Advertisers look to celebs and animals for Super Bowl laughs

Super Bowl ads: K-Fed, Jay-Z, Goulet?

Advertisers are hoping that celebrities, animals and other gimmicks will attract buzz during Super Bowl XLI.

By Paul R. La Monica, editor at large

NEW YORK ( — More than 90 million people are expected to tune in this Sunday to watch the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears do battle on the gridiron in Super Bowl XLI.

But many of these viewers could care less about the game. They’re more interested in who will win the Super Bowl commercial war.

Big-name companies such as Anheuser-Busch (Charts), Pepsi (Charts) and General Motors (Charts) will all be advertising during the game.

And they’ll be joined by Super Bowl ad newcomers such as Garmin (Charts), King Pharmaceuticals (Charts) and

Coca-Cola (Charts) has decided to advertise during the big game for the first time in nearly a decade, and computer maker Hewlett-Packard (Charts) is running only its second spot ever.

And they’re far from being the only ones willing to pony up as much as $2.6 million for a 30-second spot.

Diamond Foods’ Emerald Nuts is back with a new ad and Nationwide Insurance has arguably the most controversial spot, featuring Kevin Federline as a burger-flipping fast food employee.

As usual, most ads will probably aim for the funny bone so expect lots of celebrity hi jinks and talking animals.

But another closely-watched trend will be the wave of user-generated commercials.

Doritos, owned by Pepsi’s Frito-Lay unit, is running an ad that was created by an average consumer. GM’s Chevy, the NFL and Alka-Seltzer are also featuring ads that were based on ideas from consumers.

Jason McDonell, the director of marketing for Doritos, said the company felt that its online contest to let users submit and then pick an ad for the Super Bowl, will be a great success and this is just the beginning of an age where consumers will have more involvement in the marketing for brand-name companies.

But not everyone is wiling to let “you” become advertising executives.

Bob Lachky, executive vice president of global industry development for Anheuser-Busch, said that his firm toyed with the idea of a user-generated promotion but ultimately decided against it.

“We quite frankly felt we’d be better served managing our ads ourselves. It felt like a stunt to us and I don’t know if we need that,” he said. “The customer is perfectly satisfied with our ads. We’re not short of ideas. When it comes down to it, we thought it was best when we have control.”

With that said, it will be very interesting to see if the ads created by the amateurs score as well in the post-Super Bowl commercial reviews next Monday morning.