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Giving the world a slice of Tampa Bay

Official poster for Super Bowl XXXV - the third in Tampa - combines notable landmarks from the area.

By BRUCE LOWITT

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 2, 2000


The idea is to capture the atmosphere of the host city and the essence of one of sports' biggest events. And, of course, to feature the Vince Lombardi Trophy, the visual symbol of the Super Bowl.

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[NFL Publishing Group]
"I try to bring in colors and things that you wouldn't normally think would be in a poster," says Brad Jansen, executive art director for the NFL Publishing Group in Los Angeles.
That, in short, is the Super Bowl XXXV poster, obtained by the Times on Friday. "I try to bring in colors and things that you wouldn't normally think would be in a poster," said Brad Jansen, executive art director for the NFL Publishing Group in Los Angeles. "If you just show the trophy with the city's skyline every year, it gets a little monotonous. I try to bring something that adds a little electricity, a little charisma to it."

Jansen has been designing posters for the NFL's championship game since Super Bowl XXVI in Minneapolis, the year after the Tampa Bay area hosted its second Super Bowl.

After Jansen has done his research to get a feel for the city, he sketches about a dozen ideas, one of which will end up on Super Bowl posters, programs and elsewhere.

Jansen has never been to the bay area. But after studying numerous sources, "I got a sense of the city and its landmarks," he said, "including that wonderful looking bridge (the Sunshine Skyway), the two sets of chopsticks with the cables connecting them."

He shows his ideas to executives of NFL Properties (of which NFL Publishing is a part). They winnow them down to about a half-dozen, which go to New York. There, Jim Steeg, director of special events (basically, he runs the Super Bowl) and his staff study the different approaches.

"Typically, they'll like one (potential poster) better than the others," Jansen said. "Occasionally they'll combine something from one into another, or get rid of part of one."

On the San Diego poster for Super Bowl XXXII, for example, "I had this wonderful, colorful poison tree frog sitting on top of the trophy," Jansen said. "But it reminded them of the Budweiser frogs, so we had to retouch it out."

You won't see a pirate ship and treasure chest in this year's poster. Or a cruise ship, or a macaw. They were ideas that didn't make the cut.

Nor for that matter, will you see St. Petersburg.

"My job is to represent the host city, and the name of that host city is Tampa. Tampa Bay is a body of water near Tampa," Jansen said, unaware of the passion the subject generates here.

What you will find if you study the poster is No. 35. Not the Roman numerals; the cardinal numbers. He's been hiding the number of the game in each poster since he began designing them. "Just an element of fun," he said, "something cool to do that I know about and share with a few other people."

With the winner selected, Jansen does more research to find the best artist to produce the final poster. He found Dave Schweitzer of Saukville, Wis. ("I like his stylized realism") for this one.

"The phone call, that's always fun," Jansen said. "Half the time it's the first time I've called someone and it's like, "Oh, my God, there's this guy on the phone who wants me to to the artwork for the biggest sporting event in the world!' They're overwhelmed."

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