10:02 p.m. Jan 03, 2000 Eastern
By Julie Steenhuysen
CHICAGO, Jan. 4 (Reuters) – As dot-com companies prepare to storm advertising’s citadel, the Super Bowl, two of the biggest U.S. beer brands, Miller Lite and Budweiser, are looking to the Internet for added exposure on game day.
Miller Brewing Co.’s Miller Lite, official sponsor of Super Bowl XXXIV, is sponsoring superbowl.com, the National Football League Web site for the Jan. 30 game. Miller will have no advertising during the game but will promote the Web site on sports programming and other ads prior to the game.
It becomes the first alcoholic goods marketer to sponsor the site, now in its fifth incarnation. Previous sponsors, all high tech, have included Microsoft Corp., IBM Corp. and Lycos.
While Miller plans to use the Internet to boost its Super Bowl presence, Internet-based firms will advertise during the game in droves in hopes that a 30-second TV spot will give them instant recognition among the 135 million viewers.
“It’s been kind of an interesting flip-flop,” NFL director of corporate communications Chris Widmaier said. “The dot-coms know they need to be in traditional media to raise their general market awareness. Meanwhile traditional brand marketers such as Miller need to be represented in the Internet world.”
Miller, which industry estimates say spent $1 million for sponsorship rights to superbowl.com, will support the site through TV, print, radio and outdoor advertising. The site urges visitors to enter an online debate over the best Super Bowl team of all time.
Miller repeats the Super Bowl debate theme through its instore promotion and a TV spot featuring supermodel Rebecca Romijn-Stamos and comedian Jimmy Kimmel. The spot was done by Fallon McElligott, which lost the account in July and was replaced by Ogilvy & Mather of New York, a unit of WPP Group.
‘HIGHEST-PROFILE SUPER BOWL PROGRAMME IN YEARS’
“This is Miller Lite’s most fully integrated, most impactful, highest-profile Super Bowl programme in many years,” said Robert Mikulay, senior vice president of marketing at the Milwaukee-based unit of Philip Morris Cos. Inc.
“It’s thinking outside the box. It’s a way to link up with what is obviously a blockbuster event that is not in direct competition with anyone else,” said Paul Roller, president of Milwaukee-based Miller Brands, who favours the Web promotion.
Widmaier believes the promotion will help Miller drive home its more than 10-year association as the NFL’s official postseason sponsor, which has long been blurred by rival Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc.’s Super Bowl advertising blitz.
For the past 12 years, St. Louis-based Busch has been the exclusive beer advertiser on the game. For the upcoming ABC broadcast it purchased a full 10 minutes of advertising time.
“In terms of audience reach the Super Bowl is the greatest advertising platform in the world,” Tony Ponturo, Busch’s vice president of corporate media and sports marketing, said in a statement. “For us, beer category exclusivity ensures that when the millions of adults watching the Super Bowl think of a beer brand they think of Budweiser and Anheuser-Busch.”
A spokesman said Busch does not disclose how much it spends on advertising. But it signed the deal early this year when prices were around $2 million for a 30-second spot, which would make the total cost around $20 million, compared with about $16 million for 5 minutes and 15 seconds of advertising on Super Bowl XXXIII. Prices then were $1.8 million per 30-second spot. Now they are going for as much as $3 million.
‘GAME OF THE MILLENNIUM’
In addition to its advertising dominance during the game, Busch will use the Internet to air Bud Bowl 2000 on ESPN.com. The 12-year-old sweepstakes promotion pitting Budweiser and Bud Light in a mock game of football is the centrepiece of the firm’s instore effort, dubbed “The Game of the Millennium.”
The site features interactive games, clips from previous Bud Bowls and a download section with free screen savers.
Anheuser-Busch’s principal ad agencies are Goodby Silverstein & Partners of San Francisco and DDB Worldwide of Chicago. Both are part of Omnicom Group.
Given the sheer weight of its Super Bowl buy, its advertising during the game likely will drown out much of the dot-coms’ advertising noise. But other traditional marketers may face even more pressure to perform.
“The dot-coms are carving out a niche. They will be screaming to put a face on their site,” said Jerry Rosen, president of The Rosen Group, a Chicago-based ad agency specialising in sports marketing.
Given that, Super Bowl ads may be even more outrageous than ever. “The traditional advertiser understands they’re in a new environment with dot-com companies that need to make a statement,” the NFL’s Widmaier said.
“If I’m a traditional packaged goods company on the Super Bowl, I know I have to do the best advertising I’ve ever done so I can refocus that attention to my brand. We feel we’re going to see some of the most dynamic advertising ever.” (OMC.N)(WPP.L)(MO.N)(BUD.N)