So you don't bleed Cardinal red or cloak yourself in Steeler gold. There's still plenty of entertainment to be had this weekend to satisfy those who are only planning to tune into Super Bowl XLIII for the camaraderie and beer.
We may be in a…er…rebuilding year as far as the economy is concerned, and tough times have prompted big-game regulars General Motors, Ford and FedEx to sit out the least TiVo'd event of the year, but plenty of others were still willing to cough up an average of $3 million for 30 seconds of brand exposure.
But what exposure!
A record 97.5 million people on average watched last year's Super Bowl, with a total of 148.3 million checking in for at least a portion of the broadcast.
As of Wednesday, NBC had sold all but two of its 67 available ad slots to many of the usual suspects, but 80 percent of that time had already been sold by mid-September, before the country's financial outlook became quite so grim.
"I am not going to tell you that it hasn't been a tough slog since then," NBC Universal Sports & Olympics President Dick Ebersol told reporters in a conference call this week. "But we're down to the last four spots left in the game, and they have not crashed price in any way, shape or form...Considering the state of the economy in the United States, we couldn't be any more thrilled with where we are."
But even though Britney/Justin/Jessica aren't shilling for Pepsi and Pizza Hut, there's still plenty to get excited about, whether you can't wait to see a resurgent Jennifer Hudson sing the national anthem and rock out to Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band during halftime—no Lingerie Bowl this year, sorry—or not.
And actually, before the brand-name bonanza officially begins, NBC kicks off pregame festivities with arguably the biggest celebrity in the world right now.
Matt Lauer will be interviewing President Barack Obama in his first American TV sit-down since the inauguration, live from the White House during the network's Super Bowl pregame coverage. (Catch part two of their chat on Monday's Today show, of course.)
But anyway, some commercials to watch for, all the while knowing BetOnline.com is laying down 4-1 odds you're going to dig one of Anheuser-Busch's ads the most:
• Anheuser-Busch has cornered the Super Bowl's beer market once again, with seven ads in four and a half minutes of airtime. In one, Conan O'Brien agrees to make a Bud Light commercial that will air only in Sweden, while A-B's signature Clydesdale horses star in three Budweiser spots. Budweiser American Ale gets a plug, too, if the game goes into overtime. (Fun fact: Instead of collecting a fee, O'Brien asked the brewer to donate his paycheck to the Fresh Air Fund.)
• DreamWorks and Pespi Co., with help from Intel, intend for viewers to don 3-D glasses (found wherever SoBe is sold, or call 1-800-646-2904 to get a pair pronto) for a two-and-a-half-minute block of high-tech visuals, including a 90-second trailer for DreamWorks' Monsters vs. Aliens and a one-minute ad for SoBe Lifewater, featuring those hip, dancing lizards, NFL players and said Monsters. The glasses will come in handy to watch Monday's episode of Chuck, as well.
• Pepsi rolls out its new "Refresh" campaign in a first-quarter spot featuring Will.i.am performing Bob Dylan's "Forever Young."
• Audi enlisted Transporter star Jason Statham to demonstrate in 60 seconds how much an A6 sedan would come in handy when fleeing the scene of a heist.
• Heineken unleashes "Warrior," its second ad featuring John Turturro.
• Viewers can vote for which 30-second GoDaddy.com spot featuring IndyCar driver Danica Patrick—the courtroom "drama" or the "steamy" shower spot—airs during the game.
• The still-alive Abe Vigoda plays Death in H&R Block's "death and taxes"-themed spot for its Second Look® review services.
• MC Hammerand Ed McMahon try to outdo each other in terms of having the most stuff to get rid of while stumping for Cash4Gold.com.
• Pittsburgh Steelers star Troy Polamalu appears in Coke Zero's first-ever Super Bowl spot, the first 12 seconds of which are a play on the famous 1979 Coke ad featuring famed ex-Steeler "Mean" Joe Greene. Two other heartwarming, CGI-utilizing spots tout Coca-Cola's Open Happiness campaign. (Fun fact: All of Coke's ads are in the game's second half because Pepsi crowded them out of the first.)
• Paramount Pictures is putting trailers for Transformers: Revenger of the Fallen, G.I. Joe and Star Trek before a TV audience for the first time, while Sony offers up a glimpse of the Da Vinci Code sequel, Angels and Demons. Disney flashes its next Pixar collaboration, Up, and Universal teases Land of the Lost and the fourth Fast and the Furious installment.
• A bevy of lingerie-clad beauties get hot and heavy with vegetables in a PETA ad demonstrating how great it feels to be a vegetarian. Oh, wait, no they don't—that commercial got axed.
• Oh, and NBC is going to be taking advantage of the five minutes of commercial time the host network gets, trotting out ads for Heroes, Chuck, Medium and the special hourlong episode of The Office airing after the game, as well as promos for Jay Leno's eventual move to 10 p.m. and O'Brien's move to the Tonight Show.
And on Saturday night, CBS gets in on the action by airing Super Bowl's Greatest Commercials 2009. Viewers can vote for their all-time favorite online.
Meanwhile, in addition to taking the Big Three out of the game, the nation's paltry pocketbooks have also taken their toll on Tampa's brand-name party scene this weekend, with Playboy and Sports Illustrated opting to cancel their yearly bashes.
Not that celebs will lack options when deciding where to get their scenester grooves on this weekend.
Carmen Electra, Kim Kardashian and Jenny McCarthy host the sixth-annual Leather and Laces party Friday night, a hot ticket that will be compete with Super Bowl fixture Nick Lachey and NASCAR driver Jimmy Johnson's nearby gathering, and dueling shindigs hosted by Maxim and ESPN the Magazine.
The following night, Kevin Costner and former N.Y. Giants star Michael Strahan cohost the annual Saturday Night Spectacular (Costner's gonna sing with his band, too) hosted by American Airlines and Texas Energy. That par-tay goes head to head with Sean Combs' Good Life Experience, Pamela Anderson's Athletes & Angels affair and Nelly's Under the Veil gathering at Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry.
Not up for forking over $875 to rub elbows with KevCost (if it helps, part of the proceeds go to charity)? Snoop Dogg and 3 Doors Down are performing free concerts Friday and Saturday for the 21-and-over crowd at Channelside Bay Plaza.
Now, who wants to pretend to watch some football?!