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Ad Review Rating: 3 stars SWEEPSTAKES ADS CAPTURE THE $10 MILLION MAGIC

By Published on .

Fun Super Bowl practical joke/armed robbery idea:

Rent a charcoal gray van and a TV camera. Immediately after the big game ends, pull up to the victim's house, turn on the TV lights and ring the doorbell. Enjoy the hilarity as the poor sap is fooled into thinking he's won the $10 million Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes grand prize.

Then either share a great laugh or hold him at gunpoint and steal all of his belongings.

What better way, as the PCH ads from Deutsch, New York, have been encouraging us straight through the holidays, to "be a part of something magical"? The only more satisfying eventuality would be answering the door to find the real Prize Patrol, accepting the gigantic check and then sharing one or more of your naked buttocks with approximately 100 million mesmerized viewers.

Through the lens, off the dish, off the satellite, into the co-ax, nothing but network.

But no matter how you shake it, the live-on-TV giveaway promises to be the (post-literate) cultural event of the year. However it turns out, it's irresistible.

Many viewers will be glued to their TVs not only for the vicarious thrill of seeing an ordinary American plucked from obscurity and enriched beyond his or her wildest dreams, but also against the chance of seeing the Prize Patrol on a $1 million live hookup ringing a doorbell again and again and getting nothing in response but a muffled dog bark, for what would be the greatest TV anti-climax since Geraldo blew Al Capone's vault and what was left of his journalistic reputation.

But, of course, there's also the potential for unprecedented TV drama, the gluteal exposure being just one charming possibility.

It would also be extremely dramatic if the door were opened by some guy, rousted from romance, in damp BVDs. Or in high heels and a Wonderbra. Or maybe the winner will hail from Louisiana where, answering the doorbell to a stranger after dark, he would feel obliged to shoot first and ask questions later.

The possibilities are endless. That's why the Prize Patrol will try (without, we presume, resorting to gross invasions of privacy) to ascertain the where-abouts of the winner before the bell gets rung, lest the advertiser get its bell rung. But it hardly matters, because, YOU, PUBLISHERS C. HOUSE of Port Washington, N.Y., have already won The Grand Prize!!!

The whole raison d'etre of these sweepstakes is to get potential magazine subscribers involved with the contest. The more involved they are, the greater the chance that they will stick the little stickers in the appropriate entry-form box. And the more they stick little stickers in boxes, the greater the chance that they'll subscribe to Horse & Rider at the special Publishers Clearing House price of $17.95 for 12 issues, and savings of $17.45 over the single-copy price.

Well, a month before the Super Bowl, America is already involved. The spots promoting the big TV event have themselves been mundane, but all they needed to do was convey the facts, and the excitement, and they have.

Even if the Jan. 29 live broadcast is a total fiasco, any backlash would be postponed to next year's January drawing.

Or, as it may come to be known: Butt Bowl II.

Ad Age Bulletin Board on Prodigy, or by Prodigy E-Mail at EFPB35A.

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