Coke to advertise at Superbowl after eight years away

LONDON - Coca-Cola is to make a return to the Super Bowl with its first ad breaks in the game in nearly a decade.

The Superbowl, arguably the biggest day in the US sporting calendar, always attracts the biggest-named advertisers with a 30-second slot on CBS costing upwards of $2.5m. Coke has bought two first-half slots for 60- and 30-second Coke Classic spots crafted by creative agency Wieden & Kennedy.

The animated 'Videogame' ad is set to air, sources have said. The creative shows a driver racing through the streets in a fast car in the style of console games such as 'Grand Theft Auto'. His mood softens after he stops for a Coke. 

He then goes on to hand a fistful of money to a street musician, put out a fire and return a stolen purse to an elderly pedestrian. The 60-second ad closes with the familiar "Coke side of life" tagline.

Coke last advertised on the Super Bowl in 1998. However, in recent years Coke has been content to buy the spots bracketing the programme and let competitor Pepsi dominate the in-game ads. This year, however, Coke and Pepsi will go head-to-head with at least 90 seconds each during the game itself. Pepsi is also sponsoring Prince's halftime performance.

So far the Super Bowl programming for the February 5 game has sold approximately 80% of air time. Other advertisers include Fedex, Doritos, Honda, Toyota, Taco Bell and Budweiser, which will make a return to the humorous style ads that it is famous for.

According to the Wall Street Journal, among the ads being considered to run on Super Bowl night is a spot that shows some smart-alecky crabs making off with a cooler of Budweiser from a group of unsuspecting bikini-clad women. Another spot shows two astronauts trying to share a Bud in space. Both ads were crafted by Omnicom Group's DDB.

Britney Spear's estranged husband Kevin Federline is planning to be the butt of his own joke in an ad for Nationwide Insurance. He will be seen rapping on a huge stage, but the performance turns out to be a daydream while working in a fast-food restaurant.

Federline said: "I felt that it was a good time to come out and make fun of myself. It really works for me. I try not to take myself too seriously."

Coca-Cola's top marketer Mary Minnick left the company last week to move to the UK and pursue personal and professional goals. Minnick helped to revive Coke's performance following a period of sluggish growth.

She introduced the "Coke side of life" global campaign in December 2005 that was created by Wieden & Kennedy.  Before this, the 23-year veteran of the company served as president and COO of Coca-Cola Asia.

Immediately after Super Bowl XLI all Coca-Cola ads that aired during the game will be available for viewing on cbssportsline.com and on the homepage of mycokerewards.com.

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