- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Is shelling out $2.6 million — that’s about $85,000 per second — for a 30-second spot during the Super Bowl really worth it? It depends, advertising specialists say.

“For clients with the right product or the right marketing mission, the Super Bowl can still be a tremendous value,” said Fran Kelly, president and chief operating officer of ad agency Arnold Worldwide.

Advertisers during the big game on CBS Sunday, which is expected to draw about 90 million viewers, are embracing new media as a way to augment traditional television ads. Rather than being threatened by the Web, perennial Super Bowl advertisers and first-timers alike are getting more bang for their buck with the help of Web sites, streaming video, blogs and social networks.

“It’s really a three-month marketing campaign — it’s not a 30-second spot,” Mr. Kelly said.

Many advertisers, to capitalize on pregame hype, have allowed viewers to watch snippets or see photos from their ads ahead of time. As early as September, GoDaddy.com, the Internet domain registrar known for its racy spots, has been updating a visual timeline detailing its “Road to Super Bowl XLI,” complete with details on two ads that were rejected.

Other advertisers have made no effort to keep viewers in suspense: Nationwide Insurance on Monday posted its spot, a spoof featuring rapper Kevin Federline flipping burgers, on its Web site with additional scenes.

The question of Web availability is one of when, as opposed to if, since most advertisers are expected to slap their spots online after the game if not before.

For example, Coca-Cola is posting its two ads — both of which debuted during Fox’s popular “American Idol” show recently — on its Web site immediately after the game. To further ensure visitors to the site, the beverage giant is assigning “rewards” based on images from its ads, to be claimed on mycokerewards.com.

Coca-Cola, which hasn’t aired a Super Bowl commercial in nine years, will link some “rewards” to mycoke.com, an online social network.

Anheuser-Busch, once again the game’s biggest sponsor with five minutes of airtime, is also seizing on multichannel marketing. In addition to posting its ads after the game on bud.tv, the brewer is asking e-mail customers to register their cell phones to vote for their favorite Anheuser-Busch ad — Clydesdale horses, Dale Earnhardt Jr., a hitchhiker and some crabs grace this year’s lineup — via text message.

“Some viewers are going to be more receptive to a TV ad that prompts you to run to the store and pick up a Coke. Others may prefer to go to a Web site,” said Thomas Harpointner, chief executive officer of Internet marketing firm AIS Media. “If a Web site generates 100,000 visitors as a result of that ad campaign, and 10 percent of visitors enter a contest, the advertiser now has a way of following up with those prospects all year long.”

For its part, CBS will post Super Bowl ads after they air on cbs.sportsline.com, breaking them out by advertiser as well as the quarter when they were shown. The network also has agreements with Cingular and Verizon Wireless to make the commercials available for some cell-phone users.

Perhaps the most buzz this year has centered on advertisers’ call for user-generated content. The National Football League, General Motors Co. and Doritos are sponsoring contests that ask people to come up with ideas or produce an ad themselves.

“They’re doing that because YouTube and user-generated content is probably the No. 1 marketing story of the year, and so those three advertisers are going to capitalize on that to get out front,” said Mr. Kelly.

The Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl” promotion, for instance, invited people to create and shoot their own 30-second spots. The company, a unit of Pepsico Inc., picked five videos from more than 1,000 that were submitted and will reveal the winner, as determined by fan votes, in the game’s first quarter.

“Who better to celebrate the love of Doritos than Doritos lovers themselves,” spokesman Jared Dougherty said. “And the Super Bowl was the biggest stage we could give them.”

Aside from the usual suspects that are household names, the Super Bowl is a great opportunity for a lesser-known product to make itself known, Mr. Kelly said.

First-time Super Bowl advertiser Garmin International, a maker of Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation devices, hopes to do just that.

“One of the reasons for us that we’ve decided to do this is to expand Garmin’s name” and introduce a wider audience to GPS technology, spokeswoman Jessica Myers said.

For its 30-second spot, detailed at garmin.blogs.com, the company shot a low-tech production in 1960s science-fiction style featuring a giant “Maposaurus.”

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