DETROIT -- General Motors spent millions to make Cadillac the official vehicle of this year's Super Bowl. But those who watch the Feb. 5 game at Detroit's Ford Field, on TV or in person, may see more Ford ovals than Cadillac crests.
Ford Motor Co. paid $40 million in 2002 to place its name on the stadium for 20 years. The company has an exclusive contract for auto advertising within the stadium.
GM asked the NFL to remove Ford Division ads from the stadium for the Super Bowl, says Cadillac marketing director Jon Brancheau. The league refused, because Ford's stadium advertising contract includes the championship game.
Cadillac General Manager Jim Taylor concedes: "Obviously, this is a unique situation with the Super Bowl in Detroit and having a car company's name on the stadium."
Ford Division spokeswoman Marisa Bradley says the company "knew the Super Bowl was coming" when it signed the stadium contract. Ford Division has five ads in the stadium's concourse. It has several more ads or logos within the stadium bowl, including signs near the two biggest scoreboards.
A large "Ford Field" sign appeared on the stadium in recent weeks. Last spring, a sign that includes the Ford blue oval was painted on the roof -- a natural shot for the Goodyear blimp.
Steve Tihanyi, GM's general director of marketing alliances and regional programs, says the company has waived its exclusive promotional rights in a "clean zone" near Ford Field.
The Super Bowl's host committee asked GM to do so, Tihanyi says, so the group "could raise necessary funding" for the Motown Winter Blast festival that precedes the game. The Big 3 are sponsors of the festival in downtown Detroit.
But GM retains a big advantage, notes Cadillac sales promotion manager Jennifer Cadicamo. Under its contract with the NFL, GM is the only automaker that can use the words "Super Bowl" in its advertising. Detroit area Ford dealers refer in their ads to the "big game."
Cadillac, Pontiac, Ford Division and Toyota have bought TV advertising time during the Super Bowl. Cadillac will present a 2007 Escalade to the most valuable player.
ABC is broadcasting the game.
Ed Erhardt, president of customer marketing and sales for ESPN/ABC Sports, calls the Super Bowl "the one true media event where sports fans and others come with one thing in mind -- to watch ads."