AOL To Sponsor Super Bowl Halftime Show

Will Also Run Three Spots From Wieden During Game

By Tobi Elkin

NEW YORK ( — Time Warner’s America Online today said it will be the presenting sponsor of the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show and will run three commercials during the game.

The three 30-second in-game spots, from independent Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., will showcase a new product, which AOL declined to specify. AOL also plans to run two pre-game spots, produced by Omnicom Group’s BBDO Worldwide, New York, that will be part of the “Life Needs” campaign for AOL 9.0.

AOL’s in-game buys are in the first, second and fourth quarters. AOL bought the first-quarter spot during the upfront earlier this year; the rest were negotiated later.

The Super Bowl will air Feb. 1 on Viacom’s CBS.

Commercial showcase

AOL said that following the game, it will run its annual Super Bowl Commercial Showcase, where members can vote on their favorite Super Bowl ads. Last year, the Super Bowl Commercial Showcase generated 5.6 million streams in two days. The Super Bowl deal extends AOL’s relationship with the National Football League, which offers AOL audio and video content through NFL@AOL. That service features video highlights including game-by-game previews to AOL for Broadband subscribers.

In addition to the halftime show, which will be produced by Viacom’s MTV, AOL will also sponsor the NFL Experience, a weeklong interactive theme park for fans leading up to the big game in Houston. The value of the AOL’s NFL media and marketing package is estimated at between $7 million to $10 million, according to people close to the situation.

AOL has pushed back plans to mount a brand campaign; executives had tentatively planned to launch brand image work during the Super Bowl. The company will instead continue to hammer new features and products related to AOL 9.0 and broadband service.