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Put these Super Bowl ads on your watch list

Got a minute? Got $6 million lying around? If so, you can still buy 60 seconds of the most prime time television offers, a commercial slot during NBC's Super Bowl XLIII broadcast Sunday. Terms are negotiable because the recession chased some advertisers away. For the first time since Super Bowl ads became must-see TV, the not-so-Big Three automakers — General Motors, Ford and Chrysler — are sidelined. Apparently their executives believe it imprudent to spend an average $3 million per 30-second slot while begging Congress for bailout money. Don't worry. The game will have commercials for American obsessions besides driving, especially beer, food, movies and sex. Plus, ads geared toward putting money in your pockets by getting jobs and winning contests. Cute animals and kids are traditional. A commercial break presented in 3-D will be a first. These are the ads likely to be discussed as much as Kurt Warner's stats Monday morning.

Wear your glasses

DreamWorks and Pepsi collaborated on the 3-D experiment, scheduled to air at the end of the second quarter, before Bruce Springsteen's halftime show. The movie studio presents a preview of the animated Monsters vs. Aliens, above (that's B.O.B., right, and Dr. Cockroach). That will be followed by Pepsi plugging its SoBe Lifewater with NFL players Ray Lewis, Matt Light and Justin Tuck, and characters from the movie dancing with the SoBe Lizards, descendants of the Geico gecko and Budweiser frogs. Cardboard 3-D glasses are available free anywhere SoBe Lifewater is sold. As a bonus, the glasses can be reused Monday during a 3-D episode of NBC's Chuck.

Raise your glasses

. Anheuser-Busch delivers a nine-pack of ads, including several starring the famed Budweiser Clydesdales, and they're reportedly more uplifting than comical to reflect the cultural climate. NBC's Conan O'Brien — who's almost as famous as the horses — stars in a Bud Light commercial, donating his salary to the Fresh Air Fund.

. Miller High Life is spending money in smaller increments: 30 one-second ads featuring the warehouse dude who interrupts parties when his brand isn't being consumed. You can see them all online now ( Trust me, the gimmick works.

. For teetotalers, Pepsi bought seven more slots promoting its new logo (it's kind of like the old logo turned sideways). Musician appears, performing a hip new jingle. Pepsi reportedly bought so much time during the game's first half that Coca-Cola is lying low until after halftime. Watch for a reboot of Coke's classic Mean Joe Greene commercial from the 1970s, this one for Coke Zero, starring Steelers safety Troy Polamalu. Nice coincidence with the Steelers playing.

Wipe your glasses

., the company selling something nobody remembers but its commercials are sexy, returns with a literally steamy ad: IndyCar racing star Danica Patrick sharing a hot shower with a buxom spokeswoman.

Grab the popcorn

. Hollywood stays in the game with preview trailers that aren't 3-D. Among the upcoming flicks to be promoted: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen; a live-action version of G.I. Joe; J.J. Abrams' updated Star Trek; Tom Hanks, above, in the Da Vinci Code prequel Angels and Demons; and Will Farrell in a special-effects-laden version of the 1970s Saturday morning TV show Land of the Lost.

. In addition, action star Jason Statham (The Bank Job) spoofs movie car chases in an Audi A6 sedan, above, speeding from Bullitt's San Francisco to Miami Vice in 60 seconds.

Didn't you used to be …

. Reports of Barney Miller co-star Abe Vigoda's death have been mercilessly exaggerated by comedians since 1982. Vigoda lends his voice to an H&R Block ad for income tax services, playing, well, Death, above.

. And ageless Kellogg's icon Tony the Tiger returns, inviting viewers to visit the cerealmakers' Web site ( and nominate a youth sports field that needs rebuilding. Kellogg's will pay the tab.

Fun with cartoons

. General Electric touts its Smart Grid technology, above, with an ad starring a scarecrow resembling and sounding like a green version of C-3PO from Star Wars. Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head will shill for Bridgestone tires.

. Speaking of worthwhile causes, Pedigree dog food has a spot endorsing the adoption of strays, with computer-generated critters wrecking their owners' homes.

Win the Super Bowl pool

. Two lucky viewers will cash in, no matter which team wins. Doritos is offering $1-million to a random fan if the snack giant's ad ranks No. 1 in USA Today's Super Bowl Ad Meter on Monday morning. is hiring a "Director of Fandemonium," with a one-time $100,000 salary and coin toss duties at Super Bowl XLIV.

Grand slams are for baseball

But don't tell the Denny's restaurant chain, touting its hearty, and sometimes heart-spackling, breakfast meals. The ad shows rough, tough cowboys grumbling about "candy breakfasts" served at other places: pancakes topped with lollipops, Gummi bears and whipped cream. That's hitting below the belts with tummies hanging over them.

Steve Persall can be reached at or (727) 893-8365. Read his blog, Reeling in the Years, at

Ads vantage

View every major Super Bowl ad since 1998, plus samples of this year's ads, at

Put these Super Bowl ads on your watch list 01/27/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 9:54am]
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