Indie Agency Auctions Super Bowl Ad on eBay

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Throwing out a long-shot resembling a Hail Mary football pass, an independent advertising agency has offered to develop a Super Bowl commercial for the highest online bidder at eBay, starting at a price of 99 cents.

Independent advertising agency Boone/Oakley, which has yet to create a Super Bowl ad, said on Friday it would devise three concepts for a show-stopping commercial to air during the Feb. 1 National Football League’s championship game.

Its launching the offer much like a quarterback’s prayer in the wind pass to receivers in the end zone, hoping someone will come up with the big catch.

The offer does not cover the cost of production or a coveted Super Bowl time slot from CBS — where prices are running as high as $2.4 million for a 30-second commercial. But the ad agency hopes to draw advertisers looking for a fresh creative approach at a lower cost.

“We’re offering the concepting time to come up with a brilliant spot … it will be ranked in USA Today’s ‘Top 10 Spots of the Super Bowl’,” said a confident David Oakley, creative director at Boone/Oakley, based in Charlotte, North Carolina. If it fails to make the Top 10 list, Boone/Oakley will refund the bidder.

“Big companies like Anheuser-Busch farm out their business … so why not farm it out to us?” Oakley said. “We started the bidding at 99 cents so we could include everyone. If you’re going to spend two million on a Super Bowl spot, what’s another 99 cents for a great idea?”

Super Bowl stalwart Anheuser-Busch traditionally has the highest number of commercials during the game, and has claimed 10 of some 60 commercials to be broadcast in 2004.

While such major advertisers, including General Motors and PepsiCo, have long-term ties with large ad agencies, some turn to smaller, independent firms to shake up their marketing messages on specific projects.

Providing options for the enticing ad offer, Oakley said the bidder could also use the commercial without airing it on the Super Bowl.

Bids will be accepted until Nov. 14, but advertisers interested had better hurry: The last bid came in at $610 and there were 19 bids since the start of the auction.