Almost a Super Bowl again

Yes, they’re back. This time you’ll know who they are.

By Dave Lariviere

We may never see a repeat of 2000, when the dot.coms dominated Super Bowl advertising with more than 20 percent of the games spots bought by then-flush new media companies.

How easy it was to forget them, too–forgettable names of such forgotten dot.comers as, and

This Super Bowl the dot.coms are back, and they’re upping the ad spending with a greater presence. The difference this time is that they’ll all be familiar names.

Two major dot.coms, America Online and, are definitely planning to advertise in the upcoming game.

Another, Hotjobs, is still contemplating, according to media buyers and planners surveyed by Media Life, while Yahoo, a past advertiser, reportedly has not made a commitment.

America Online will replace last years halftime show sponsor, E*Trade, and run three 30-second commercials in a reported $7.5 million deal. The show, to be produced by MTV, will likely feature Janet Jackson and Outkast.

Monster will reportedly double its Super Bowl ad spending from last year.

The spots are about 80 to 90 percent sold, says GSD&M vice president and marketing director Eric Webber.

The biggest new advertiser is probably Gillette, they’re back for the first time in probably 10 years.

Also making their debuts will be Procter & Gamble, which awarded its spot to Charmin Friday, and Major League Baseball.

Some advertisers who bought time last year are passing this year, including Charles Schwab, Hanes and Reebook, which had one of the most successful spots last year with the Terry Tate, office linebacker character.

Average ad rates this year are between $2.3 million and $2.4 million, up about 10 percent over last year.

CBS, which is airing the game on Feb. 1, says that at 80 percent sold itis well ahead of where it was at this point three years ago, when it had sold only 65 percent of inventory.

Shawn Bradley, chief operating officer of The Bonham Group, says Anheuser-Busch has bought six to eight 30-second spots and will probably get the first commercial after the first time out, a prime spot that costs more than the average.

The Super Bowl is one of those events where it doesn’t depend on the season, the match-ups or whether major markets are involved, says Bradley. Its one of the stable platforms in sports.

John Bogusz, executive vice president of sports sales at CBS, confirms that Anheuser-Busch, General Motors and Pepsi would again be the top advertisers.

According to media people surveyed by Media Life, most of the advertisers look familiar.

Though CBS also refused to discuss specific pricing or placement of ads, its fairly well known that the earlier the spot, the steeper the price.

By halftime of a dull game, such as have been seen in several of the past few years, people are no longer paying attention to the commercials or have already drunk enough beer to forget them.

Thus the fourth-quarter spots are often available for companies who cant afford to appear in the first half.

Other advertisers who are returning this year include FedEx, Frito-Lay, Universal Studios, MGM, Warner Brothers, Visa and Gatorade, according to Bradley.

-Dave Lariviere is a New Jersey writer.