This Sunday, you can expect upwards of 173 million Americans to be glued to a television, watching the battle unfold between the Patriots and the Giants. But of those 173 million viewers, only 47.3 percent are tuning in for the game.
The Super Bowl is a rare social phenomenon; beside the World Cup and the Olympics, it remains one of the only media events to reach a mass audience — and advertisers have been more than happy to take advantage of it. The game is now known just as much for the football as for the commercials; more than a quarter (25.8 percent) of viewers watch Sunday night specifically for the ads.
In 1967, NBC charged $37,500 for 30 seconds of advertising space during the first Super Bowl; this year, the network is raking in $3.5 million, and $4 million in at least one case, for the same airtime.
Soon to boast the largest viewing audience with the price tag to match, Super Bowl XLVI promises to deliver the best of the advertising world. Expect to see the regulars — Doritos, Budweiser, GoDaddy.com and Pepsi — but be prepared for some newcomers.
There really is no fear of spoiling any of the ads this year, as the companies themselves have already done it. Instead of the traditional teasers, a considerable number of advertisers have released longer versions of their commercials, opting for a shorter spot during the actual game. It smacks of Apple’s “1984” ad, which revolutionized the presence of commercials in the Super Bowl. Based on the ads available today, companies have implemented some innovative strategies, taking advertising techniques in a new direction.
This year marks the integration of social media, allowing fans to analyze the game and the commercials with one another. Coke and Chevy are notably incorporating Twitter and Facebook into their advertising strategies, enhancing the Super Bowl experience with corporate interaction. Coke will donate $1 for every bottle of Coke that is virtually gifted on Facebook while Chevy is offering up new cars and other prizes to users who answer trivia questions using social networking programs.
Of course you still have Danica Patrick threatening to flash the camera, but 2012 is the first time I have ever heard a business description from GoDaddy.com. They still have the hyper-sexualized content, now including Jillian Michaels, but for once you actually get confirmation that the company sells internet domain names, not porn.
Audi also surprises a bit, branching out from its typical luxury and performance-based message to appeal to a younger audience. It makes a quip about the vampire craze that so many of us are over, cleverly comparing their headlights to the sun. Part of me wants to buy a new car just so I can show my appreciation for “#solongvampires.”
One of my favorite changes has been that of Sketchers. Earlier this month, Huffington Post tweeted “Kim Kardashian Replaced by a Dog.” Naturally I was intrigued. Last year, Kardashian starred in Sketchers’ Super Bowl ad, practically referencing her infamous sex tape as she dumped her trainer for her new Shape-Ups. This year, Sketchers favored “Mr. Quiggly,” an adorable French Bulldog sporting some bright red GOruns in a race against greyhounds. The commercial itself didn’t seem too great, but the headline made me laugh a little, despite Sketchers’ insistence that their “great relationship” with Kardashian continues.
On the other side of the spectrum lies H&M’s ad for David Beckham Bodywear. As much as I admire Beckham’s body, I can’t help but wonder what the advertising execs for H&M were thinking when they decided on this particular campaign. Unless they thought most of the women watching would run out after that 30 second ad to get their guy some David Beckham Bodywear during the second quarter, I’m sensing some issues understanding the general demographic of the Super Bowl.
Downy and Honda succeed in making things a bit less awkward, evoking feelings of nostalgia by bringing back some classic oldies. Downy plays off of the old Coke ad featuring “Mean Joe Greene,” advertising Unstopables. But Honda might have the most successful run this year, casting Matthew Broderick in a reprisal of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” As he sits in traffic next to his boss, you can’t help but remember the classic film and its fun-loving message.
With Sunday looming near, go search YouTube for those teasers so you get the jokes when 6:25 p.m. rolls around. Check back early next week for my appraisal and criticisms — I might still be laughing over a really immature Budweiser commercial.