AOL, CBS Team For Vintage Super Bowl Ads

America Online and CBS have teamed up to show classic Super Bowl commercials on their respective sites and enable viewers to vote for their favorites.

Featured spots include Apple’s “1984” ad for the Macintosh, (which aired that eponymous year), as well as Xerox’s 1977 ad featuring a monk photocopying his scroll on a Xerox machine.

The move may be a way for AOL to nudge viewers to look out for its new Super Bowl spots. The Dulles, Va.-based giant ISP will air three :30 spots during the game this year, in the first, second and fourth quarters, as well as two :20 spots before the game.

“AOL has done a good job of linking itself to the game and the target audience,” commented Nick Nyhan, president of Dynamic Logic. “AOL wants to be culturally connected to people, and the Super Bowl is one time all of us, or at least many of us, are involved. This is a way for AOL to increase its sponsorship with the NFL and bring back the nostalgia of those ads.”

AOL members can watch and vote at AOL Keyword: Super Bowl. and Non-members can do so through AOL.com and on CBS.com. Voting runs through Jan. 28. Winners will be announced during the CBS special, “Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials,” airing Jan. 31.

The cross-media promotion adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting at least for some, the ads are more important than the game. Digital video recorder company TiVo reported during last year’s Super Bowl, Reebock’s 2003 commercial featuring Terry Tate, a fictitious linebacker, got higher ratings from its users than any actual game action.

According to the “TiVo Game Chart,” an analysis of Super Bowl viewer activity, viewership spiked during commercial breaks as TiVo owners replayed their favorite ads.

“People are buzzing about it,” Nyhan said. “What’s also smart is that AOL is re-branding itself as a broadband channel. Clearly this positions them as a broadband player.”

Nyhan, whose company has conducted cross-media studies for the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), calls the effort an excellent example of cross-media synergies.

“It doesn’t matter if one is TV-based and one is online-based, it’s a way to synch them up and bring one audience to another,” Nyhan said. He noted many CBS sports this year direct viewers to AOL for additional interviews and post-game insights.

“When they presumably could lose [viewers], they have them go online to perpetuate the experience,” Nyhan explained.

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