Although ad deals for Sunday's Bulls-Pacers game featuring
the much-anticipated return of Michael Jordan were finalized
long-ago, several advertisers scored big with what were expected
to be playoff-type ratings for a regular-season game. Ratings
were not available as of 11:00am EST. RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME:
Chrysler, Toyota and Miller's Lite and Ice brands led the pack
with four spots while Gatorade had three spots -- all featuring
Jordan. Taco Bell, Goodyear and Sharp also ran three ads apiece.
Reebok ran its "Shaq vs. Shaq" spot and Grant Hill was featured
in one of GMC Trucks' two spots. Others: Miller's Red Dog beer
(2), Schick (2), Castrol GTX (2), A-B's Red Wolf beer (2) Bud Ice
(2), AT&T (2), Oldsmobile (2), Army, Navy, Old Spice, Wendy's,
Speed Stick, McDonald's, Coast, Prudential, Chevy Trucks, Coke,
Midas, IBM, Molson Ice, Lexus, Miller Genuine Draft, Nike,
Pringles, Pizza Hut, Dodge Trucks, Carnation Coffeemate, Lincoln
Continental, Lynx Black Cat Irons, Top Flite, and Freeport
McMoran Copper & Gold all ran one ad (THE DAILY). Ad time on
NBC's NBA games are sold out through the playoffs. Only Games 6
& 7 of the Conference Finals and NBA finals have slots available.
Turner's NBA broadcasts are sold out (Dottie Enrico, USA TODAY,
3/20). JORDAN BACKERS: Wheaties distributed black-and-
white placards outside Market Square Arena: "Jordan's back! And
he's eating his Wheaties" (Baltimore SUN, 3/20). It is expected
that General Mills will produce a special Jordan Wheaties box
(Tim Jones, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/19). A new McDonald's Looney
Tunes promotion featuring Jordan, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley and
other NBA stars, begins April 1 (McDonald's). Stock prices for
all of Jordan's corporate partners, including Sara Lee (Hanes),
McDonald's, Nike, Quaker Oats (Gatorade) and General Mills, were
up last week (L.A. TIMES, 3/19). Gatorade debuted a new ad
saluting Jordan's return with footage of some of Jordan's great
moments. The spot aired during Sunday's game (Gatorade).
STRUTTING PEACOCK: Rather than show the Bulls-Pacers game
in just 53% of the country as originally planned, NBC expanded
its scope to 98% sending the Jazz-Hornets game to only the teams'
home markets. Yesterday's noon slot has been the lowest-rated of
NBC's NBA telecasts because it competes with CBS' NCAA Tournament
coverage. NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol: "I'd assume we'll
do much better. We're down 3 to 4 percent this year, and we
should make it back today" (Richard Sandomir, N.Y. TIMES, 3/20).
NBC broke into its programming on Saturday to report Jordan's
return. In Chicago, Steve Nidetz writes, "Networks used to break
into programming to report the ending of wars or the
assassination of a president. Now they interrupt shows to report
that a jock, finding himself unable to play another sport, is
returning to his first love." An NBC official was asked Saturday
why the news bulletin was necessary, when the network could have
waited until 1:00pm, when it had a sports show planned. She said
Jordan's comeback "meant as much to business as it did to sports"
(CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 3/20).
RATINGS: Nielsen Media Research VP Ward Woodhead predicted
25% of households in Chicago and 12% of households nationally
would tune in (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 3/19).