Coke Returns to Super Bowl

LOS ANGELES Coca-Cola will advertise during the Super Bowl for the first time in nearly a decade, the client has confirmed.

Coke said it would air three spots during the game. A 30-second slot on CBS’ Feb. 4 telecast costs upwards of $2.5 million.

One of the commercials set to air is the animated “Videogame.” It debuted theatrically late last year and on broadcast TV last week during the premiere of American Idol. The execution shows a man careening through the streets in a muscle car in the style of a game such as Grand Theft Auto. His mood softens after he stops for a Coke—ultimately, he hands a wad of cash to a street musician, puts out a trash fire and returns a stolen purse to an elderly pedestrian.

Another spot, “Happiness Factory,” has run in theaters and on the Web. It debuts on TV this week during Idol. The ad provides an offbeat take on what goes on inside a Coke vending machine.

“Both ‘Videogame’ and ‘Happiness Factory’ are larger-than-life ads, so we think it’s only fitting that we share them with the massive viewing audiences, said Sandy Douglas, president of Coke’s North American operations.

The spots were crafted by independent Wieden + Kennedy and carry the “Coke side of life” tagline touting the flagship Coke Classic brand. Wieden’s Portland, Ore., office produced “Videogame,” while its Amsterdam, the Netherlands, outpost contributed “Happiness Factory.”

The company would not disclose any details about its third in-game commercial, other than to say it had been created specifically for the Super Bowl.

Coke last advertised on the Super Bowl in 1998. In recent years, the client has been content to buy the pods immediately prior to the telecasts and let competitor Pepsi dominate the in-game airwaves. Last year, for example, Coke bought the pod immediately prior to the game’s start in order to launch its Full Throttle beverage.

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.

A representative at Pepsi’s Purchase, N.Y., headquarters declined to comment on which brands it will advertise on the Super Bowl. Of Coke’s participation, th rep said, “Very few advertisers are comfortable being on the world’s largest TV stage every single year. We thrive on the Super Bowl spotlight. It’s been part of our game plan for more than two decades.”

Immediately after the broadcast of Super Bowl XLI, the Coke ads that air during the game will be available on and

The Super Bowl is approximately 80 percent sold out in terms of commercial time and more than 90 million viewers are expected. Other advertisers include Anheuser-Busch,, General Motors,, Nationwide Mutual Insurance and Taco Bell.

The client spent about $130 million last year in U.S. measured media for its Coke Classic brand.

The Super Bowl buy comes as Coke makes changes in its marketing structure. The company is reorganizing ahead of Mary Minnick’s departure, and most marketing, brand strategy and product innovation functions will now report to newly appointed COO Muhtar Kent.

“It’s too early to tell what impact if any, the changes will have on any of our partners,” said a Coke representative when asked earlier this week about potential changes to the agency roster.

—with Gregory Solman and Kenneth Hein

This story updates an item posted Jan. 23 with additional details.