I admit that I am one of the millions of people who tunes in to the Super Bowl primarily to see the commercials. Seeing the advertising silliness eases the pain of perennially picking the losing team. Anyone who read Unorganized Territory last week knows I backed the wrong team once again, the Denver Broncos.
Sincere apologies and congratulations to my Washington family. The Seattle Seahawks came to play and to win. They earned it and I’m happy for the ecstatic Seattle fans—the “12th man” on the field.
I was forced to console myself with studying the commercials. And in a way, I can justify it. I work at a newspaper, which exists because of advertising. So, watching Super Bowl commercials is actually research for me.
But I was a bit irritated in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl by all the previews of Super Bowl commercials. There were promotional spots on the Internet, in magazines—and even on the network news channels. There were teasers about commercials featuring the yellow M&M character, the Budweiser Clydesdales and the return of the Budweiser frogs, the cute little Cheerios girl and a new Butterfinger treat.
All of these commercials looked like they would be strange or touching or funny—but do we need teasers for advertising? In fact, it took some of the fun out of watching. The curiosity factor was gone.
In the past, part of the fun was the surprise of what was being advertised and how the message was shared. Seeing tough Pittsburgh Steeler Mean Joe Greene turn soft over the kindness of a little boy with a Coke was touching in the 1979 Super Bowl because we weren’t sure what was coming.
The 1995 Super Bowl Budweiser frogs were funny because we weren’t expecting the croaking amphibians to sound out a brand of beer. The puppet animation with its various adaptations—remember the lizards?—through several years of Super Bowls, kept us interested because we didn’t know what Budweiser was going to come up with next.
The more recent talking E*TRADE baby— at the 2008 Super Bowl— was delightful because it is so incongruous to hear a surfer dude/stockbroker voice coming from a tiny toddler body.
But this year probably half of the commercials had already been played, in part, if not entirely. My grandkids and I love the M&M commercials. We knew there would be a commercial featuring the tasty treats, but which color M&M would it be? No surprise—I knew weeks in advance that the yellow peanut M&M would be the Super Bowl star.
The heart-warming Budweiser commercial with a golden lab puppy determined to be with his big Clydesdale buddy—it had been played on the network news and analyzed several times over. It still gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling during a break in the Broncos devastating loss, but it wasn’t as meaningful as if I had just seen it for the first time.
And I guess I got confused with all the previews and reviews of past Super Bowl commercials. I could have sworn that the Budweiser frogs were coming back. I was looking forward to the retro-commercial that never came.
So perhaps I should cease my obsession with these three-to five-minute vignettes. Maybe I should give in and let my husband Chuck have the remote back during the Super Bowl. It goes against every fiber in his being to not fast-forward through commercials when he can. These are just commercials, he argues.
I know he’s right, but I know I’ll keep watching. After all, it’s research!
The truth is the Super Bowl long ago
became more than just a football game.
It’s part of our culture like turkey at
Thanksgiving and lights at Christmas, and
like those holidays beyond their meaning,
a factor in our economy.