This post is
This is a Super Bowl spot article. Sort of. A very late Super Bowl spot article.
This isn’t about blowouts, blackouts, comebacks or safeties. That was just the game. This was about the other spectator sport — watching advertisers endure the joys and agonies of spending three million bucks all at once.
A brief mea culpa for not writing this last Sunday, you know, when it mattered.
But after the game, I began to wonder, what exactly did matter. Has the format gone stale? Has the relevance of what constitutes a Super Bowl spot faded?
Not according to modern media metrics, of course. People let their fingers do the talking, from Facebook to Twitter to YouTube, the audience was engaged and outspoken.
But what about me?
I sat down and confronted a taunting, blinking cursor and a white pixel wasteland and realized I had nothing to say.
I’m sure I could concoct a somewhat-arbitrary list of winners and losers. But, let’s face it — they’re all winners. Even when you talk about the losers and their creative idiocy, you’re still talking about them. Impressions. Hits. Eyeballs. Whatever metric you use, days later, people are still speaking the words Go and Daddy. Does it matter if it’s accompanied by gross, disgusting, stupid or crass? It’s all buzz now, isn’t it?
There’s no such thing as bad publicity — certainly when all publicity is measured the same way.
The biggest problem is now what we expect to see. We know what’s coming. We’ve seen herding cats, talking babies, drum-playing gorillas, and why-1984-will-not be-like-1984. Is the magic gone? Is it going?
Online leaks have murdered the mystery and subjugated the surprise. We knew Volkswagen was “racist” prior to kickoff. We were all affecting our own jolly Jamaican patois by happy hour on the first Friday in February.
We knew Kia was trying too hard, and that if you really like our cars, we’ll kick you across the room. Bang! Respect the tech! Now buy our cars! Or else!
Doritos did their DIY thing again. Clydesdales and Stevie Nicks (Tear.) Audi, to their credit, told us a story. Tide told us a story in which we already knew the ending. In a sign of the apocalypse (maybe the Mayans were off a year), Mercedes advertised on price to a youth crowd who had to Google Willem Dafoe. Oreo was great, but hey, their responsive agency is now expected to work on Sundays.
For the future, the audience has set expectations for what a Super Bowl spot looks like. It’s funny, irreverent, and often times remotely related to the brand. It’s a winning … formula?
But who wants formulaic advertising?
Like the game featuring lightning kickoff returns and lightless third quarters, there was still, however, room for surprise.
Paul Harvey’s somber-yet-inspiring speech reminded us of how seriousness can stand out in the sea of comedy clutter. But if RAM trucks are so great, why are esteemed farmers overwhelmingly choosing Chevy Silverados and Ford F-series?
Maybe that will change. Maybe the formula will change, too.
Maybe next year, this article will just be a list of winners and losers.
That would be more expected.