Super Bowl ads stick to humor


Published: Monday, January 27, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 27, 2003 at 12:02 a.m.
NEW YORK - Advertising's auteurs kept it quirky on Super Bowl Sunday, with humor a prime ingredient in most commercials as Americans weary of war talk and a gloomy economy were given a chance to chuckle.
AT&T Wireless offered a parody of the PBS series, "Antiques Roadshow," with the traditional telephone ridiculed as a useless relic. "Do you know how much this is worth?" the host asks his guest. "Diddly-squat."
The game's biggest ad buyer with 11 spots, Anheuser-Busch Inc., tweaked pro football's review rule and the league's troubled officiating this season with a zebra pulling referee duty during a game between horses. (The ad aired, coincidentally, right before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers sought a successful review of a turnover call.)
Super Bowl commercials are traditionally among the most coveted and prestigious in the advertising world, with a television audience topping 100 million people and few channel surfers.
The night offers advertisers a forum for exhibiting their skills to a huge, diverse group of people - some of whom watch solely for the ads.
This year's 30-second slots sold for between $2.1 million and $2.2 million, about 10 percent more than last year. For the second consecutive year, Anheuser-Busch was the game's largest advertiser, with 11 spots.
Around the ads, Tampa Bay won its first Super Bowl, 48-21. The splashiest commercials typically air earlier in the game, which fit well with listless offense through much of the first half.
About 40 percent of the game's commercial spots were bought by four advertising behemoths: Anheuser-Busch, General Motors Corp., Sony Corp. and PepsiCo.
MasterCard used a trio of "dead presidents" to extol the convenience of its debit cards. Presidents Washington, Lincoln and Jackson wait impatiently at home as a man has a dinner-and-movie date, paid for with his debit card.
Michael Jordan showed up in two campaigns.
In Gatorade's Super Bowl debut, Jordan of today plays against his younger self, the No. 23 icon of the Chicago Bulls.
In a spot for Hanes, Jordan smirks as actor Jackie Chan scratches at the shirt tag rubbing his neck. The ad shows off Hanes' new tagless T-shirts.
Pepsi hired Ozzy Osbourne's prominent clan to push Pepsi Twist, although none of the oft-deleted-expletive bunch was bleeped, even once, in the 45-second spot.

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