February 3, 2009, 12:00 AM

Overstock.com pays to play in the Super Bowl advertising competition

The online discounter’s 30-second spot featured professional basketball player Carlos Boozer. It was the third in a series of national TV ads by Overstock.com aimed at building its brand image.

Unlike the frenzied, early days of e-commerce, few online retailers are forking over big bucks these days to advertise on the Super Bowl. But one exception is Overstock.com Inc., which ran a 30-second spot following the halftime show Sunday at the annual football/advertising TV extravaganza.

The ad featured Overstock spokesman Carlos Boozer, an All-Star professional basketball player, browsing the Overstock.com site for watches while kids surround him asking him about the jewelry on his desk. One kid asks what a necklace is and Boozer says “about 60% off,” and another kid holds up a bracelet and Boozer says, “That’s about 40% off.” When a third child picks up the gold medal Boozer won as part of the 2008 U.S. men’s basketball team, the player says, “That’s about 20 years’ dedication.”

It was the third in a series of TV commercials that aim to associate the Overstock brand with determination, home and community. “Boozer is an outstanding individual who represents the sense of community, hard work, dedication and American values that are Overstock.com,” says Alan Bunton, vice president of brand development at Overstock.com. Overstock began airing the ads nationally Oct. 1.

Overstock did not say how much it paid to run the Super Bowl ad. The NBC network, which broadcast the Super Bowl, had said it was asking $3 million for a 30-second ad.

The online discount site also ran a sale Sunday offering 10% off select items and site-wide free shipping, and a contest that offered a 5% off coupon to visitors who guessed the winner of Sunday’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals. Sales for the day were up about 5% over the previous Sunday, Overstock says.

Overstock is No. 30 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. Patrick Byrne, CEO of Overstock.com, is speaking at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition, June 15-18 in Boston, in a session entitled Rising Above the Economic Storm-How to Thrive in a Volatile Market.

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