The network, which stands to gross about $75 million from Super Bowl advertisers, finished selling its approximately 58 national 30-second slots a month ago, the earliest in recent memory.
Advertisers apparently have not lost their expensive taste for the big game -- likely to be the most-watched TV event of 1998. Ad rates also approached $1.3 million per :30 for 1997's Super Bowl, and Fox sold off all its units early for that game, too.
Opportunities to buy time during the game may still arise for late coming marketers as current Super Bowl advertisers' plans change.
Advertisers are striving for high marks in commercial creativity. Intel Corp. is said to be considering plugging into the football championship by having its three commercials direct viewers to its Internet site (www.intel.com), where they can make comments on the Intel spots. Euro RSCG Dahlin Smith White, Salt Lake City, is the agency.
Intel declined comment about its plans, and NBC declined to comment about any advertisers.
ORACLE TO BACK COMPUTER
Oracle Corp. is also in, and is expected to advertise its Network Computer, positioning it as a lower-cost alternative to the PC, via agency Think New Ideas, West Hollywood, Calif.
Among the major marketers in the big game are Frito-Lay and Nike, the latter with two spots; Anheuser-Busch and Pepsi-Cola Co. have the heaviest presence.
The broadcast will feature the first national airing of the award-winning spot for Tabasco sauce from E. McIlhenny Sons Corp. and DDB Needham Worldwide, Dallas. The commercial aired in four spot markets during this year's Super Bowl. In the spot, a mosquito explodes after sucking the blood of a guy eating pizza laced with Tabasco.
HORMEL AMONG NEWCOMERS
Among newcomers to the Super Bowl is Hormel Foods, with two spots promoting its reformulated, lower-fat Hormel canned chili. BBDO Worldwide, Minneapolis, handles Hormel; BBDO's New York office creates advertising for a number of other Super Bowl advertisers or potential advertisers, including Pepsi and Visa USA.
Another new sponsor is Network Associates, touting its McAfee anti-virus computer software.
Designer Tommy Hilfiger is signed on for the first time as well.
Anheuser-Busch and Pepsi will have six 30-second units each. At least one of the commercials for Budweiser from Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, is expected to star the lizard characters featured in current ad schedules.
General Motors Corp.'s Pontiac will air a spot featuring various Looney Tunes characters (see related story at left).
NISSAN TO RETURN
Nissan Motor Corp. USA won high marks last year for its "Pigeons" spot, and will be back again with new creative from TBWA Chiat/Day, Venice, Calif. Volvo Cars of North America, via Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, New York, also is in the game.
In the telecommunications category, AT&T Corp. is a definite, and Sprint Corp. may also get a spot.
Various movie studios gobbled up a total of six slots, including Walt Disney Co., which will run a 60-second spot, and New Line Cinema, running two :30s. Universal Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment Co. and Warner Bros. each is believed to have bought a 30-second unit.
Other advertisers in the game include Michelin Tire Corp., Auto-by-Tel and Mail Boxes Etc.
Contributing: Alice Z. Cuneo, Bradley Johnson, Laura Petrecca, Judann Pollack,