicle of the game, and will likely have two spots, including a 60-second ad that will show off its full line, including the XLR roadster.

Another big brand, Levi’s, plans to break new work during the game as well, said sources. Lead shop Bartle Bogle Hegarty in New York is producing a single spot for the occasion. A description of the work could not be obtained, but the agency was said to be developing ads that would play up the brand’s signature design elements, including the red tab, copper rivets and back-pocket stitching.

H&R Block is back in the game for a second year in a row after last year’s “Taxman” spot, directed by the Coen brothers, resulted in record sales for the firm, according to the company. This year, the tax preparer’s Super Bowl ads will tout the Double Check Challenge, a new service in which H&R will review tax forms prepared by other firms, said David Byers, svp/chief marketing officer for the Kansas City, Mo.-based company.

H&R will draft a yet-unnamed celebrity for a Super Bowl effort. The celeb, however, will not become an H&R spokesperson.

The company plans to run one ad in the first quarter and has agreed to sponsor part of the pregame telecast. During the pregame, H&R’s logo will also be seen in an onscreen graphic for 30 minutes. Campbell Mithun, Minneapolis, handles H&R’s account.

Charles Schwab, another financial-services firm with a similar, albeit more upscale, target, is also planning a return, sources said. GSD&M in Austin, Texas, handles. Schwab representatives declined comment. is “seriously considering the pros and cons” of advertising this year, said Marc Karasu, the New York-based site’s director of advertising, adding that the Super Bowl has “proven historically that it’s a valuable asset.” will make its fifth straight appearance by airing a 30-second continuation of its “Never settle” campaign, via Arnold in Boston. Unlike prior campaigns, the job site’s 2003 effort will target employers, as well as job seekers.

“We’re focusing on the common ground by illustrating the job itself in a specific category you might not expect to see from Monster,” said Peter Blacklow, svp, marketing for the Maynard, Mass.-based company. He mentioned healthcare as a possibility. Blacklow added that brand mascot Trumpasaurus will return.

Sports-broadcast advertising has been so good to the site that is strongly considering signing with the NCAA. “It’s a good fit for us because of the audience we’re going after … recent college grads, alumni networks,” Blacklow said.

One advertiser that may not return is E*Trade. The company, which has sponsored the halftime show since 2000, will not do so this year. It has not yet decided whether it will buy spots during the game. Goodby is E*Trade’s agency.

— Kenneth Hein and Todd Wasserman with Mike Beirne