Janet Jackson's breast was hardly the only controversial image viewers of Super Bowl XXXVIII were subjected to. In addition to spots for erectile-dysfunction drugs, CBS's ad lineup featured a dog biting a man's crotch, a football player with toilet paper stuck to his backside and a flatulent Clydesdale. Don't expect to be offended in quite the same way this Sunday. "Are we going to see horse farts?" says University of Detroit Mercy marketing professor Michael Bernacchi. "Probably not."
The fallout from Jackson's halftime wardrobe malfunction has network execs and advertisers more aware of the line between clever and tacky. Earlier this month Fox told makers of the cold remedy Airborne that the network wouldn't air an ad that had a glimpse of 84-year-old Mickey Rooney's bare behind. After gauging the reaction from 800 focus-group participants, Anheuser-Busch pulled an ad that suggested Jackson's exposure was caused by a stagehand opening a beer with her bustier. (The company will air 10 other spots during the game.) And Levitra, one of the ED medications that advertised last year, is not expected to return. (Cialis, last year's other ED advertiser, is expected to air an ad.) Says Bernacchi, "We're still in a toned-down environment. Last year's belly laughs won't be repeated." Here's what you can look for:
•Car ads. The 2006 Super Bowl will be played in Detroit, and auto companies are getting excited as Super Bowl XL draws closer. For the first time, three carmakers--Honda, Lincoln Mercury and Volvo--will air at least 60 seconds of ads.
•Faces from the past. Among the pitchmen on Sunday are Burt Reynolds (FedEx), M.C. Hammer (Frito-Lay) and Mike Ditka and Dennis Rodman (Cosentino countertops). Diet Pepsi will bring back Cindy Crawford, who spoke for the soda in the '90s.
•Movies. Several studios will hype new releases, including The Pacifier, War of the Worlds and Hitch. Among them they've purchased at least six 30-second spots for a total of $14.4 million--or $2.4 million more than the budget of Sideways.
COURTESY COSENTINO USA (RODMAN)
Super Bowl ads won't get much more risqué than Rodman's Cosentino spot.