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Betting on Super Bowl -- ads?
BetOnSports sets odds on which ad will win USA Today poll; so far, Budweiser's on top.
February 4, 2005: 6:20 PM EST
By Joseph Lee, CNN/Money staff writer
Anheuser-Busch plans to air eight 30-second and one 60-second commercials, promoting its Budweiser and Bud Light beers, during the Sunday broadcast.
Anheuser-Busch plans to air eight 30-second and one 60-second commercials, promoting its Budweiser and Bud Light beers, during the Sunday broadcast.
One of Pepsi's Super Bowl commercials features Eva Longoria, star of ABC's
One of Pepsi's Super Bowl commercials features Eva Longoria, star of ABC's "Desperate Housewives".
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NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - To many watching the New England Patriots-Philadelphia Eagles matchup this weekend, the game's outcome will take a back seat to the Super Bowl's advertisements.

BetOnSports.com, a sports gambling site, said many bettors are wagering not only on the game but also on the ads.

San Jose, Costa Rica-based BetOnSports, which bills itself as the world's largest online gambling site, said it is setting odds and taking bets as to which ads will win the online poll conducted by USA Today following Sunday's game.

Anheuser-Busch, the parent of Budweiser and Bud Light, which won the poll for the past three years, has once again received overwhelming confidence from gamblers.

At 1-to-30 odds, the beer maker is the front runner on BetOnSports.com. But higher odds could equal smaller winnings. If a bettor wages $30 on Anheuser-Busch, and it wins, the profit would only be a buck.

"It's the power of the brand, combined with their judgment and creativity, that makes Budweiser successful," said David Carruthers, CEO of BetOnSports.com.

Players are also betting on the fact that Anheuser-Busch will be airing a total of nine commercials -- the Super Bowl's largest single advertiser. If any one of Bud's nine ads wins the USA Today poll, anyone betting for Budweiser will win.

The beer maker is thrilled to have the public support.

"There is no other media event in which we can reach so many beer drinkers at one time, which makes this a very efficient media buy for us," said Bob Lachky, vice president of brand management at Anheuser-Busch.

But this year, the company, famous for its racy ads, plans to go light on the raunch and clean up its humor. The beer maker was criticized last year for ad gags including a flatulent horse and a crotch-biting dog.

This will mark the 17th consecutive year Anheuser-Busch (Research) has been the exclusive beer advertiser during the game, according to the beer maker, the deal is locked up through the 2006 Super Bowl.

Distant second

Last year's favorite was this year's distant second place. At 15-to-1 odds, Pepsi is tied with hot sauce maker Tabasco.

In all, the site lists odds on 28 Super Bowl advertisers, and has another choice for all other advertisers, which includes the so-called "head-to-head" matchups.

BetOnSports.com paired up companies in the same industries, such as McDonald's with Subway and Volvo with Cadillac.

Advertisers will pay Fox, who is broadcasting the game, a record price, averaging $2.4 million for a 30-second spot, up more than 4 percent from the average price paid last year, which was about $2.3 million.

It's worth every penny according to online market research firm InsightExpress whose study found that of those planning to watch this year's game, about 43 percent said they are tuning in specifically to watch the commercials. Last year an InsightExpress post-game survey found that 50 percent of the viewers tuned in only for the ads.

But Lee Smith, president of InsightExpress, said the popularity of the ads remained high and that discussing them has become a part of pop culture. "The desire [is] to stay current with pop culture and to be included in Monday morning's post-game discussions," he added.

Visa, FedEx among long shots

Long shots include credit card company Visa USA and shipping giant FedEx Corp. which are introducing their first Super Bowl ads ever. BetOnSports puts their odds at 30 to 1.

Other long shots: McDonald's, Frito-Lay and Subway.

Carruthers said bets on the Super Bowl ads grew about 15 percent from last year, the first time the sports betting site allowed such bets.

The average of such non-traditional bets, known as proposition bets, should be $25, up from $23 last year. Other proposition bets include which player will win the MVP and who will score the first touchdown.

Carruthers said these bets are the fastest growing segment of online gaming, and that this segment of the online betting market is making the greatest inroads with female and young bettors.  Top of page

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