Considering the going rate for a 30-second spot during this year's Super Bowl ($1.3 million), it's hard to imagine that NBC would be quick to turn down anybody willing to pay the fee. However, as Hoffman/Lewis in San Francisco and its client Vivus now know too well, money can't convince NBC executives that impotency and its treatment are suitable subject matter for the Super Bowl's primarily male viewing audience.
In fact, Vivus' spot (shown here) for its product, Muse, is fairly tame. An all-text message on a yellow background is read by Ed Asner, who begins, "Attention impotent men ... all 20 million of you." The spot displays phone numbers and warns of possible side effects from the drug.
"We feel we chose a tasteful, honest message that does not offend, and believe that the millions of men in the U.S. with this condition will be grateful to know there are solutions out there," said Hoffman/Lewis general manager, Josh Nichol.
NBC did not return calls for comment by press time.
- Jane Irene Kelly