By JOHN PORRETTO, AP Auto Writer
DETROIT – The man behind a Super Bowl halftime football game between lingerie-clad models says he has assured executives with sponsor Dodge that the event will be more than a televised “panty party.”
The idea of a pay-per-view bra-and-panty fest “concerned Dodge executives, as it should, because that’s not what they were sold,” said Mitch Mortaza, creator and executive producer of Lingerie Bowl 2004, which will take place during the Super Bowl on Feb. 1.
The contest will feature 14 models — seven to a team — playing a real game of tackle football dressed in lingerie and some protective equipment. Former professional players Eric Dickerson and Lawrence Taylor will coach the teams.
The 20-minute program will air on pay-per-view channels for $19.95.
Officials at DaimlerChrysler AG’s Chrysler Group, which owns the Dodge brand, have said they expected some criticism for associating with the event, but it was a marketing risk the automaker was willing to take because it broke through the Super Bowl’s advertising clutter.
The automaker has said it will use the Lingerie Bowl to pitch Dodge cars and trucks bought primarily by men.
Mortaza said Tuesday he’s been on the phone in recent days with Chrysler executives wanting assurances about certain aspects of the broadcast, including attire.
Mortaza said nothing has changed since the idea was pitched to Dodge. The women will wear low-riding, lace-lined “boy shorts,” similar to those worn by beach-volleyball players, and sports bras — both of which Mortaza considers lingerie.
“We don’t want to compromise the girls in anyway, but we don’t want to lose the appeal of this thing,” he said. “It’s going to be a refreshing, sexy alternative for those who are bored with Super Bowl halftime.”
Chrysler spokesman James Kenyon said the event will focus on attire as well as athletic aspects of the competition.
Kenyon acknowledged the event’s sponsorship was done without the consent of Chrysler’s top executives, including chief executive Dieter Zetsche, though such circumstances are not unusual.
“This is a tiny portion of the marketing budget of the Dodge brand, and it’s not every item that gets approved by senior management,” Kenyon said.
This isn’t the first time the Chrysler Group has pushed the boundaries of good taste with its advertising.
In the past couple of years, the company has launched a series of controversial ads that have raised eyebrows among consumers.
One commercial referred to the Chrysler Concorde’s “really big back seat,” implying that it was the possible place where a child was conceived. And, a Chrysler Town and Country ad featured a man asking a neighbor if he wanted to swap — not clarifying whether he meant their minivans or their wives.