Are you ready for some football ads?

WASHINGTON, Jan 27, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) — It’s nearly Super Bowl XXXVIII time and with that will come a wacky array of high-dollar advertising, including everything from’s “Soulmates” to possibly Warner Bros.’ trailer for the movie “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.”

The average cost is $2.25 million per 30-second spot with advertisers expecting to reach around 90 million viewers. This multi-million dollar price tag is a 7 percent jump from last year’s cost, further solidifying the game’s role as the centerpiece of the marketing year, according to a report in Advertising Age.

What won’t be featured in the Super Bowl list of ads — after reaching a zenith four years ago — will be much of the dot-com genre, of which the often cited favorite was the “sockpuppet” dog. There will be, however, one of the still thriving dot-coms, a job-hunting site, which has grown to live up to its name — Monster.

No matter what, if a Super Bowl commercial is done right, it not only helps to sell products, but it enters the cultural pantheon of popular images and enters the language.

Here are just a few of the more than 60 different commercials for viewers to expect this year:

Monster has unveiled details regarding two creative spots, “Soulmates” and “I Feel Love,” slated to debut during the first and third quarters of Super Bowl XXXVIII on Feb. 1. “The 30-second spots encourage job seekers to further their careers and their lives as part of the company’s recently announced brand campaign and tagline, ‘Today’s the Day,'” said the company in a statement

“Monster will also air the campaign’s first spot, “Today,” — which debuted in December 2003 — during the pre-game show,” the company added.

All three spots were produced by Monster’s regular advertising agency, Deutsch Inc. of New York.

“Monster has achieved great success debuting new ads and launching brand campaigns during the Super Bowl,” said Jeff Taylor, founder and chief monster. “Our new campaign reinvigorates the job search process and encourages job seekers everywhere to take action. Capturing millions of Super Bowl viewers has proven beneficial in the past and we are optimistic that as a six-time advertiser, this year will be just as effective.”

In “Soulmates,” the commercial showcases the parallel lives of two men — an executive and a job seeker — who awaken and dress in separate worlds.

The ad takes an inside look at their respective morning rituals to reveal surprisingly similar character traits and idiosyncrasies — like a mutual affinity for argyle socks, crossword puzzles, and frosted, sprinkle-covered donuts — which Monster intends will suggest to the viewer that the two people may be perfectly suited to work together. The spot ends with the two men shaking hands at the start of a job interview. “I Dig You,” the music of Robert Smith of The Cure, helps reinforce Monster’s message of motivation: “Find The One (the job) You Dig.”

The “I Feel Love” commercial is set to The Blue Man Group’s remix of Donna Summer’s disco mantra “I Feel Love.” This spot is intended to awaken the senses with “vivid imagery of people from all walks of life going about their morning routines in brisk, energizing, ready-to-take-on-the-world fashion.”

The ad’s copy line reads: “Get Ready For A Job You Love.”

Before the coin toss for the big game, Pizza Hut will debut what the company terms “two important firsts” — its new 4forALL Pizza and Jessica Simpson’s first national commercial, according to the company. The commercial, created by New York-based BBDO, features superstars Jessica Simpson and The Muppets and the newest Pizza Hut product innovation: 4forALL Pizza — “the first pizza that solves the topping debate forever with four, individually topped, six-inch square pizzas in a single box for $11.99.”

Pizza Hut found in its research that families always debate about which toppings to order on a pizza because everyone wants something different — enter the “Battle of the Beauties” Super Bowl commercial.

The commercial features The Muppets in a heated debate about which pizza topping to order. For example, Kermit the Frog wants green toppings, Animal wants meat and Miss Piggy is a vegetarian. Jessica Simpson enters the scene and stuns The Muppets with the brainy answer, “Why not the 4forALL Pizza? It has more than 18 possible toppings … which gives you more than six million topping options,” leaving them completely speechless.

The pizza arrives, Jessica reaches for a slice but Miss Piggy pulls the pizza box away from Jessica and says, “Beauty before brains.”

Gillette Company will be airing its first commercial on the Super Bowl in 10 years with it its debut of “Gillette. The Best a Man Can Get” campaign. The spot will be broadcast during the third quarter of the NFL championship game.

“This campaign builds on our inspirational signature — ‘Gillette. The Best a Man Can Get’ — that we introduced so successfully in 1989,” said Peter K. Hoffman, president, Blades and Razors. “The Super Bowl offers the ideal venue for Gillette to reintroduce this powerful theme and strengthen its emotional connection with millions of men during one of the most highly charged sporting events of the year.”

Other Super Bowl advertisers include VisaUSA, H&R Block, Sony Pictures, Fed Ex, Frito-Lay, America Online and Warner Brothers, according to Ad age.

Warner, it is rumored, may show a trailer from the upcoming Harry Potter movie “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” Ad Age said.

Advertisers looking to score — and get the biggest bang for their buck on Super Sunday — should lighten up, says advertising researcher Thomas Cline, associate professor of marketing in the Alex G. McKenna School of Business at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa.

Cline studies the use of humor in marketing and reviews the effectiveness of Super Bowl ads. The Super Bowl is a party day, he notes. “More beer, soda and chips are sold that day than the Fourth of July. It’s that atmosphere that dictates which ads will work.”

For example, he said, one of last year’s winning ads, according to USA Today’s Ad Meter, was Anheuser-Busch’s “Instant Reply,” starring a zebra refereeing Budweiser’s famous football-playing Clydesdale horses.

“Not only did it tie in with the festive atmosphere, it tied in with the football game itself,” he said. Since the NFL no longer allows direct tie-ins to the Super Bowl (like the now defunct Bud Bowl), this is the next best thing.

“Ads that work well are context consistent,” Cline says. “They have that festive atmosphere.”

But humor is the defining characteristic of a Super Bowl ad, he observes.

“Weak humor is worse than none,” Cline said. “We see this all the time. Not only is it not funny, it’s just annoying. Advertisers need to attract enough attention to keep folks from going to the bathroom, and then sustain their attention by rewarding them with a punch line at the end.”

The use of humor has a lot to do with the Super Bowl audience. Cline’s research has found that men are more likely than women to buy something just because the advertising was funny.

“Even when women like the humor of an ad, they didn’t necessarily like the product. But if men think an ad is funny, they like the product. Women were found to be more careful shoppers, while men rely more on the emotion of the advertising.”

By T.K.MALOY, UPI Deputy Business Editor