BOWL POSTMORTEM: TADPOLES, AD POLLS

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Not since Moses stuck it to Pharaoh has one word been on so many lips: "Frogs!!!"

Anheuser-Busch's commercial starring frogs croaking "Budweiser" was a big favorite among Super Bowl ads in balloting by Advertising Age readers.

Also, if the nearly 300 respondents to the fax ballot are any indication, Frito-Lay may have added a new sobriquet to the language with "pretzel boy."

The Budweiser spot, A-B's last advertising from D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, St. Louis, and the Rold Gold pretzels ad, featuring Jason Alexander from "Seinfeld" and created by DDB Needham Worldwide, Chicago, were among the ones most mentioned in the balloting.

A total of 39 respondents named the Rold Gold ad as the best spot during the Super Bowl. Many said they were fooled into thinking Mr. Alexander had actually parachuted into Joe Robbie Stadium (see story on Page 38).

The frog spot didn't fare quite as well, with only 30 respondents citing it as the best ad during the game; nine others called it the worst. Comments ranged from a simple declarative "Frogs!!!" to "Loved those frogs" and "The whole room laughed the loudest." On the other end, "Frogs-yuck!" and "This is supposed to sell beer?"

One respondent took A-B to task: "I certainly hope you are aware that the highly touted Budweiser `Frog' commercial is a direct rip-off of a very famous Rainier beer spot from the 1970s that is a cult classic in Seattle."

The biggest ad scorer was Pepsi-Cola Co. On a scale of 4 stars, Pepsi scored an average 3.4, tying for the top spot with Frito-Lay. Pepsi's new spots from BBDO Worldwide, New York, teamed up to snare 84 mentions as "best," blowing away all contenders.

Respondents were generally stingy with their stars. The Super Bowl is touted as a platform for unveiling new cars, but auto marketers on Super Bowl XXIX-Chrysler Corp., Ford Motor Co., American Honda Motor Co., American Isuzu Motors and Toyota Motor Sales USA-collectively averaged just 1.8 stars.

Two ad newcomers to the Super Bowl had radically different results. No Fear ran an in-house created spot that featured a fearless cowboy but none of its "attitude wear." Most respondents were not impressed, giving No Fear an average of 1.7 stars and remarks like "What's the product? What's the benefit? What do I care?"

Wilson Sporting Goods Co. fared better with a spot from Ogilvy & Mather, Chicago, showing David slaying Goliath with a rock on which a "W" is carved. Wilson scored an average 2.9 stars, with 35 "best" mentions. "Biblical epic rocks," one respondent proclaimed, while another said, "My born-again Christian friend laughed."

And speaking of a Goliath in sports marketing, Nike and agency Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, Ore., scored 2.5 stars with the return of Dennis Hopper's Stanley Craver character. Hopper fans raved-the spot got nine "best" mentions. But it also got 22 "worst" mentions. "*`Stanley' is too psychotic," one respondent said. Another warned: "Dennis Hopper character reminds me of a stalker-not good!"

Of those who rated the game itself, 80% gave it 2 stars or less. But most stuck it out to the end. Of those answering the question, 83% said they sat through the four quarters that saw the San Francisco 49ers thrash the San Diego Chargers, 49-26.

With a little more sensitivity, the ad-watching experience could have been more enjoyable for some. Said one respondent: "Watched game with a hearing impaired person. Unfortunately most ads did not have closed caption. Ads would have been more effective for them if they included caption."

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