Tue, Feb 03, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Flatulent horse and aspirational donkey round off `Ad Bowl'

REUTERS , NEW YORK

Juvenile humor dominated commercials at the Super Bowl this year as many advertisers aimed to please the widest possible audience and shied away from controversial or subtle statements.

Gags such as a flatulent horse and a crotch-biting dog made for the most popular ads during the annual contest to create memorable commercials for the year's biggest audience.

Advertising critics said they were mostly underwhelmed by the offerings which skewed heavily to a young male audience and were more impressed by the seesaw National Football League battle which the New England Patriots won 32-29 against the Carolina Panthers in the game's final seconds.

"The humor has just gotten to such a base level," said Steven Addis, chief executive of the Addis Group branding agency, shortly after Sunday night's game. "There seems to be an unwritten rule in advertising that men can only be spoken to in a stupid way."

Barbara Lippert, advertising critic for trade report AdWeek, said many of the 30-second spots failed to deliver on the rising expectations, and prices, of Super Bowl ads.

"I think sometimes they get so scared that so many people are watching that any kind of distinctiveness is cut out," Lippert said. "Even though they took real risks in what they were paying for the spots, they didn't take risks in the commercials."

Viacom television network CBS raked in an average of US$2.3 million for each 30-second spot broadcast during the game in Houston, Texas.

Brewer Anheuser-Busch, a Super Bowl stalwart which bought the most commercial time during this year's game, produced at least four of the five most popular spots for its Budweiser and Bud Light beers, according to two viewer polls.

Responses from 100,000 viewers to America Online's Ad Poll showed viewers were most amused by a Bud Light spot in which a gas-stricken horse fouls a couple's romantic carriage ride.

Next in line, an inspirational tale has a donkey striving to join the ranks of Budweiser's trademark Clydesdale horses. The No. 3 spot shows a rivalry between two men over dog training which ends when one of the pooches wrests a Bud Light for his owner by biting into a sensitive spot.

Ad agency Mckee Wallwork Henderson said preliminary results from its annual "Ad Bowl" gave first place to a surprising Chevrolet ad showing children forced to wash their mouths out with soap after uttering their amazement over a new model.

In other adverts, football hero Mike Ditka took a swing at baseball in an ad for anti-impotence treatment Levitra. A fictional Jimi Hendrix as a boy made a plug for Pepsi cola, while cartoon buffoon Homer Simpson put in a good word for MasterCard.

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