Super Bowl Ads Seen as Cautious This Year

ByABC News via GMA logo
February 4, 2005, 12:41 PM

Feb. 5, 2005 — -- For many people, half the fun of tuning in to the Super Bowl is watching the commercials. Companies spend millions for just half a minute of airtime, so viewers have come to expect the spectacular.

This year, advertisers will spend a record $2.4 million per 30-second spot, and Anheuser-Busch (the makers of Budweiser and Bud Light) is this year's top advertiser, with five spots.

But despite all the money and marketing hype, Bob Garfield, a columnist for Advertising Age, says that this year's crop of Super Bowl ads is, for the most part, a major disappointment.

"It's a pretty pitiful year, I gotta tell you," Garfield told "Good Morning America." "This year, the Super Bowl is interesting not because of what ads they're showing but what ads are not going to be seen."

Janet Jackson's infamous "wardrobe malfunction" at last year's Super Bowl halftime show has had a chilling effect on advertisers' and networks' willingness to take chances, said Garfield.

"The Janet Jackson fiasco has the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] on the warpath, it has the NFL on the defensive and it has broadcasters curled up in the fetal position," said Garfield.

Despite the timidity of many advertisers, Garfield said there were a few standouts. He called a Budweiser commercial featuring the signature Clydesdale horses "charming," and another Budweiser ad saluting U.S. troops "tasteful and poignant."

MasterCard also scored with a feel-good ad featuring iconic brand images -- think Charlie the tuna, the Planters Peanut and the Poppin' Fresh Doughboy -- having dinner together.

There is also no shortage of celebrities from the hot to the washed up, including Sean "Puffy" Combs, Cindy Crawford and "Desperate Housewives" star Eva Longoria in a Pepsi spot, rapper MC Hammer shilling for Frito-Lay and Burt Reynolds in a FedEx ad.

Garfield singled out the credit card company MBNA's ad featuring Gladys Knight playing rugby as one of the worst.