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Super-expensive Super Bowl ads might not be so super

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January 24, 1997
Web posted at: 11:10 p.m. EST

From correspondent Paul Vercammen

HOLLYWOOD, California (CNN) -- Pull up a couch, grab some chips and dip and get ready for the real reason we watch the Super Bowl -- to see companies unveil creative, entertaining new commercials.


The super-matchup between the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots this Sunday will have the attention of hundreds of millions of viewers, and while the big game often lacks flare on the field, the advertising game off the field aims to please.

From political powers to puppets


This year's Super Bowl entry fee for advertisers is averaging a record $1.2 million for 30 seconds of air time. And companies are also forking over cash to land celebrities to sell their products -- from political powers to puppets.

Former GOP presidential candidate Bob Dole is getting into the act. He's pitching Visa.

Commercials will also feature supermodels Kathy Ireland and Vendela, joined by Miss Piggy and Antonio Sabato, Jr. for Baked Lays.

Cindy Crawford cruises for Cadillac.

Nike is dishing out $2 million a minute to show their Super Bowl Party featuring Lil' Penny, a caricature of basketball star Penny Hardaway.

Hollywood spending $9 million

And Hollywood's movie studios are spending more than $9 million to show trailers for upcoming films, including Howard Stern's "Private Parts", "Jurassic park" sequel "The Lost World", and "The Devil's Own".

But other big name companies like Ford and Sprint are passing on the pricey chance at millions of viewers.

"If you don't have something really important to say -- a new campaign, a new product -- it doesn't make sense to spend $1.1 million for 30 seconds," says Jean Pool, an ad buyer for J. Walter Thompson.

"The advertising just stinks"

This year's crop of commercials, however, might leave some viewers yawning, something they normally reserve for the traditionally suspenseless game.


"This year, I don't know if the game will be any good, but the advertising just stinks," says Bob Garfield, Super Bowl prognosticator for Advertising Age. "Fred Astaire is going to dance with a vacuum cleaner. We've grown accustomed to dead entertainers being resurrected thanks to computer compositing. I'm sorry, but it's going to be a boring game."

One thing is certain: boring or entertaining, commercials in the Super Bowl limelight will be expensive for their respective companies.


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