From cats to cans, kooky Super Bowl ads pay off again
Posted: Monday January 31, 2000 07:35 AM
This highly motivated biker shows that nothing comes between a man and his Dew. AP
By Dan George, CNNSI.com
ATLANTA -- Cats being herded like cattle? A delivery truck plopped down in the middle of Munchkin Land? Iron Mike Ditka hawking a chick flick, for cryin' out loud?
For once, thanks to the Rams' 23-16 thriller over the Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV, football fans may be talking more about the game itself than about the TV commercials when they gather around office water coolers and copiers Monday morning.
But that doesn't mean there wasn't plenty to like during the timeouts Sunday night. Advertisers shelled out a record $2.2 million per 30 seconds of commercial time to reach an estimated 140 million viewers.
Many of the old standbys were present -- Anheuser-Busch paid ABC $17 million for 10 30-second spots -- but the biggest development was the startling proliferation of Internet company ads. Sixteen of the 43 scheduled advertisers had some sort of Internet connection, compared with just three for Super Bowl XXXIII.
Here are some of the highs and lows:
Best Big Cat Ad: A determined mountain biker rides down a cheetah who's pilfered his caffeinated, citrus-flavored soda, a.k.a. Mountain Dew. The "See? That's why I'm not a cat person" punchline lifts it past Bud Light's tiger-guarding-the-beer ad.
Best Little Cat Ad: Electronic Data Systems' wacky cat traildrive was a perfect blend of sidesplitting, how-did-they-do-that visuals and twangy, deadpan narration. John Ford meets Monty Python.
Best New Movie Ad: "Mission to Mars." Looks like a worthy successor to "Independence Day" and "Armageddon."
Best Old Movie Ad: Well, actually it was Federal Express' riff on "The Wizard of Oz." After 61 years, we finally learn how the Munchkins did that with their voices.
Most Powerful Ad: John Nuveen & Co.'s spot on investing in the future, depicting paralyzed actor Christopher Reeve walking to present an award. WebMD's spot with Muhammad Ali was strong, too.
Most Pretentious Ad: Monster.com. One question: Just what the heck are they selling? Last year's was overrated, too.
Toughest Women: Toss-up between OurBeginning.com's battling brides and WWF's pugnacious beauty-pageant contestants. Both will make you remember to put the seat down.
Most Prolific Spokesman: Mike Ditka. A Blockbuster spot touting the video release of "Runaway Bride" features a great kicker as Ditka tries to close the deal: "I can't afford to lose this job, too." He's also among several ex-athletes, including Wade Boggs, Barry Sanders and Charles Barkley, appearing in Schwab's droll "Retirement Comes Sooner Than You Think" ad.
Best Old Rock Song Ad: Mountain Dew's take on Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." A bizarre second: Chicago's "If You Leave Me Now," as rendered by Pets.com's sock puppet.
Most Honest Ad: You gotta admire a company -- in this case, E*Trade -- that opens a commercial with a chimpanzee singing "La Cucharacha" and finishes it by saying, "Well, we just wasted 2 million bucks." Props also to Lifeminders.com's "The Worst Ad on the Super Bowl."
Ad Most Likely to Make Censors Wince: 7 Up's "Show Us Your Can" spot. "Look like two big Christmas hams ..."
Best of Show: Budweiser covered all the bases. While one ad hammered home the company's tradition, another used the birth of a Clydesdale to tug at the heart strings, and a third, depicting Wayne Gretzky as the designated driver on a Zamboni, gently emphasized drinking responsibly. And there was plenty of humor, most notably the latest installment of the "Wassup?" series. These folks have the drill down pat.
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