Pepsi, Pontiac, Lipton Tea, 7 UP, Pizza Hut and Nike are among the 30 sponsors that have shelled out a record $1.3 million each for a fleeting 30 seconds of air time. At stake: a captive, couch-bound audience of an estimated 130 million-plus.
Wooing these potential consumers during the big game's potty breaks is being left to a spate of mega-budget, Must See commercials.
One spot coming into the NBC telecast with almost as much hype as the Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos: the Pontiac Grand Prix ad, starring Warner Bros. 'toon Wile E. Coyote and some nifty 3-D animation.
The ad sees the Road Runner-obsessed hound being left in the dust by his foe--until he gets behind the wheel of a Grand Prix. Like the mini-movie that it is, the spot required the services of 40 animators, George Lucas' Industrial Light & Magic tech wizards and a 40-piece orchestra.
Also getting big buzz: Nike's naked people spot. The sneaker company's new "I Can" campaign takes an odd "I Can Exercise in the Buff" twist, with an ad featuring the likes of NBA star David Robinson minus their athletic supporters.
Video clip: Elvis at Pizza Hut
Dead people (fully clothed ones) will be out in force on Sunday. Noted Burger King aficionado Elvis Presley (deceased: 1977) stars in a Pizza Hut clip, hyping the restaurant chain's new specialty, "The Edge." Footage from Presley flicks Girls, Girls, Girls and Blue Hawaii is mixed with footage of Pizza Hut's melted-cheese delicacy--the combination, presumably, an irresistible enticement to order take-out.
Look for baseball great Babe Ruth (deceased: 1948) to return from a lengthy absence to hawk Lipton Iced Tea. A miniature latex version of the New York Yankees slugger will be joined by a similarly dolled-up edition of Reggie Jackson. Other Yankee guys--owner George Steinbrenner and player/announcer Phil Rizzuto--lend their voices to the spot, as well.
Shooting for the moon with big-budget Super Bowl commercials has been a late January ritual since Apple Computer launched the Macintosh with its famous "1984" spot during the (what else?) 1984 game.
But as Apple itself learned just one year later, glitzy production values don't ensure a super Super Bowl ad. (Its 1985 spot featuring business execs making like lemmings was a bomb, according to the Los Angeles Times.)
Just last year, Holiday Inn flunked out with an ad about a transsexual attending his/her high-school reunion. Audiences hated it. The spot never aired again.
Still, there was no shortage of companies waiting to roll the dice during this year's championship game. NBC sold out its ad slots two months ago. As in football's beleaguered AFC conference, hope springs eternal in the advertising industry.
"It's scary," Tom Topolewski, who wrote the Road Runner/Pontiac ad, told the Times. "I just hope people like it, you know. I just hope."