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Best of the Bowls

If you simply can't wait until Jan. 30 to watch Super Bowl ads,
the Museum of Television & Radio (locations in Los Angeles and
New York) has your fix. Through Feb. 13 it's running an exhibit
entitled "The Super Bowl: Super Showcase for Commercials,"
featuring 68 spots that debuted on Super Sunday.

Many are more ingrained in our consciousness than the games. How
can we forget: "Nothin' but net." Spuds McKenzie. "You got the
right one, baby. Uh-huh!" Bud Bowls. The "Bud-weis-er" frogs and
lizards (above). In the exhibit, narrator Frank Gifford (a
broadcaster for CBS at Super Bowl I, which was also telecast by
NBC) shepherds you through the catchphrases and characters,
noting that while advertisers "paid $85,000 for a 60-second spot
in 1967, they now pay more than $50,000 per second." (Even that
utterance, made last year, is out of date: At last report a
30-second spot during ABC's broadcast of Super Bowl XXXIV was
going for a record $3 million, or double the price quoted by the
Giffer.) Our thoughts on XXXIII years of Super Bowl commercials:

Consistency Award: Master Lock, a relatively small company whose
ads appeared every year from 1974 to '96. Think about it: How
often do you see Master Lock ads the rest of the year?

Big Stars, Bad Ads: Steve Martin looked silly in a 1994 Nike
commercial touting a conspiracy that a then retired Michael
Jordan was playing basketball incognito. In '95 Jason (Seinfeld)
Alexander's skydiving stunt for Rold Gold pretzels had us wishing
that his chute wouldn't open. And in '90, what was Paul Newman
doing on that miniscooter, and what did it have to do with
American Express? One exception: Chevy Chase in '94, spoofing his
failed Fox talk show by having his Doritos ad "canceled" midway
through filming. "Tough year," Chevy deadpanned.

Why in the World Award: Too many high-concept campaigns (are you
listening, Pepsi?) traipse the planet, insipidly stereotyping
everyone from Chinese Buddhists to African tribesman. Is this
what Michael Jackson's Black and White video hath wrought?

Most Effective Ad: Had you heard of job-search Web site
Monster.com before last year's clever spot in which children put
a sardonic twist on the familiar complaints of the disaffected
white-collar worker (e.g., "I want to be forced into early
retirement")?

Most Super Ad: Pepsi's Your Cheatin' Heart in '96. With the Hank
Williams classic providing the background, a Coke deliveryman
attempts to pilfer a Pepsi from a store display but instead
starts an embarrassing avalanche of cans. No words, no stars,
just simple human nature. Nothin' but net. Uh-huh!

--John Walters

COLOR PHOTO: ANHEUSER BUSCH

SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL
On the sprightly Web site www.d3hoops.com, Division III
basketball gets its due

Do you know who Christopher Newport, William Paterson and Richard
Stockton are? Third-party candidates? Lesley Visser's leading
men? Good guesses, but sorry: All are schools whose men's
basketball teams are in the Division III top 15.

We learned this by typing in the URL www.d3hoops.com. An
apotheosis of sports niche sites, D3hoops.com provides scores,
rankings and features on the NCAA's nonscholarship level of
basketball. The home page provides news from the far-flung
Division III universe. Fans at Wisconsin-Stevens Point were
jubilant after the Pointers ended Wisconsin-Platteville's 96-game
home win streak on Jan. 8 with a 77-63 victory. In tragic
contrast, students at Wisconsin-Superior were in mourning after
junior forward Calah Matthias was killed and guard Jessica Reed
critically injured in a head-on car collision on Jan. 6.

A features link spotlights Washington University of St. Louis's
women's coach Nancy Fahey, who with 48 consecutive triumphs had
drawn comparisons to Division I's mighty Pat Summitt (whose
Tennessee teams once won 46 in a row). Another link follows
forward Lewis Satterwhite of Emory, in Atlanta, as he skips the
first half of a game--to attend a Rhodes scholarship interview.

Fans of big-time basketball need look no further than the home
page to ascertain that they've surfed into uncharted waters. Last
week's survey question on the page's left side: Do teams take off
too much time for the holidays?

--J.W.

WEBWORDS

"Let's see, the best nickname I've ever heard, that's tough.
Someone used to call me Eddie Munster because of the way my hair
goes into a V at the front of my head."

Celtics center VITALY (UKRAINE TRAIN) POTAPENKO, in answer to
"What is the best nickname you've ever heard?" in NBA.com's
"Mailbox of the Week"

Characters from ads that debuted on the Super Bowl have been
more memorable than many of the games.