News > Companies
Betting on Pepsi, Bud or Charmin
Online betting site starts taking bets on which of the Super Bowl ads will win popularity vote.
January 28, 2004: 2:28 PM EST
By Chris Isidore, CNN/Money Senior Writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Many viewers of this weekend's Super Bowl will tune in for the commercials as much as the game itself. Now they can join fans of the game and place bets on those ads.

The online betting service is setting odds and taking bets as to which ads will win the online poll conducted by USA Today following Sunday's game.

Ads from Pepsi are the favorite in the online betting line for what will be the most popular Super Bowl ad.  
Ads from Pepsi are the favorite in the online betting line for what will be the most popular Super Bowl ad.

The favorite, at 5-to-6 odds is soft drink brand Pepsi, which means that if you bet $60, you can win $50 more. A minimum bet on the ads is $10. The chance of winning with a bet on Pepsi is helped by the fact that the company is airing multiple commercials. If any of them wins the poll, a Pepsi bettor will win.

Pepsi spokeswoman Nicole Bradley said the company was pleased but not surprised it had been rated as the favorite.

"We bet on ourselves every year," she said. "The reason we've been advertising on Super Bowl for 19 straight years is it generates a lot of buzz among people watching the game."

Pepsi and its Sierra Mist brand soft drink will air five new commercials during the game. Among the spots one features 16 of the teenagers sued for illegally downloading music to promote the company's new free music download promotion, one features the image of a young Jimi Hendrix choosing Pepsi over Coca-Cola, and one shows bears ignoring food at a camp site because they are more concerned that the Pepsi cooler is empty.

Procter & Gamble's first Super Bowl ad, for Charmin toilet paper, is a long-shot bet at 200-to-1 odds.  
Procter & Gamble's first Super Bowl ad, for Charmin toilet paper, is a long-shot bet at 20-to-1 odds.

Officials with BetonSports had to set the odds without seeing most of the ads but it had seen a description of many of the ads.

"It's like handicapping a horse race," said David Carruthers, CEO of, which bills itself as the world's largest online gambling site. "We look at pedigree of the brand, the quality of the trainer, which would be the ad agency, then look at the course and distance, which in this case means how many ads are going to run."

Brewer Anheuser-Busch is next with 6-to-5 odds. In all, the site lists odds on 21 of the Super Bowl advertisers, and has another choice for all other advertisers, which includes half-time sponsor America Online, Pizza Hut, Visa, most of the movie ads, along with the White House's anti-drug ad. That combined betting choice, which pays if any of these ads wins, has 2-1 odds.

The ads on the Super Bowl, going for a reported $2.25 million for a 30-second spot, have become a major attraction to the year's most-watched television show. A survey of 500 Americans conducted by online market research firm InsightExpress found that of those planning to watch this year's game, 50 percent said they are tuning in specifically to see the commercials.

Charmin, Staples among long shots

Among the long shots is the first Super Bowl ad from consumer products firm Procter & Gamble, which is advertising its Charmin toilet paper ad. BetonSports puts its odds at 20 to 1. A company spokeswoman said the company isn't necessarily surprised by the long odds.

Super Bowl
Casinos and Gambling

"We would love to be the most popular. But when we're competing with such long-time advertisers as Anheuser-Busch and Pepsi, we have to be realistic," said Melissa Hale. "We hope we come out a happy medium (in rankings)."

Other long-shots include ads from major drugmakers and office supply store Staples, which has 30 to 1 odds. Two public service spots, an anti-smoking ads from Philip Morris and the American Legacy Foundation, have 50 to 1 odds, as does an ad from Walt Disney Co.'s Buena Vista Pictures.

Carruthers said he expects gambling on the ads to be in the low tens of thousands of dollars. The average of such non-traditional bets, known as proposition bets, should be $23. Other proposition bets include which player will win the MVP and who will score the first touchdown. He expects the total wagered on the game by the average BetonSports customer to be $111.

Click here for more on the business of sports

One other ad-related item that BetonSports is taking wagers on is the winner of the Lingerie Bowl, the pay-per-view half-time show featuring seven-on-seven football between lingerie models. Each team has 5-to-6 odds.

Carruthers said the proposition bets are the fastest growing segment of online gaming. In addition to the Super Bowl ads, the site was taking bets on who would get Oscar nominations and who would win the New Hampshire primary. He said that segment of the online betting market is making the greatest inroads with female betters as well as younger betters.  Top of page

  More on NEWS
Anheuser-Busch orders 800 hydrogen-powered semi trucks from Tesla rival Nikola
H&M and Zara ditch mohair wool after animal cruelty expose
US and China kick off talks to avoid a trade war
General Electric gets booted from the Dow
Elon Musk: Tesla worker admitted to sabotage
Starbucks says it will close 150 stores next year

graphic graphic