Super Bowl advertisers mix serious, sentimental messages amid humorous ones

Monday, February 4th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ It was a rare Super Bowl where the game may have been more entertaining than the commercials.

Super Bowl advertisers appealed to a range of emotions _ from grief, gratitude and nostalgia to humor and a lust for mayhem _ in pitches Sunday that Fox said were sold at an average of just under $2 million per 30-second ad.

It's typically the most expensive show of the year on TV, and advertisers usually try create blockbusters to catch the attention of an audience that averages more than 80 million people.

But the sponsors were hard-pressed to keep pace with the suspense of a game that saw the underdog New England Patriots kick a field goal as time ran out for a 20-17 upset win over the St. Louis Rams for the NFL championship.

Brewer Anheuser-Busch was the biggest sponsor with five minutes of ads.

In a commercial for Budweiser, its Clydesdale horses pull a beer wagon from a snowy farm across the bridge into New York's Manhattan where they appear to pause, bend a knee and bow their heads near ground zero.

Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani expressed New York's appreciation for America's help after Sept. 11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center in another commercial courtesy of job site

Pepsi-Cola ran two nostalgic ads with pop singer Britney Spears reprising past Pepsi jingles dating to 1958.

General Motors' Cadillac used a classic 1959 Eldorado to pass the baton to its three latest models, accompanied by Led Zeppelin's 30-year-old song ``Rock and Roll.''

But before viewers could conclude Madison Avenue had gone squishy, sandwich shop Quizno's turned up with an ad showing a rival fast-food chain using a dart to get a consumer to ``dive'' into its untoasted sandwich in a taste test.

Lipton Brisk executives fire the puppets from their ads after discovering its new tea formulation sells itself. The puppets stage a noisy, messy protest.

In a Bud Light ad, the roly-poly ladies man Cedric returns to advise a friend at a bar about how to get an attractive woman's attention. But she slugs the friend when he parrots a line Cedric meant for the bartender.

In another Bud Light ad spoofing cable TV's ``BattleBots'' battles, a robotic refrigerator pummels an opponent who tries to take the beer inside.

The movie companies evidently feel the country is ready for some shoot-em-up action _ mayhem abounded in ads for new films like ``Collateral Damage,'' ``The Scorpion King,'' ``Bad Company'' and ``Blade II.''

A mystery was solved in the Super Bowl _ AT&T Wireless is the company behind those ads that have been asking if you have an ``M-Life.'' It's a term the phone company evidently hopes will catch on for mobile phone services.

Some advertisers tried mighty hard to be funny _ maybe too hard.

E-Trade Group signalled its expansion into financial advice and banking as well as handling trades with an ad that showed its chimp sporting a green tux in a musical-style commercial. But the ad says critics panned the approach, and the CEO steers the chimp to a new job _ on a space flight.

Levi Strauss & Co. ran an ad for its Dockers pants that showed three burly men in black dresses at a party. It wasn't clear why they dressed that way.

Blockuster Video appeared bent on creating its version of the popular Bud frogs and lizards. Its ad featured a rabbit and guinea pig who live in a pet shop across from a Blockbuster and spend their days imitating movie scenes.

There were some serious messages as well aimed at discouraging consumers from buying drugs and cigarettes.

The White House Office of National Drug Control ran two ads that warned those who buy drugs may be helping finance terrorists.

Marlboro maker Philip Morris ran two ads that encouraged parents to warn their children against smoking. The American Legacy Foundation, which is financed by part of the tobacco industry's $206 billion legal settlement with the states, also ran two ads trumpeting dangerous chemicals in cigarette smoke.