Yes, there will be football. And, if you keep good company, there will be food. But in between all that, there will be commercials!
Super Bowl XLIV happens this Sunday at Miami Gardens' Sun Life Stadium, and while at least 80 minutes will be devoted to the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints beating the tar out of each other, the rest of the afternoon is all about entertainment of the less sporting variety.
Though we are living in a DVR world, the Super Bowl remains a singular opportunity for advertisers to get a word in edgewise in these fast-forward-happy times. (And face it, 98 million people aren't going to be tuning into the American Idol finale.)
In better economic days, we had Britney, Justin and Jessica peddling Pepsi and Pizza Hut Poppers. Heck, Budweiser even trotted out Conan O'Brien along with the Clydesdales last year. But even though many companies are trying to cut back (no FedEx, GM or Ford this weekend), we've still got Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert Downey Jr. and Johnny Depp to watch out for...
Albeit in trailers for Shutter Island, Iron Man 2 and Alice in Wonderland, but still. Paramount and Universal aren't saying which upcoming new releases they plan to spotlight during the game, but Disney is promising a "spectacular," 60-second Alice preview. Fun stuff, right?
Not quite as fun, however, as what Coca-Cola is doing with The Simpsons, the show Tracy Morgan is putting on for Volkswagen and the rhymes Charles Barkley is penning for Taco Bell. Here's a rundown of what to watch for this Sunday:
• Anheuser-Busch (which includes Bud and Michelob) will once again be the sole brewer represented during the game, having bought up a whopping five minutes of advertising at the going rate of $2.5 to $3 million per 30 seconds. No celebs of note, but you know how cute those horsies are.
• Tracy Morgan demonstrates how to play Punch Dub (an updated version of the ol' Punch Buggy game) in Volkswagen's first Super Bowl ad in nine years.
• Charles Barkley continues his commercial love affair with the number "5," this time for Taco Bell's new NBA Five Buck Box.
• The Simpsons' Mr. Burns, who's supposedly older than Coca-Cola itself, loses all his money (we like Patty and Selma carting Smithers off on the roof of their car) and then Coke helps him turn things around. "Indestructible…"
• Electronic Arts is hyping the upcoming Dante's Inferno for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Damn the censors for not allowing EA to use the game's real slogan, "Go to hell," in the visually rich spot.
• Don Rickles voices a—what else?—curmudgeonly box of flowers for Teleflora to get the guys—but more likely just the girls—charged up for Valentine's Day
• CBS has defended its decision to allow Focus on the Family's anti-abortion-themed spot, featuring Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and his mom, who says she went against a doctor's advice and carried Tim to term despite the risk to her health at the time. No such luck for this banned GoDaddy.com ad, which—horror of horrors!—has gay undertones. (Really, CBS?)
• Minus the one no-go, Danica Patrick, who last year showered and did other sexy stuff for GoDaddy.com, is back for another two 30-second spots for the domain-registration service.
• The members of Kiss will go gaga for the "kiss of cherry flavor" in Dr. Pepper Cherry, the first time the DP brand is getting a paid advertisement in the Super Bowl.
• HomeAway.com is partying like its 1983, getting Mr. and Mrs. Griswold, aka Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo, to reprise their National Lampoon's Vacation roles to help peddle this one-stop shop for vacation house rentals.
• Going even more old-school is Snickers, which will be curing Betty White and Abe Vigoda's hunger pangs in a 30-second spot.
• Daniel Radcliffe rides his Firebolt to Florida to stump for Universal Orlando's new Harry Potter-themed attractions, opening this spring.
• Brett Favre is just like a Hyundai—he's got at least 100,000 miles in him.
• Tru TV heralds the premiere of NFL Full Contact with the arrival of the eerily small yet still quite adorable Punxsutawney Polamalu (of Steelers fame). He sees his shadow, meaning, six more weeks of football!
Other names in on the game include Audi, Honda, Kia, Doritos, E-Trade, Intel, kgb, Dockers, Denny's, Dodge (Chrysler), Bridgestone, Boost Mobile, Cars.com, CareerBuilder, Pop-Secret and Emerald Nuts (Diamond Foods), Motorola, Monsters.com, the NFL, Paramount Pictures, Walt Disney Co., Universal Pictures, Qualcomm, Skechers, Dove (Unilever), the U.S. Census Bureau and Vizio.
And maybe the economy really is on an upswing, despite all the unemployment 'n' stuff.
CBS had unloaded all of its ad slots six days before game time, while NBC was still scrambling to sell 60 seconds' worth of airtime two days before kickoff last year.
Speaking of Friday, there are a multitude of pregame festivities taking place in Miami, starting with Nick Lachey and NASCAR star Jimmy Johnson hosting the 3rd Annual Super Skins Celebrity Golf Classic for charity, which this year includes the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.
Carrie Underwood sings the national anthem before gametime on Sunday, and The Who will headline the Bridgestone Halftime Show.