For example, many of those who shelled out $1 million to be official Super Bowl sponsors won't be advertising during the Jan. 29 game in Miami between the heavily favored San Francisco 49ers and the San Diego Chargers. Instead, they're opting for promotions and buying time in Super Bowl-related programs.
Miller Brewing Co. is one sponsor that chose not to advertise during ABC's telecast of the game. Instead, it has been running a promotion offering commemorative footballs. The brewer has also been running a commercial from the Leap Partnership, Chicago, that follows the Super Bowl career of fictional quarterback Elmer Bruker.
In addition, Miller is sponsoring "Dan Dierdorf's Super Bowl Special," airing on 191 stations on Super Bowl Eve.
Coors Brewing Co. is a notorious Super Bowl "ambush marketer." Coors is neither a Super Bowl advertiser nor official sponsor, but it launched a national "2 to Win" promotion created by Integer, Boulder, Colo., offering prizes to the first 100 callers who phone an 800-number after a two-point conversion during playoff games or the Super Bowl. Separately, a "Coors Light Channel" spot from Foote, Cone & Belding, Chicago, satirizes Anheuser-Busch's Bud Bowl.
Another official sponsor that's skipping the game is Coca-Cola Co. The marketer is running Super Bowl-theme TV spots from Creative Artists Agency, Beverly Hills, Calif. But most of Coca-Cola's Super Bowl marketing will center in south Florida, where it will sponsor two NFL events.
NFL Properties, the marketing arm of the NFL, has become increasingly concerned about ambushers, and reached an undisclosed settlement with Coors concerning the brewer's activities.
Gary Gertzog, VP-legal and business affairs and general counsel for NFL Properties, said the league for the first time has taken action to try to stop ambushes, though he admitted there's not much that can be done.
Letters were mailed to south Florida non-sponsors--including media outlets, bottlers and fast-food chains--warning them not to use Super Bowl marks and logos in advertising or promotions. This week, the NFL breaks a sponsor recognition campaign that will run in USA Today and on TNT's "Super Bowl TV." It will also assemble a team of lawyers and investigators who will crack down on ambushers.
The NFL really doesn't mind marketers riding the Super Bowl's coattails, as long as they don't use the official marks or logos. So Arthur Andersen & Co. (see Garfield, Page 3) didn't get into trouble with its commercial centering on the "big game."