Seriously, who watches the big NFL game just for football? The cool commercials are really where it's at.
How quickly can you spend $3 million? If you're a Super Bowl advertiser, it takes just 30 seconds.
That's the going rate for a typical commercial during Sunday's NFL championship game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals. For many viewers, those sponsored breaks from the on-field action are a primary draw for tuning in the annual broadcast.
This year's ads are generating the usual pregame buzz, even if regulars such as FedEx, General Motors and Garmin are opting out because of the bad economy. In their place will be pitches from newcomers that include Denny's, Pedigree dog food and Teleflora florists (brilliantly targeting a captive male audience two weeks before Valentine's Day). None can compare with Anheuser-Busch, whose 4 1/2 minutes' worth of beer spots make it the top Super Bowl pitcher -- and the target of MillerCoors, whose one-second spot (yes, one second) is part of an ad campaign that quickly mocks its rival for spending so much.
Here are some of the ads generating chatter going into Sunday's big game. If you miss them on TV, you can view them online at sites such as Ad Age (www.adage.com/superbowl09) and Superbowl-ads.com, or look them up on YouTube (www.youtube.com). And if you want to revisit 10 memorable ads from the past, check out "Super Bowl's Greatest Commercials" on Saturday (7 p.m., WCCO, Channel 4).Comin' at ya
3-D is all the rage lately, and that hasn't been lost on two sponsors. The trailer for DreamWorks' upcoming animated film "Monsters vs. Aliens" and a one-minute ad for Pepsi's SoBe Lifewater will be shown in 3-D at the end of the second quarter. The company behind the technology, Intel, has produced 125 million pairs of 3-D glasses for the event. Keep them handy for a 3-D episode of "Chuck" the following night on NBC. Pick up a sheet of four free glasses at special SoBe displays at grocery stores and other retail outlets. (Call 1-800-646-2904 or visit www.monstersvsaliens.com for a list of stores.)Usual shenanigans
GoDaddy has always pushed the boundaries of good taste with its Super Bowl spots, and this year's offering is no different. Ironically, its ads never indicate what GoDaddy does. The seller of website names has created two steamy ads starring race-car driver Danica Patrick, one of which shows her taking a shower (and both of which required preapproval by NBC). An online vote will determine which titillating teaser airs. Racier versions of both spots will be shown online once the game starts. Vote and see the action at www.godaddy.com.Sensitivity reigns
When so many people are out of work, a different approach might be prudent. That's why the job-hunting sites Career Builder and Monster are treading lightly in tough times, with the former emphasizing humor (a co-worker wearing a Speedo swimsuit as one reason to look for a new job) and the latter focusing on its partnership with the NFL by using "in-game enhancements." Similarly, South Korean automaker Hyundai reportedly is considering replacing one of two creative ads for its Genesis coupe (one featuring cellist Yo-Yo Ma) with a more sobering pitch for a program that forgives auto loans for those who lose their income within a year of buying.Time for a snack
Amateur admakers are getting a shot at the big time, thanks to Doritos' Crash the Super Bowl contest. Five do-it-yourself video clips were picked from more than 1,900 entries. The favorite among online viewers (vote at www.crashthesuperbowl.com) will be aired during the game. The winner could be crunching numbers, not just Doritos: If the ad also finishes highest in USA Today's annual Ad Meter rankings, the winner will get $1 million.More cola wars
The decades-long battle between colamakers escalates Sunday, when Pepsi -- the game's second-biggest sponsor -- will have exclusive access to commercials for nonalcoholic beverages during the first half. It's expected to tout the new look of its drinks, including Mountain Dew and Gatorade. Coca-Cola is expected to strike back in the second half with its new "Open happiness" campaign.
Randy A. Salas • 612-673-4542.