If you watched the Super Bowl for the game this year, you had a great show. Seattle and New England both played with heart, with great defense from both teams, and nail-biting edge-of-your-seat moments that exemplify the excitement of football. The very last couple of minutes in the game were jaw-dropping.
If you’re someone who tunes in just for the commercials….well, not so much excitement this year.
Super Bowl commercials are the most highly-anticipated advertisements of the year, raking in an exorbitant $4.5 million for a 30-second spot and upwards of $8 million for 60 seconds. Not to mention the millions spent in production prior to the airdate.
They can charge so much because the Super Bowl is THE prime real estate in advertising. The most highly-viewed television show in the US, with an estimated record 114.4 million for 2015’s game.
And the commercial doesn’t just air at the game. It’s replayed on Good Morning America, the Today show, YouTube, Facebook, and anywhere else people are talking about what’s hot and what’s not for weeks after the game. It’s the ultimate exposure for a company or cause. So advertisers pull out all the stops, striving each year to have the hit that becomes water cooler legend.
An estimated 50% of the viewers who watch the show say they’re only there for the commercials–waiting to see what will happen to old favorites like the Budweiser Clydesdales or the crazy antics of Doritos-lovers.
This year’s lot was somewhat blah. No breakout favorites. No jaw-dropping feats or side-busting hilarity. The Budweiser puppy being rescued was definitely a contender, as was Fiat’s mini-movie with the little blue pill. Mindy Kalig, Pierce Brosnan, and Lindsey Lohan gave us a chuckle by being to laugh at themselves. Breaking Bad fans were thrilled to see Walt suit up again for Esurance. As someone who has been compared to Marcia Brady/Maureen McCormick since childhood, I especially enjoyed the Snickers Brady Bunch ad. (you can see all the SuperBowl 2015 ads by clicking here)
But what set Twitter and Facebook afire Sunday night wasn’t a funny, clever or crazy ad. It was the plethora of downbeat and downright depressing ads. Nationwide punched viewers in the gut with a young boy regaling all the life moments he would never live to drive home the sobering statistic of childhood deaths by preventable accidents.
Altima paid heftily for 90 seconds of an often absent dad torn between home and work while Harry Chapin’s Cats in the Cradle played in the background. The sad and poignant ad ended just before the tables turned in the final verse of Chapin’s classic, somehow leading viewers to believe the father-son relationship could be mended by a luxury car.
Viewers were encouraged to view girls as equals and to appreciate dads more than ever. A chilling 911 call reminded viewers that domestic violence is a very real and prevalent problem that needs to be addressed.
Many have argued that these messages were entirely appropriate and warranted with such a large audience and an opportunity to inspire and encourage change.
I feel like there’s a little gray area here, though. I’m not sure I agree. I am all for a powerful, thought-provoking message. I do not hesitate at all to share several of them on a regular basis on Facebook and Twitter.
However, I think there is a time and a place for messages to be presented and best received. And I’m not sure the SuperBowl, an event synonymous with beer drinking and eating chicken wings, is the most effective place to convey it.
It’s a party. It’s a celebration. One of the biggest social events of the year that crosses generations, cultures, religious beliefs, and even politics.
People want to laugh. To enjoy something fun and crazy and endearing. To high-five each other and tweet and text and share the laughter.
The commercials this year were a huge downer. Even with the incredible adrenaline and excitement generated by the game that night, we found ourselves almost dreading the next commercial break. Leery of watching and finding something depressing. Scared of being punched in the gut—a gut full of pizza and chicken wings.
The ads definitely got talked about—which Nationwide said was the goal, opening a dialogue or conversation about such important topics. But did the messages truly get taken to heart in that environment? Is it wise and effective to put out the message just because you have a captive audience???
I remember growing up in Pensacola, and there were people who would stand on street corners at traffic light screaming scriptures at people in their cars stopped at red lights. They screamed and spittled and wailed about the fires of hell and the dangers of living life away from Christ. They were even known to throw Bibles in open windows at times, startling and frightening drivers and passengers alike.
Even though I was brought up in a Christian home and attended church regularly, I was amazed and dismayed by these street corner prophets. I always wondered why they thought anyone would suddenly have an epiphany of wanting to follow Jesus because they’d been screamed at and spit upon. Why would anyone under that verbal assault think to themselves, “This is a great idea. I should look more into this and see what it’s all about.” I always thought it was more likely to turn people away and make them go as fast as they could in the other direction. Not to mention risk their lives running yellow lights to keep from stopping.
Those prophets had a captive audience for their message. They had a message to send. And I am sure it started conversations and dialogue when the drivers recounted the experience for their friends. But was it received in a good way? Was it effective in conveying the message and having it be heard with an open heart?
I don’t think so.
I’m not trying to compare preventable childhood accidents with religion, but I’m interested to hear your views. I’ve seen many comments defending the commercials and saying those companies and organizations were right to use the size of the amount and the sheer magnitude of exposure to drive their messages home. I’ve seen many against the ads, though, asserting that it wasn’t the right time or place and ended up falling on deaf ears or causing scorn and ridicule.
So tell me what you think.
1. Did you like this year’s Super Bowl ads?
2. Did you feel they were appropriate in their timing and audience?
3. What was your favorite and why?