DETROIT (Reuters) - DaimlerChrysler's Chrysler division, bowing to critics, said on Wednesday it was abandoning plans to sponsor a Super Bowl Sunday televised football game featuring underwear-clad models.
The "Lingerie Bowl 2004" -- a tackle football game to be played by 14 women models wearing bras and panties -- was to have been sponsored by Chrysler's Dodge brand and broadcast on pay-per-view television at halftime during the National Football League's championship game on Feb. 1.
"Halftime has never been this sexy," reads one headline from the event's Web site (http://www.lingerie.com).
Dodge, whose advertising features the slogan "Grab Life by the Horns," was to have had its ram's-head logo emblazoned on bras worn by the models. Critics dubbed the event sexist, however, and senior Chrysler officials have been distancing themselves from it since last week.
Proceeds from the event were originally due to benefit the American Foundation for AIDS (news - web sites) Research, but it too severed ties with the game. A source close to Chrysler said conservative lobbying groups had flooded the company's e-mail system with complaints about the upcoming spectacle.
"You've got at some point just to decide 'OK, maybe we made a mistake, let's pull the plug,'" the source said.
In a statement formally announcing the withdrawal of Dodge's sponsorship of the Lingerie Bowl, George Murphy, Chrysler's senior vice president of global marketing, dismissed it as "a distraction" that had taken the spotlight off the company's cars and trucks. He did not elaborate on the controversy, which first came to light several weeks ago.
A spokeswoman for Horizon Productions Inc., the Lingerie Bowl's producer, said it was "disappointed" that Dodge had withdrawn its sponsorship, but that the game would go on.
Obviously, this game was to be played in a "domed" arena.........