Ad Track: Advertisers turn to live sports to zap ad zapping

Playboy will dive into the beverage business with a namesake energy drink that features its iconic bow-tied bunny on the can. While it doesn't specifically promise to juice up your sex life, it's made with ingredients said to raise energy levels: ginseng root, guarana extract and damiana leaf.

The $1.99 bunny brew is rolling out in Boston, then shows up in Miami, Los Angeles and Las Vegas in March. While senior Playboy Hugh Hefner doesn't partake in energy drinks, the company's public relations folks say all visitors to the Playboy Mansion in Los Angeles and mansion party guests will be offered the beverage.

Now that's giant.

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning may be a Super Bowl MVP, but he's going to have to compete for attention with a real giant next season. Going up just steps from Giants Stadium in New Jersey is a 2.3-million-square-foot Xanadu entertainment complex capped by a 287-foot Ferris wheel with the red, white and blue Pepsi logo on its side. The soft-drink company paid an estimated $100 million for 10-year rights to sponsor The Pepsi Globe, visible for miles.

The wheel, similar in design to the United Kingdom's 443-foot London Eye, opens in November. It'll offer a 25-minute ride in 26 glass-enclosed, climate-controlled capsules with views of the New York skyline and Hudson River. As it might also provide a good camera position for Giants' practices, you might run into some New England Patriots taking a spin.

Applicants welcome.

Love basketball? Looking for a new job? Describe your hoops passion and "dynamic" personality in 200 words or less at, and you could win one of four positions in Coke Zero's dream job promotion.

Those who win the jobs won't be getting a cushy corner office, but they'll get to live large in a 40-foot luxury motor coach parked at NCAA Final Four host city San Antonio from March 16 to April 5. The job requirements: Watch 122 hours of NCAA Tournament basketball on flat-screen TVs and blog about the experience.

There's no salary, but the "workers" get some considerations, including a $75 per diem for expenses, free travel accommodations, lots of Coke Zero and a personal escort by former NCAA and NBA star Sean Elliott to lower-level seating for the Final Four.


Q: Has Verizon changed the actor who used to say, "Can you hear me now?" (The present guy) seems to resemble the original guy. What happened?

A: He resembles the original guy because it's actually him. Paul Marcarelli may look different because he's seven years older (the Ad Team also thinks he's lost a few pounds). Verizon Wireless has used him since 2001 and still does. Last week, he appeared in an ad to promote $99 unlimited calling. Over the years, he's been in more than 250 TV ads and twice that number of print and billboard ads.

Marcarelli, from New York, wears his own horn-rimmed glasses in the ads and is in the same Verizon Wireless worker jacket. He first appeared as the "Test Man," based on an actual worker who tests the network's coverage. Now he stands with an army of others who represent the Verizon network.

"You see him with more people, but it's the same person," says Brenda Raney, Verizon Wireless spokeswoman.

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