Super Bowl 2000 Advertising
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

Super Bowl 2000 Advertising

Introduce a brand new dot-com. Start from scratch. Do it on a limited budget, and in less than 12 months.

Paul Holmes

Introduce a brand new dot-com. Start from scratch. Do it on a limited budget, and in less than 12 months.  


In April of 1999 we developed the first-ever media kit for complete with backgrounders, bios and news releases – and we were off.  Venture capital dollars were flowing quickly, and we knew to compete we had to get on Wall Street’s radar screen – fast.

In October the client came to us with a new challenge: What could we do in a big way that would make the financial community, and consumers, stand-up and recognize so the company could go public in early 2000?  The answer came quickly – not only buy Super Bowl XXXIV commercial time, but maximize it every way possible through a strategic public and media relations campaign.


Our goals were clear: Create consumer awareness of with about-to-be-brides in the middle of planning the biggest day of their lives, and also get on Wall Street’s radar screen –and fast. Venture capital dollars were flowing quickly, and we knew to compete for investors, time was critical.

Our plan, too, was clear: Negotiate the cost of four pre-game and one second quarter spot - and produce five different Super Bowl commercials, while taking a non-advertising approach in maximizing exposure for the client.

A series of news releases and media events began the buzz.  An upscale reception in downtown Orlando - our first play from scrimmage - drew top-level media, including an Associated Press bureau chief and an Orlando Sentinel reporter, as well as potential investors.  An interactive voting campaign (noted in PR Week, Jan. 24, 2000) for the series of commercials was also unveiled and we were scoring with the major media ‘scoreboards.’


Unlike other “dot-coms,” our focus was not tied to advertising exposure alone.  Rather, we aimed to capitalize on media coverage surrounding the Super Bowl – the world’s most-watched television program each year.

The weeks of commercial taping at various sets were followed by an Associated Press reporter/photographer team, crews from each of Orlando’s network news affiliates, a videographer from ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, local print media and a Business Week staff writer.

For an intense four months – especially during three weeks in January 2000 leading up to the game - the Bennett & Company offices resonated with talk of the Super Bowl and the “Angry Brides” and “Town Crier” spots.  Media inquiries were coming fast and furious via phone and e-mail, and many afternoons and evenings found our team stuffing Federal Express mailers with media materials and either VHS or Beta tapes – different formats specifically produced for the needs of different media.  

Our media relations efforts continually scored big as our cell phones rang day and night with interview requests from the FOX News Channel, CNN network shows and MSNBC, among others.

One of our favorite stories is a call we received from the producer of a national news magazine around 8 p.m. on a Friday evening about two weeks before the Super Bowl.  “I’m sure you can’t help me, but I’m looking for a tape of your commercial,” pleaded the journalist, sure she had reached an ad agency, and surprised to learn she in fact had reached a PR firm.

“Would you like Beta or VHS?” replied Laura Bennett, president of Bennett & Company.  “I’ll also send still photography or JPEG files if that would be helpful.”  Following a brief moment of silence, the journalist replied with a simple, yet profound, “Wow. I think I love you.”

“I loved her too when my client saw the pre-game coverage he received,” Bennett recalls.

The media requests continued – kits went out with still shots for USA Today, JPEG images for Advertising Age and VHS or Beta tapes for dozens of broadcast programs.

“Coordinating production and publicity of the Super Bowl commercials reinforced our knowledge that providing a full suite of materials is an essential for any effective public relations and marketing campaign,” Bennett said. “Journalists clamor for graphics and when we are able to offer options and quickly deliver the materials they need, we become invaluable as a story resource.  Our proactive approach definitely held true during the Super Bowl campaign to effectively brand our client.”


Talk about scoring the winning touchdown – we parlayed the media frenzy surrounding the dot-com dominance into editorial clips totaling nearly $20 million in one-to-one ad value in leading media outlets. On ‘game day,’ USA Today’s Ad Meter XII had among its most favorite commercials – the “Angry Brides” spot finished in the Top 20, and our kick-off branding campaign proved to be tremendously successful. was featured on a total of 112 broadcast “hits,” including valuable ‘face-time’ for the CEO 25 times on CNN network shows, mentions on nationally-syndicated shows such as Access Hollywood and Inside Edition, and coverage in all five top United States broadcast markets and eight of the top 10.  

We also secured 450 “hits”- most with accompanying photography - in significant print media covering publications with a circulation of nearly 57 million readers across the country. was seen by readers of Newsday and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on the East Coast; Houston Chronicle and Chicago Sun-Times in the Midwest and The Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Examiner/Chronicle on the West Coast.

The public and media relations campaign designed by Bennett & Company continued to pay dividends well after the Rams defeated the Titans in Atlanta.
In the months following Super Bowl XXXIV, experienced a 700 percent increase in membership – to 800,000 registered users, and the website at its peak was successfully handling more than 7,000,000 page views, 2,000,000 visitor sessions and 1,000,000 unique visitors.

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