More shock and schlock than actual sporting event
The Super Bowl is typically an excellent snapshot of the United States of America: over the top, stuffed with largesse, and featuring too many distractions for what is really taking place.
That was pretty much the case again on Sunday.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a football fanatic. And I love funny commercials. The Super Bowl always has a mix of both.
But here’s what’s wrong with the Super Bowl – it’s an entertainment event, rather than a football game. In a contest that crowns the best team in the NFL, the game at times seems like a distraction from a reality TV show.
The Super Bowl is all about money. Money, money, money.
Tickets were reselling for about $5,000 each leading up to the game. Prices like that keep the average football fan on the outside looking in.
The cost of a 30-second TV ad on Fox during the game? Try $5 million. So you had better not lay an egg at that price, yet there were certainly some head scratchers. More on that later.
You would think the halftime performer would appeal to the average football fan, right? Maybe rock, or rap, or even country. Nope. Pop music. Now, Lady Gaga put on a great performance, from flipping her way into the stadium on wires to her ground-level show. But how many typical football fans are Gaga fans?
Ah, but we must remember, most people in the seats at the game – and at home watching on TV – aren’t football fans the rest of the year. They’re tuning in for “the show,” and not “the game.”
I’m a football purist. I dislike the big hoopla of a halftime show. Typical time between halves in an NFL game is a mere 12 minutes – enough time for players to catch their breath, listen to adjustments from the coaching staff and get back out on the field.
For the Super Bowl, the halftime show causes delays of between 30 and 45 minutes. The delay can be a momentum killer.
I’m not sure if that was a contributing factor Sunday, but the Atlanta offence, with the way the first half ended, spent more than an hour sitting, either on the sidelines or in the dressing room. It managed only seven points in the second half, after putting up 21 in the first half. As a result, Atlanta’s defence spent way too much time on the field and ran out of gas.
Then again, if Atlanta’s Alex Mack, one of the best centres in the league, hadn’t imitated a turnstile in the second half, the Falcons would have easily won that game.
On the field, some folks would say it was an exciting match. Most of them would be New England fans. Sure, it was an exciting finish, but in reality, the first three quarters pretty much belonged to Atlanta, and then the Falcons imploded, paving the way for the Patriots to pull it out in the end.
Some great catches and incredible plays throughout, to be sure.
But the game seemed like it had a plot similar to the 2016 U.S. presidential election. One side got so far out in front it looked like the other never had a chance. The leaders took their foot off the gas, lost concentration, took their victory for granted, and couldn’t recover when the other side gained momentum. Like Donald Trump, the Pats took control late, winning in overtime.
Again, the Super Bowl is less game and more entertainment, and the Patriots certainly delivered a Hollywood ending.
Super and pooper commercials
As mentioned, with the fact companies paid $5 million for 30-second commercials, marketing companies went into overdrive to try to capture the viewers’ interest, and eventually, their dollars.
A number of ads took aim, directly or indirectly, at Trump’s platforms and actions to date, including Budweiser, which showed viewers how its co-founder, Adolphus Busch, emigrated from Germany to the U.S. The ad aired at a time when the Trump administration is trying to bar entry to the U.S. for citizens of half a dozen countries.
Bud wasn’t alone, however, as Coke showed people of all races and colour as children sang “America the Beautiful” in different languages.
Airbnb showcased the faces of people of different races, stressing everyone belongs, regardless of race, colour or religious belief.
The commercial for 84 Lumber focused on a long journey by a Hispanic woman and her daughter. Fox wouldn’t let the company show images of a wall, but going online, you can watch the conclusion, where they do indeed encounter a huge wall in the desert. They find a doorway through, with the caption “The will to succeed is always welcome here.”
Truly funny commercials included Bai fruit drink, with Christopher Walken reciting lyrics from an ‘N Sync song. Kia utilizing Melissa McCarthy as an eco-warrior had me laughing. Ditto for John Malkovich trying to get his domain name for Squarespace.
My favourite came from Buick. It involves disbelief over a convertible driving up to a Pop Warner football game being a Buick, and involved NFL quarterback Cam Newton and supermodel Miranda Kerr.
But it seems there are fewer and fewer truly funny ads that air during the Super Bowl. Politics are playing a bigger part these days, for sure, but there are some head scratchers out there, where the ad seems more of a “We have to do something” attempt than “Let’s capture everyone’s attention.” Sad, really. If you are going to drop that kind of money on advertising, make it count.