Hundreds of thousands of people wait in anticipation for the Superbowl to come around each year. To watch their favorite teams? To watch the most highly sought prize for the professional football player? No, they watch it for the commercials.
I myself have always been a commercial nut. My mother tells me when I was 5 years to 10 years old I would stop playing (or whatever I was doing) to run into the television room to watch the commercials. Then I would return to whatever activity I was doing at the time until the next commercial break. I am glad to see I am not alone in this habitual undertaking. I have observed in a sports bar that while the Superbowl game was being played there was much hustle and bustle with conversations all around. That is until the commercial breaks at which time the entire place would be silent and most everyone’s attention would be focused on the screens throughout the sports bar.
The commercials themselves have become the event inside the event to watch each year. Marketing professionals battle to see who can push the limits and boundaries by producing the most talked about commercial for the Superbowl. Who will win the contests for the most talked about commercial at the water cooler in businesses around the world? Each year the cost of producing and buying time increases. Is it worth the cost of millions to have a 30 second spot during the Superbowl? The answer is obviously “yes” regardless of the commercial. They are all talked about in blogs, surveys, word of mouth and re-airing on web sites like YouTube.com.
While each year there are some commercials that disappoint the viewer, there are those that make us laugh and even some that inspire. The Superbowl commercial up to 2007 that inspired me the most was the Budweiser commercial where the US Army unit disembarked from their tour and were walking through the airport terminal. You heard a single clap and one by one the clapping increased till it was a grand applause. The look in the soldiers eyes said it all. So did the commercial. No talking and it said so much.
This year, Coke brought us the Tribute to Black History. How appropriate was this since for the first time ever, both of the head coaches were black and Coke celebrated that achievement. Unfortunately, there is always the flip-side to an inspirational commercial. That is the thoughtless one. GM’s Robot commercial while being a great graphical achievement turned out to be extremely thoughtless. The robot committed suicide. This was insensitive on two fronts. The first being making light of suicide is just wrong. The second being that one of the head coaches son had committed suicide. I can not help but feel empathy for him when he goes back to watch himself in the Superbowl just to be reminded of the most tragic even in his life and to see it done in poor taste.
But I reiterate, for the disappointing commercials, there are also those that make us laugh and inspire. So for those, and for Budweiser and Coke, I salute you and look forward to more powerful and inspirational commercials in the future.