Super Bowl Ads Push Viewers to Web

With the Super Bowl over, advertisers who anted up more than $2 million for a 30-second commercial time slot are turning to Internet campaigns to maintain buzz for their brands.

Take Reebok, for example. The Canton, Mass.-based sneaker manufacturer returned to the Super Bowl for the first time in eight years, running a one-minute commercial that featured “Terrible Terry Tate, Office Linebacker,” a Lawrence Taylor clone inclined to make bone-crushing tackles on office workers who commit faux pas like failing to refill the coffee pot or playing solitaire on their computers.

Judging from the results of various polls, the Arnold Group-produced commercial was a hit. In an poll, the spot ranked No. 2. Ad agency McKee Wallwork Henderson polled 167,000 Super Bowl viewers for its AdBowl. Reebok’s commercial ranked third most popular, beaten only by Federal Express’ “Castaway” spot and Budweiser’s “Clydesdale Replay” commercial. TiVo’s audience measurement stats crowned it the most-watched ad of the night, beating even the game itself in drawing viewers.

Interestingly, Reebok products do not make an appearance in the ad. That’s apparently where the Internet is supposed to come in. In spots running soon, viewers will be directed to a Terry Tate Web site Reebok has set up at There, a viewer can view up to four four-minute Terry Tate vignettes that feature the aggressive enforcer of office decorum. Reebok plans to release the short films over the next few weeks, extending the Super Bowl campaign beyond the game. The hook is that a viewer wishing to see the films need to join “Terry’s team” and submit names, e-mail address, sex and age to Reebok. The site offers a chance to opt-in for more info from Reebok about the office linebacker.

Reebok is not alone in its interactive tie-in. Pepsi ran an extensive ad campaign on Yahoo! in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, encouraging users to vote for which ending the company should use for its Sierra Mist commercial. According Pepsi, over 200,000 users voted. The winning ad, “Monkey Catapult,” apparently proved a hit with viewers, sliding into the No. 5 slot in the AdBowl rankings.

Another Pepsi ad, featuring the Osbournes, was previewed on Yahoo! the day before the game. The Pepsi and Pepsi Twist Web sites also carried behind-the-scenes footage of the making of the ad in the weeks before the game.

Another campaign looking for life after the big game is Levi’s blitz for the launch of its Type 1 line of jeans. At the beginning of the month, the jeans company launched a four-week campaign to build buzz for its Super Bowl ad. Levi’s plans to give away a jewel-encrusted pair of Type 1 jeans, with the winner selected from a pool of contestants who guess the hidden jeans’ location based on clues gotten on the Web site and through the Super Bowl spot. Contestants have until tomorrow to cast their entries, which also requires they submit demographic information.

All those sites were reported to be functioning well, while other advertisers were not so lucky. The Hulk might be powerful, but his servers’ strength is apparently more along the lines of Bruce Banner’s. According to Web performance measurement firm Keynote Systems, the Hulk’s Web site wobbled under a deluge of visits during the game, which featured an advertisement for the upcoming Universal Pictures movie. Keynote said the site’s response time slowed to 20 seconds, while its availability dipped as low as 90 percent.

Likewise, Cadillac’s Web site had significant availability problems during the game, dropping as low as 83 percent with a six-second wait for those getting through.

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