Coca-Cola unveils Super Bowl presence

Coca-Cola Co. plans to have two minutes of commercials on the Feb. 6 FOX broadcast of Super Bowl XLV. At an estimated $93,000 per second just for the airtime -- roughly $5.6 million a minute -- the challenge is to make those 120 seconds count.

The Super Bowl is "a is natural place for us to be," said Pio Schunker, senior vice president for creative excellence at Coca-Cola North America.

In one commercial shown in a webcast Monday, two guards march stiffly on opposite sides of a desolate border checkpoint before a Coke brings them together in a gesture of friendship. Schunker said the spot, shot in Morocco last year, was not a reference to any particular troubled border.

"In a divided world, Coke unites," he said.

We'll see what PepsiCo has to say about that. The Purchase, N.Y. company plans a half dozen spots on the broadcast, with perhaps three of them dedicated to Pepsi Max, Coke Zero's primary competition.

PepsiCo surprised the advertising industry last year when its beverage brands took a pass on the Super Bowl, leaving the soft drinks field open to Coca-Cola. The tactic drew attention to the Pepsi Refresh Project, which gives out millions to charitable organizations and projects chosen by fans, such as animal shelters and playground construction.

"Pepsi has done a huge shift from last year," said Tim Calkins, clinical marketing professor at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. "You don't want to leave a huge media event all to your competitor. They clearly concluded that, going forward, they need to be in the game."

Every year, brands such as Budweiser and Doritos vie for top rankings of Super Bowl advertising, such as USA Today's Ad Meter. Katie Bayne, president of sparkling beverages for Coca-Cola North America, said both critics and everyday consumers are important.

"What the critics write about and what the consumers vote on, all of those people are Coca-Cola consumers too," she said Monday. "Everything that's written about the brand is important. We value everyone's judgment."