Insurance is not as sexy as lingerie, but an insurance giant has paid $1.5 million for two Super Bowl Sunday ads in a bet it can bring a smile to viewers' faces while building its brand.

Hartford Financial Services Group, the top seller of annuities in the United States, will run two 30-second ads - one during the pregame show and one during the third quarter of the game. This is Hartford's Super Bowl ad debut.

To grab the attention of viewers-who'll also see ads from the lingerie seller Victoria's Secret, the World Wrestling Federation, Apple Computer, and others-the Connecticut insurer will run spots that make light of the risks facing the man on the street.

In one, a pedestrian unwittingly walks beneath a baby grand that's plunging down the side of a skyscraper. In the other, a bounding kangaroo clears a high zoo gate and falls toward the camera.

The ads, which kick off a $20 million yearlong print and television campaign, are built around the tag line "Whatever Life Brings You Bring it on."

Hartford thinks the money for the two Super Bowl ads is well spent because of the game's audience, said Cynthia B. Michener, a Hartford spokeswoman.

"The Super Bowl is the single most watched event on television, so it's a good way to make a bang," she said. "It's the best and one of the most diverse markets."

Insurance is an intangible product, and the goal of the ads is to leave viewers with a positive and confident image of the insurer, she said.

Ms. Michener said the company hopes the humor will leave a lasting impression. The advertising campaign, designed by Arnold Communications of Boston, is aimed at Hartford's target market of 35- to 64-year-old Americans whose annual household income exceeds $60,000, she said.

The Super Bowl advertising blitz garners almost as much attention as the game itself. As a group, Hartford and about 29 other advertisers will pay historic prices for the spots this year-about 23% more than in past years.

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