Politicians tackle Bowl for media edge

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POLS TOP BOWL: Maybe it was the lack of a compelling major market team rivalry going into the Big Game. Or maybe it was the emergence of two even more super marketing events during the month of January-presidential campaign advertising and the merger of America Online and Time Warner. But the Super Bowl, a SPINdex perennial, failed to dominate the attention of TV news producers and print media editors this year.

Though Super Bowl XXXIV turned in a respectable SPINdex of 1,076 during the month leading up to this column, it was overshadowed by the sheer magnitude of media attention paid to presidential campaign ads, as well as the advertising implications surrounding the merger of AOL and Time Warner.

That the presidential campaign is attracting this much attention this early in the race is a strong sign that advertising has emerged as a major issue. The SPINdex sample of influential media outlets devoted 306 stories, totaling 197,832 words of copy and 16 minutes of network news time, to the candidates' advertising spin.

As for the news value of AOL/Time Warner, SPINdex has demonstrated numerous times in the past that big media stories play big with the media.

Ranking fourth with a SPINdex of 370 was the International Olympic Committee's new image campaign, and placing fifth was Coca-Cola Co.'s new "Enjoy" theme line and campaign.

Just missing out of this month's top five ranking was apparel marketer Benetton's controversial "Death Row" inmates campaign and Quaker Oats Co.'s resurrection of "Mikey" for Life cereal.

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