The day before kickoff, he'd be a coveted guest at an NFL or network party. Or maybe serve as a host at an event for A-B's distributors. Game day brought a prime seat in a suite. But not necessarily the chance to enjoy it in full as he sat close by the network sales team with more to focus on than the action on the field. (Still a pretty good gig, which he would admit.)
During one game, A-B's deal called for a close-up of a Bud blimp. But the sun hadn't set enough at the Rose Bowl and the logo was obscured. The brewer got another shot later in the game.
Then, there was a quirk during a CBS broadcast, where about 10% of the country had an interruption that affected an A-B spot. CBS didn't have evidence of the trouble, but A-B employees reaching Ponturo by phone did. Then-CBS sales chief Joe Abruzzese took Ponturo at his word -- it proved to be true -- and the network re-aired the spot later in the game.
"Thankfully, other than those two situations ... everything ran smoothly because if something happened once, you're always prepared for a second time," Ponturo said.
Ponturo, who left A-B in late 2008 after InBev purchased the company, attended 26 straight Super Bowls as a "working" guest.
This year, he was invited to Dallas, but opted to focus on his new passion as a Broadway producer. His show "Lombardi," which he orchestrates along with partner Fran Kirmser, has a matinee and the pair are hosting a private gathering for the cast.
During his 26 years at A-B, the calm and classy Ponturo became one of the most powerful sports media and marketing executives and he said he misses some of the frenzy of pre-game week -- where he was also involved in some 11th-hour decisions about which spots would run.
"It was hectic, but it was the sort of the event that you were in the business to do," he said.
When the history of Super Bowl advertising is written, Ponturo's role in helping turn it into part of the zeitgeist shouldn't be underestimated. No doubt some of the fantastic -- and loathsome - spots A-B has run with Clydesdales and "Whassups?" has helped, but along with colleagues, Ponturo identified two crucial strategies that A-B emphasized and other marketers have followed: exclusivity and position.
Neither came cheap, but Ponturo thought the money was well spent. In the late 1980s, A-B began negotiating deals giving it rights as the only beer marketer in the game, which it has maintained since. Deals also partly specified where the spots would run, with A-B nailing down the annual position as the game's first ad.
Ponturo's last Super Bowl deals run through next year's game. When InBev took over A-B, there was some talk the Belgian company would trim marketing expenses and perhaps cut some of the Super Bowl profile.
But it recently announced a deal continuing exclusivity through the 2014 game. And it signed a separate deal to make Bud Light the official beer of the NFL.
"They recognized how big the Super Bowl is," Ponturo said. "But, also how big the whole NFL is. And so to their credit they stayed aggressive." He did, too.