Few Blockbuster Celebs, But No Slouches Either

There are few superstar athletes on the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers, save for Tom Brady. Likewise, there are few superstar entertainers in the commercial lineup of more than 20 advertisers scheduled to air ads during this Sunday’s Super Bowl XXXVIII on CBS.

In years past, Beyoncé, Britney and Michael have stolen the spotlight with spectacular Pepsi spots from BBDO. This year, though, Pepsi is shying away from high- voltage celebs. In fact, the soft-drink marketer’s tie-in with Apple’s iTunes Music Store stars people who have illegally downloaded music on the Internet.

Still, at $2.3 million per 30-second unit, not all of the advertisers were comfortable without a famous face or two. They’re just not that famous.

AOL will tout its Top Speed Technology by featuring the Teutul family, the bad-boy stars of the Discovery Channel reality series American Chopper, in an ad from Wieden + Kennedy. For Staples, Joe Viterelli (Jelly in Analyze This) does his Mafioso schtick in a 30-second spot from Martin/Williams.

Willie Nelson is back for H&R Block—selling the Willie Nelson Advice Doll in an ad from Campbell Mithun. And singer Tim McGraw and basketball star Rick Fox pop up in an Anheuser-Busch responsibility spot from DDB.

One mega name is on board: Muhammad Ali. He is the focus of a spot from Ogilvy & Mather for IBM, but even he shares the stage with the little blond Linux boy.

Humor still dominates, as in Publicis’ spot for Procter & Gamble’s Charmin toilet paper, which plays on the football phrase “end zone.” Animals, another Super favorite, are also out in force. A Bud Light ad from Downtown Partners, Toronto, centers on a showdown between a Border collie and a mutt. And Goodby, Silverstein & Partners offers a 60-second Budweiser spot about a donkey who wants to be a Clydesdale.

As always, there are some firsts. Among them: Deutsch’s debut for Monster; the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s first spot showing teen drinking (from Foote Cone & Belding); and Staples and P&G’s first time in the game.