NEW YORK (CNN/Money) -
The Lingerie Bowl, the controversial pay-per-view Super Bowl half-time program, won't have its model/players on the field wearing lingerie, the show promoter said Tuesday, but denied he was pressured to do so by its sponsor, Dodge.
Executives from the show's sponsor, automaker Chrysler Group, were quoted in the Wall Street Journal Tuesday putting some distance between themselves and the show's plans, and saying they were seeking some changes in the marketing and promotion of the show in the face of criticism.
But Mitch Mortaza, president of Horizon Productions Inc., said despite the name of the show and promotional photos showing players clad in lingerie with numbers stitched into bras, the plans have always been for players to wear slightly different outfits. The women players -- seven on each side -- will wear short shorts instead of panties and a sports bras decorated with lace, rather than lingerie tops. They'll also wear shoulderpads, helmets and other protective equipment not shown in promotional photos.
"We always intended sexy but supportive uniforms," he said. The players will model lingerie in a 10- to 15-minute show immediately before the 20-minute game is played, he added.
Mortaza denied that Dodge had pressured Horizon to make any changes in the show, although he did say that executives had talked to promoters about the marketing in the face of criticism.
"How we're marketing is a very sensitive subject to them right now," he conceded. "They wanted to be reassured this will be marketed properly, tastefully."
He also said he didn't think the show would lose any viewership because of more discreet uniforms. He said he expects the broadcast to reach 4 million to 4.5 million homes at $19.95 each, plus a number of bars and clubs, during the half-time of the Super Bowl Feb. 1. And he said he doesn't believe Horizon will have any trouble finding sponsors for future years due to the criticism Dodge has received. Some other game sponsors have contacted Horizon about tie-ins to this year's show in recent days, he said.
"In the end we believe we'll provide a strong return on investment for Dodge with their core demographic -- ages 18 to 34, primarily males," he said. "I imagine they'll be very happy with their investment."
The Journal quotes Dieter Zetsche, the CEO of the North American unit of DaimlerChrysler (DCX: up $1.00 to $42.44, Research, Estimates), Tuesday as saying he and his top lieutenants were unaware of plans to have the company's Dodge brand sponsor the show until it had been approved by a lower-level employee.
"I am responsible for everything we do at Chrysler, but I didn't know about it," Zetsche told the Journal.
But Chrysler spokesman James Kenyon denied Dodge is trying to distance itself from the show.
"Perhaps this game is not quite what some people thought. It's not a group of women playing in nothing except lingerie," he said. Asked if Dodge was seeking changes due to protests, he said, "I don't think we're less enthusiastic. We're proceeding forward with sponsorship of the game."