The Tennessee Titans and the St. Louis Rams won't be the only fresh names trying to score some points in this Sunday's Super Bowl.
About dozen Internet companies are forking over the highest
prices ever paid for TV commercials so they can join regulars like
Anheuser-Busch, Pepsi-Cola and FedEx on the NFL championship game
There were only two dot-coms in last year's game three if you
count lingerie marketer Victoria's Secret which advertised its
fashion show Webcast.
"Some companies are out there on hope and a prayer, but it's
part of the new economy," said Jeffrey Taylor, chief executive of
online job site Monster.com, one of the Internet advertisers in the
Monster and a rival employment site, Hotjobs.com, each said that
visits to their sites soared after last year's Super Bowl exposure,
and both are back. Their experience fired the hopes of several of
this year's young Internet entrants.
Among them are information provider Britannica.com; the job site
Kforce.com; and women's Web site Oxygen.com.
ABC officials say the Internet companies helped push the
commercial price to an average of $2.2 million an astounding
$733,333 per second for 61 half-minute commercials in the game.
The top price for an ad was said to be over $3 million.
The average is a whopping 38 percent more than the previous
record $1.6 million that the Fox network claimed for ads in last
year's Super Bowl. The price went up even though the average
audience rating tumbled 9 percent last year to the lowest level
The attraction is that the Super Bowl delivers the year's
highest TV ratings and audiences in the 120 million to 130 million
Anheuser-Busch, brewer of Budweiser, is the single biggest Super
Bowl advertiser with five minutes of commercial time in the game.
Its ads include one designed to tug on your heart strings by
showing the birth of a new Clydesdale horse and another with former
hockey star Wayne Gretzky driving a tipsy friend home from a bar
on a Zamboni machine.
Pepsi-Cola will pitch its hot-selling Mountain Dew. One ad shows
a bike rider chasing a cheetah across African plains, capturing and
reaching inside the cat to retrieve a stolen can of Dew.
FedEx inserts a delivery truck into clips from the classic
"Wizard of Oz" movie to show it reaches "places other shipping
companies can only imagine."
Pets.com's ad features its sock puppet singing "Don't Go" in a
plea to owners to spend more time with their pets by using the Web
retailer for pet supplies. Hotjobs.com shows its new computer hand
icon driving a hard bargain in a job interview while Tropicana
pitches orange juice as "the best 9.3 seconds you can possibly
spend on yourself."
The World Wrestling Federation and Seven-Up each had ads
rejected by the ABC standards office, but came up with
alternatives. The WWF, which won't specify what ABC found
objectionable, says its new ad shows "the unabashed excitement of
WWF fans in unexpected places." Seven-Up's original ad got thrown
out because it contained an off-color phrase. Its new one may not
be much better. It shows a fictional marketing executive exhorting
consumers to "show us your cans."
The dot-coms include the well-established like E-Trade with $700
million in revenue last year. Others are startups that are using
investors' money for their ads because they haven't yet generated
enough revenue to pay the bill. They include the wedding stationery
supplier OurBeginning.com., technology adviser Computer.com and
financial portal OnMoney.
August Busch IV, head of marketing for Anheuser-Busch, says
anticipation of these expensive bids for recognition could
ultimately benefit established brands like his Budweiser.
"It heightens consumers' interest in the 'other game' being
played along with the Big Game," he said.
Some media buyers say the two small-market teams in this year's
game could lead to lower ratings since neither has a national
But others say the Super Bowl will attract a big audience no
matter who is in it and that a close game is the key to retaining
"Virtually the whole country comes to a standstill when the
Super Bowl comes on," said veteran commercial buyer Bill Croasdale
of Western Initiative Media.
The Super Bowl is also an advertising showcase and viewers know
it. Eight percent of those watching Sunday's game will be tuning in
just to see the ads, researcher Eisner Communications found.