An estimated 120 million people watched the Super Bowl yesterday – a figure which sets advertisers drooling. So while US$4 million for a 30-second promotion seems like a lot of dosh, per capita, it’s almost a bargain.
According to a fascinating article in The Atlantic, “On a per-person basis, the Super Bowl is the same price as buying a typical 30-second primetime spot any weekday of the year.”
So what tone do advertisers think will appeal to viewers of this festival of joyfully exploitative commercialism? This year, after an exhaustive research program, we can report that it was #niceness. According to the New York Times, “Most of the commercials that Fox broadcast nationally during Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday sought to invoke fuzzy feelings that would warm the cockles of consumer hearts, if not MetLife Stadium. The television and social media audiences were exhorted repeatedly to forget their troubles and put on a smiley face.”
There were a few fart jokes and some innuendo (a beer ad is a beer ad), but the trend clearly was away from the risqué commercials of years past.
Many of them used hashtags like #ifyourehappy, #AmericaIsBeautiful, #KissForPeace, and yes, even #NiceHashtag. Even the Jaguar ad (some of those 120 million viewers must have a job!), whose hashtag was #GoodToBeBad, was secretly Nice.
Does this mean that Madison Avenue will soon be taking a pledge to support family values? Nope. More likely than not, it is just linked to sunspots and the North Atlantic Cultural Oscillation between class acts and crass acts. But enjoy it while you can.
Here are MercatorNet’s Annual Superbowl Ad Awards.
The Cute Puppy Award of 2014 goes to Budweiser. This slick fantasy about the friendship of a puppy and Clydesdales clocked up millions of hits on YouTube long before kick-off.
The Adorable Toddler Award of 2014 goes to Cheerios, in which a little girl with sweetly tousled hair learns that she is going to have a baby brother soon. And a cute puppy.
The Celebrity Retread Award of 2014 goes to Chrysler. They recruited a heavily made-up Bob Dylan to sell the glory of Made In America. While it doesn’t have the coherence and the conviction of Eminem’s “imported from Detroit” ad in 2011, it really packs a punch. And when Bob says in his flat, raspy voice, the voice of the Baby Boomers, the voice of laconic American pride, “So let Germany brew your beer; let Switzerland make your watch; let Asia assemble your phone. We…will build…your car,” you feel like standing up and taking the Pledge of Allegiance — even if you secretly buy a Kia, even if Chrysler is Fiat Chrysler nowadays. This is more than an ad; it is a work of art.
And the You Read It First in MercatorNet Award of 2014 goes to Jaguar. Early last year I asked in Conniptions “Why, when Hollywood is casting a truly sinister villain, do they recruit someone with a British accent?” Jaguar answers this question, or rather, rejoices in it, with Ben Kingsley, Mark Strong and Tom Hiddleston doing their sneering, supercilious, sinister best to be #goodtobebad. Proves my point, what?
Michael Cook is editor of MercatorNet.