Super Bowl


Biggest Government Ad Buy Ever for a Single Event

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WASHINGTON ( -- The White House anti-drug advertising program will break two anti-terror ads on the Super Bowl in the biggest single-event
White House spending $1.6 million each for two TV spots.
government advertising buy in U.S. history.

Media buying sources say the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy will likely pay over $1.6 million per spot. The drug office will get free matching spots from Fox Broadcasting Co. in other high-profile events.

Outside normal channels
The drug office will use the Super Bowl positioning to break a new campaign, developed by WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather, New York. It is the first major effort created since the start of the drug office advertising program in 1997 that goes outside the normal channels of the Partnership for a Drug Free America.

Two 30-second spots produced by award-winning iconoclastic British director Tony Kaye suggest illegal

Tony Kaye dressed up as a sleeping Osama bin Laden. Read the Kaye profile in Ad Age's Creativity.
drug sale profits may help fuel terrorism. Neither the drug office nor Ogilvy would discuss the ads, and the drug office also declined to say why it didn't develop the creative with the Partnership.

The drug office also declined to comment on why a British director is producing such a prominent campaign from the American government.

Mr. Kaye is director of commercials and U.S. feature films such as New Line Studio's American History X. He has occasionally dressed as Osama bin Laden in appearances in New York comedy clubs.

Attempts to reach Mr. Kaye's agent were unsuccessful.

By law, media companies that want some of the ad buys must provide a free ad or something of equal value for every paid ad. Lately the drug office has shrunk the alternatives to providing a free ad.

Unsold Super Bowl slots
Fox has been having trouble selling

Super Bowl spots this year as the economy and the availability of other marquee events like the upcoming Winter Olympics vie for attention. Fox has two to three spots left to sell as of today and hopes to have the rest sold in the next two days, according to sources at Fox.

Normally the Partnership develops themes for the drug office ads and then selects ad agencies to produce the ads. Up to now Ogilvy managed the account and bought media time with media shop MindShare and produced

some minor ad creative for niches or publications in which Partnership creative didn't fit. Ogilvy's only big creative work on the account had been done as part of an effort for the Partnership.

The drug office ads will be only the second time in recent years that the government has run national advertising on the Super Bowl, although the agency had bought local spots during the game. In 2000 WPP sibling Y&R Advertising, New York, spent slightly less than $1.5 million for a single ad for the Census Bureau on the Super Bowl. That year Super Bowl ads were selling for between $2.3 million and $3 million. This

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year they have been selling for far less.

Ogilvy's last hurrah
For Ogilvy, the creative on the Super Bowl could be a last hurrah on the campaign. Accounting and billing issues that have resulted in an ongoing criminal investigation of the agency has prompted the drug office to put its account into review.

The selection of a winner is expected in March. Ogilvy remains among the competitors for the account.

Wayne Friedman and Richard Linnett contributed to this report.

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