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Diagramming an effective ad blitz for the Super Bowl

Times Staff Writer

Hollywood’s infatuation with Super Bowl advertising can be a love-hate relationship: For every great “War of the Worlds” football launch, there’s a “Hulk” preview that leaves the Super Bowl as bruised as a losing lineman.

With 30-second spots costing more than $2.7 million, even a quick Super Bowl pitch can eat up nearly 10% of a movie’s television advertising budget. But because the audience is so huge -- more than 93 million viewers watched last year’s game -- and TV viewers look forward to the commercials, it’s irresistible placement. All of the major movie studios except Warner Bros. are buying at least one spot during the game.

“The commercials in the Super Bowl are in themselves an event,” says Damon Wolf, the president and chief executive officer of Crew Creative Advertising, a leading movie marketing firm. “But what you are putting up there has to deliver. It has to be exciting.”

With Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola, General Motors and even the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy scheduled to be among those running ambitious Super Bowl ads, it will not be easy for the movie studios to make an impression. But if they do, those ads can have an entire second life on the Internet.

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Within 10 minutes of their broadcast, Super Bowl ads can be seen -- and rated -- on www.spike.com, which is the new Web home for a similar Super Bowl ad site started by iFilm.com. Among the football spots, movie ads tend to get special attention.

“The people who go to our site are entertainment enthusiasts,” says Jon Slusser, a senior vice president for Spike Digital. When visitors find a Super Bowl movie ad they like, it can get many repeat viewings -- 5 million unique visitors came to the site after last year’s game.

“That’s the whole point,” Slusser says. “They see an ad during the Super Bowl, and they want to experience it again and share it with their friends.”

Here’s a look at what each studio will be promoting:

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Disney. Look for the studio to run two spots for high-profile summer releases. May 16’s fantasy sequel “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” will receive one of the Super Bowl slots, with June 27’s “Wall-E,” the next animated Pixar film, getting the other position.

New Line. The studio will plug Will Ferrell’s basketball comedy “Semi-Pro,” which opens Feb. 29.

Paramount. The studio has crafted a new commercial for May 2’s “Iron Man,” a movie Paramount and Marvel believes is the next comic book franchise. It will tout March 21’s “Drillbit Taylor” in the pre-game show, and Feb. 14’s “Spiderwick Chronicles” and March 28’s “Stop-Loss” during “House” after game coverage.

Sony. The studio is considering running a spot for July 2’s Will Smith action spectacle “Hancock” but is now putting all its Super Bowl eggs in the basket of Adam Sandler’s “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan,” opening June 6.

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Twentieth Century Fox. The studio contemplated running an ad for March 14’s “Horton Hears a Who” but will instead hawk the sci-fi thriller “Jumper,” opening Feb. 14.

Universal. Probably the biggest Sunday spender of the major studios, Universal will have movie ads throughout the day. April 4’s football comedy “Leatherheads” will be pushed during the game, as will June 27’s futuristic action-adventure drama “Wanted.” Look for spots for next Friday’s “Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins” and the Feb. 19 DVD release of “American Gangster.”


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