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Like Chevy and Frito-Lay, NFL Asks Fans to Pitch a Super Bowl Ad

For years, marketers and corporate sponsors of the National Football League have spent millions to craft ads and buy time to reach the huge TV audience of the Super Bowl Sunday with commercials that, in some cases, have garnered as much attention as the game itself. Now, the league is asking the audience to try their hand at making an ad.

The NFL is introducing a promotion that asks fans to come up with an idea for a Super Bowl commercial that has to be football-related, with no other brands featured. The winner's idea will be turned into a 30-second spot directed by Joe Pytka.

Chevrolet and Frito-Lay each are doing similar promotions that allow fans to create a Super Bowl ad for the Feb. 4, 2007, game. So that means three marketers are taking a DYI approach to ad-making for arguably advertising's (and football's) biggest day.

The NFL's promotion, entitled "Pitch us your idea for the best NFL Super Bowl commercial ever. Seriously," begins on Oct. 31 with the launch of nfl.com/superad, which will provide fans complete information about the contest. The website will also include online elements such as a video montage of highlights from auditions, as well as interviews, commentary and commercial pitches from NFL stars and celebrities such as New York Jets linebacker Jonathan Vilma, NFL Network personality Rich Eisen and actor Don Cheadle.

Mr. Cheadle has appeared in ads the league has produced to highlight its playoffs for the last three years.

Beginning on Nov. 16, the NFL will host contest events in three NFL markets to gather pitches from fans. On Nov. 17-18, fans will have their first opportunity to pitch the NFL at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Then, on Dec. 1-2, Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas, will host the second event, with Invesco Field at Mile High in Denver hosting the third the following week, Dec. 8-9.

By Dec. 15, all submissions from the three markets will be scaled down to a total of 12 finalists with their taped pitches posted on nfl.com/superad. The final winning pitch will be determined through a vote by a panel of yet-to-be-determined judges, consisting of various members of the extended NFL family in areas such as marketing, advertising and media, and through an online fan vote at nfl.com/superad.

The online voting period will run from Dec. 15 to Jan. 7. The winner will be announced on Jan. 8, 2007.

Mr. Pytka, the award-winning director of numerous acclaimed commercials, will direct the commercial pitched by the contest winner. In addition, Mr. Pytka will sit on the final judging panel and will review pitches throughout the promotion, offering his critiques on the web site.

The contest winner will have his or her pitch produced into a commercial that will run during Super Bowl XLI on Feb. 4 on CBS. The winner will be invited to the production set to view the filming of the commercial. In addition, the winner and a guest will receive an all-expense-paid trip to Miami to see Super Bowl XLI as a special guest of the NFL.
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