Every year during the telecast of the Super Bowl advertisers seek to score more points than both teams put together. Because it is always the most-watched television event of the year, the game has become a showcase for new advertising campaigns.
Now, even making fun of the Super Bowl has become a marketing opportunity.
Looking for impact beyond what it could get by simply paying $850,000 to buy a 30-second commercial in CBS's coverage of Super Bowl XXVI, Frito-Lay Inc., the maker of Doritos snack chips, has spent a comparable amount to buy all the commercial time on a special half-hour episode of the Fox Broadcasting series In Living Color that will begin the moment the Super Bowl breaks for halftime.
The idea, which was announced last month, is calculated to play off the publicity blizzard that always surrounds the game. Much of that publicity is inherently repetitious, so a new gimmick always draws attention.
The reason Frito-Lay bought into the idea, said Jerry Noonan, the company's vice president of marketing, is that it saw the special as a way "to break through all the clutter of the advertising world" and to increase public awareness of a new Frito-Lay product, a bite-size version of two flavors of Doritos chips.
The show was brought to Frito-Lay not by Fox, but by Jay Coleman, the president of Entertainment Marketing and Communications International, who has previously paired products and entertainment outlets. He is responsible for matching a Michael Jackson video with Pepsi-Cola in a commercial campaign and putting commercials onto movies on videocassettes for the first time. Like Pepsi, Frito-Lay is owned by Pepsico Inc.
Fox was the logical outlet for several reasons, Coleman said. He mentioned the network's reputation for taking risks with programs but also emphasized that Fox was the only national broadcasting service that would be willing to take on the National Football League.
The three other networks have deals with the NFL and broadcast the Super Bowl on a rotating basis, so each has a vested interest in not seeing the games' halftime ratings diminished. Fox has no deal with the NFL.
There was not enough time before last year's Super Bowl to bring the original idea off, Coleman said. But this year, he refined the idea, seeing In Living Color as the ideal vehicle because it normally is broadcast on Sunday night and because as a sketch comedy, it would easily play off the game.
It could also be flexible in its starting time, and indeed the show will be broadcast live for the first time in the Eastern and Central time zones. (The show will be broadcast at its regular time Sunday night in other parts of the country.)
TBS offering "Eight Hours
of Andy' during Super Bowl
Viewers trying to avoid the gridiron action of Super Bowl XXVI can spend the afternoon in Mayberry. WTBS is offering 16 continuous episodes of The Andy Griffith Show _ Eight Great Hours of Andy _ beginning at 1:05 p.m. As part of the festival, TBS will offer Mayberry trivia buffs a chance to test their knowledge of the popular series with trivia questions that will air throughout the presentation.