Standing Out from the Superbowl Crowd

so I couldn’t end the week without making reference to the media buying event of the last week…  first some stats (courtesy of Contagious Magazine) – Super Bowl XLII was tuned into by a total
of 148.3 million viewers world-wide.  Commercial time for the intervals
was valued at approximately $86,000 per second, or $2.7 million for
half a minute.  Oh, and just for reference, the total amount of popcorn
consumed during the behemothic game was enough to stretch around the
world nearly five and a half times.

all very impressive.  indeed you’d hope that upon media real estate of that value, some fairly magnificent structures would be built…  and some were.  you can catch all the ads courtesy of Adage here.  highlights include Thanksgiving Day Parade Balloons fighting over an equally large bottle of Coca-Cola above New York, Will Ferrell suggesting we all grab a Bud Light and ‘Suck One’, which interestingly is exactly what happened to a game Justin Timberlake who spends much of a promo spot for Pepsi being invisibly dragged along on his arse.

but for all their grandeur and flawless execution, all the ads were outdone by the above little bit of work from Fox, promoting the Superbowl itself.  the piece could have been a catastrophe, and indeed has caused not a small amount of discussion (of which a little can be read here).  however it seems to have genuinely captivated not just the audience but the very spirit of the occasion.  writing in Campaign this week Mark Wnek writes:

"This had disaster written all over it and yet…  and yet, turned out to be so utterly mesmerizing a delivery that it completely poured cold water over everything that commercially followed"

a view echoed by one Ed who posted (see the above debate link):

"Such a B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L. commercial.  BEST one in decades c/o
Superbowl.  All the rest, including half time, sucked so bad.
Advertisers & Investors alike, need to rechannel their creative
minds, and stop using ’stupidity’ (like Will Ferrell & witty ad
campaigns) to win their audiences’ attention.  It’s boring.  Super 3D CGI
can only complete so much, but in the end, it’s about the quality, the
words, and the product.  So please, to all you advertisers out there,
STOP BEING SO DAMN CHEAP & Selfish. Come up with a solid &
meaningful pitch, please."

there may be a lesson here… that the very nature of the advertiser / viewer contract gets reversed on an occasion like this.  perhaps the Superbowl does require more than beer and car ads.  perhaps the point of advertising in the superbowl is not to capitalise on the scale of the audience, but to acknowledge and augment it.  what the above Fox spot did was to add a sense of grandeur and occasion to the Superbowl.  it was and is ‘event-making’ in the best possible way.

the UK lacks an equivalent to the Superbowl (I don’t think the X-Factor final really counts), but there are surely occasions even in the UK when advertisers need to back away from just capitalising on a big audience and reverse the logic of their buying the space…  brands should revel in the grandeur of an event, and in doing so help to make that event and it’s aggregation of audience more meaningful as a result of their being there.


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