No Big Win for Ads,0,7982809.story?coll=ny-business-print

By Monty Phan

Unlike the game itself, there was no clear-cut winner among Madison Avenue’s offerings that aired during Sunday’s Super Bowl, if the polls are any indication.

In fact, advertisers’ efforts seemed to be so ho-hum that even the students in Andrew Bergstein’s marketing classes at Penn State University were unwilling to discuss them.

“It was like pulling teeth to get students to talk about their favorite Super Bowl ads, which was radically different from previous years,” said Bergstein, an instructor at the university’s Smeal College of Business.

Overall, Bergstein said he didn’t think this year’s crop was as inventive as even last year’s, when advertisers faced economic turmoil and the dilemma of how to address the post-Sept. 11 audience. Still, his classes did have a few favorites, among them:

A Visa spot starring the Houston Rockets’ 7-foot-5 center Yao Ming, who, when asks if he can write a check, is repeatedly rebuffed by a cashier who points to a sign saying, “Absolutely no checks.” Each time she points, she says, “Yo,” to which the basketball star replies, “Yao.”

A Sierra Mist commercial where two sweltering monkeys at a zoo use a see-saw to catapult one of them over a wall and into a polar bear’s pool, while the theme from “2001” plays in the background.

Some of the polls had other favorites. Nearly 300,000 America Online members who voted on the ads had Pepsi Twist’s commercial, starring Ozzy Osbourne, as the top spot. In it, the rocker sees his kids, Jack and Kelly, transformed into Donny and Marie Osmond, and when he wakes up from the “nightmare” and calls for wife Sharon, it’s instead Florence Henderson.

USA Today’s annual “Ad Meter” survey had Anheuser-Busch’s football-playing Clydesdales as the favorite. The ad depicted two teams of horses waiting while a refereeing zebra reviews the previous play, his head tucked under the hood of a TV camera.

Other spots that got high marks: a FedEx spoof of the movie “Castaway” that showed a man delivering a battered package after years of being stranded on a deserted island, only to find out it contained a satellite phone, water purifier and other survival tools.

Copyright © 2003, Newsday, Inc.