It’s that time of year again. Americans are celebrating Super Bowl Sunday tomorrow. They want you to think it is a big deal.
If you didn’t know already, it is a championship football game. That’s American football, which is no relation to what the rest of the world calls football.
It must be a big deal, they tell us, because a thirty second long commercial on the game broadcast will cost advertisers 4.5 million dollars. That is an increase of 500,000 dollars over last year’s broadcast. When they charge that much for advertising it is an indication that a lot of people are expected to watch the broadcast.
Advertisers and organizers are hoping for a record crowd. And please note: I said they are expected to watch the broadcast, not the game. The game is secondary when it comes to the Super Bowl. That is a good thing, as it is usually a pretty boring contest. People tune in to see the half-time show, usually a pretty popular music act, and the commercials. Especially the commercials.
Canadians are upset because they get different commercials, but this week they got some good news. Our broadcast regulator will allow the American commercials to be shown, starting in 2017.
It used to be, and still is to some extent, that corporations would save their best new ads for the Super Bowl, hoping for not only a large audience but also perhaps some news coverage of their great commercial. That still happens, but not as much as in the past. The method of reaching consumers with a visual method has changed. The commercials are now on YouTube within seconds of their first broadcast, if not before the game. On that platform people choose to watch and re-watch; that in theory should make the message more effective. But I am not convinced.
I’m a sports fan so I don’t watch the Super Bowl (remember, the game is usually dull; why would I want to watch a boring game?). However, I occasionally do see one of the much-heralded commercials, especially if someone I know posts one to Facebook. So I saw the commercial that generated the most talk last year.
I even remember it, in a vague fashion. Something about a horse and a puppy. I think the purpose was to sell beer. It didn’t work, at least not for me. I think it was supposed to give me a warm fuzzy feeling and in my weakened emotional state I was supposed to rush to the Beer Store and make a purchase. Instead it left me wondering why it was necessary to engage me emotionally. Did the product not stand on its own merits? (The cynic in me suggests that broadcasting rules have changed, that you can no longer show scantily clad men and women having a good time drinking beer, so they go with puppies instead. Maybe this year it will be a kitten.)
So while the rest of North America (and supposedly a good portion of the rest of the world) is watching the Super Bowl tomorrow I have made other plans involving a comfortable chair and a good book, perhaps with some music playing in the background. I’m sure I’ll find out Monday morning who won the game, or at least who had the best commercial.