Band to appear in Super Bowl ad


Published: Sunday, January 29, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 29, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
ATLANTA - After closing the show Saturday at what is billed as the Super Bowl of black college marching bands before a sellout crowd, Bethune-Cookman College's "Marching Wildcats" can look forward to more super exposure next weekend.
In each case, the band gives thanks to a different car company.
The Battle of the Bands, sponsored by Honda, drew a sellout crowd of 64,800 to the Georgia Dome, the first sellout in the fourth year of the event.
Ten marching bands from historically black colleges matched their high-stepping routines. The program started with the smallest band - Central State (Ohio) University - and ended with Bethune-Cookman, from Daytona Beach, Fla.
"When everything is over, every band wants to leave with people talking about their band," said Bethune-Cookman band director Donovan Wells. "You want to leave here with bragging rights."
Though called a battle, the event is more of a show - or a chance to show off - than a competition.
"To be part of this kind of stage in front of this many people, it means a lot," Wells said.
Bethune-Cookman participated in the Battle of the Bands for the third straight year. The Marching Wildcats have previously performed at NFL halftime shows and they are the official band for the opening ceremonies of the Daytona 500.
Next Sunday comes an even bigger stage. Wells said the band learned this week it will be featured in a Cadillac commercial debuting on the Super Bowl post-game show. Wells said the commercial then will be shown for another 30 to 60 days.
"We are a small college," Wells said. "To get the college the exposure the band brings to the institution is priceless."
The 10 bands at Saturday's show were chosen from a field of 41 in a vote from fans, black college presidents, conference commissioners and band directors.
Also performing Saturday were Jackson State (Miss.) and Prairie View (Texas) A&M of the Southwestern Athletic Conference; North Carolina Central and Virginia State of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association; Florida A&M of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference; Clark Atlanta and Tuskegee (Ala.) of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference; and independent Langston (Okla.).
Jackson State's "Sonic Boom of the South" with its dance team called "The Prancing J-Settes," and Central State's "Invincible Marching Marauders" made their first appearances.
Local favorite Clark Atlanta, which appeared in the 2002 movie "Drumline," has previously performed at the Georgia Dome at halftime of Atlanta Falcons games.
Honda's Barbara Ponce, who oversees the company's multicultural initiatives, said the Battle of the Bands has helped the carmaker "connect with African American customers."
"The first year we only had half of the Georgia Dome and we expected about 20,000, but we got 40,000 and had 15,000 outside we had to turn away," Ponce said.
Ponce said "there is every reason" to keep the event at the Georgia Dome.

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