Advertisers kick off dash for Super Bowl commercial slots -

Now that the matchup on the field is set for Super Bowl XLI, the lineup for advertisers for the game is also filling up.

Announcing Wednesday that they will join about a dozen already planning to suit up for advertising’s biggest game will be beverage giant Coca-Cola, sales lead website and GPS device maker Garmin. Drug company King Pharmaceuticals said earlier this week that it will advertise during the game on CBS on Feb. 4.

Last year, Coke bought ads in the pre-game show and its energy drink Full Throttle sponsored the kickoff, but it has let rival Pepsi have the game to itself for cola ads since 1998. Its advertising this year in the game will be for its flagship Coca-Cola brand.

Coke will air a 60-second ad with video-game-like animation. The ad has been shown in movie theaters since Dec. 29 and on the new season of American Idol. The company likely will have a 30-second ad, as well, says Katie Bayne, head of Coca-Cola brands for North America. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to use high-profile appointment viewing.”

Last year, more than 90 million people watched the game, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Super Bowl ad developments:

Rookie advertisers.’s ad will show how its service providing sales leads can make a businessperson successful — without too much hard work. Garmin’s ad, for its personal navigation system, is a humorous take on the troubles of using a paper map for directions.

Returning players. Taco Bell will introduce a pair of comic live lions in an ad for its new Carne Asada Steak Grilled Taquitos. The lions “chat” about game hunters that they are watching return to camp with the new taquitos.

“When the Super Bowl falls at the beginning of a new product launch, it makes perfect sense to advertise,” says Jeff Fox, chief creative director for Yum Brands, Taco Bell’s parent. “What better way to reach so many people at once?”

As part of the promotion, Taco Bell also will launch an interactive website where the comic lions recite punch lines from visitors.

Not laughing. Published descriptions of a Nationwide Mutual Insurance ad — Britney Spear’s estranged husband Kevin Federline appears to be a rap star, but turns out to be a french fry cook — prompted National Restaurant Association CEO Steve Anderson to send a letter to Nationwide CEO Jerry Jurgensen expressing “serious concerns.”

It says, “An ad such as this would be a strong and a direct insult to the 12.8 million Americans who work in the restaurant industry.”

“The intent of the ad isn’t to offend or insult the many fine individuals who work in the restaurant industry,” says Steven Schreibman, Nationwide ad chief. “The focus … is the element of surprise.”