This Sunday was dream for the couch potato as America paraded its annual media blitzkrieg popularly known as the Super Bowl. Centered on the NFL championship game, the event has gradually progressed into being much more than a sporting event. This year was no different with awesome commercials and Janet Jackson’s right breast on display on national network. The pre-game shows, tailgate parties, assortment of football fans bunched around their mega-sized TVs, the anticipation of the much-hyped half-time show and of course, the commercials.
The Super Bowl commercials are the biggest draw in recent times for this event as the biggest brands roll up their sleeves to create one of the finest commercials of the year. The 90 million odd eyeballs (rather 180 million, if you do not count the permanent winkers) focused on the television fully justifies the astronomical $2.3 million tag on the 30-second slot. Although cars, beer and cola companies are permanent features in this commercial race, the assortment of the commercial is considered reflective of the economic trends in the country. For example, in 1999 before the dotcom bubble popped, almost 21 online companies had themselves projected on that particular Sunday. This year, it was just two companies — Monster and Expedia.
No matter what they sell, the competition is always to have the most liked commercial. Anaheuser-Busch, the makers of Budweiser won for the sixth straight year with the awesome depiction of a mongrel beating a well-groomed pedigreed border coolie. Other Anaheuser-Busch commercials were equally funny (incidentally, Bud had 6 commercials in the top ten) and although all of them mostly used bathroom humor, I thoroughly enjoyed them. Unabashedly, I will profess my love for slapstick comedy because nothing is better than a good laugh rather than projecting a penchant for sophisticated humor. Anaheuser-Busch recognizes this, oft-hidden guilty pleasure of its audience and exploits it to the hilt.
Animals also ruled the roost and beat celebrities hands down in the commercials. Be it the loving high aspiring donkey, dreaming to be among the famed Budweiser’s Clydesdales, the scruffy mutt that bites the crotch of the uppity yuppie to steal a Bud light, the amorous chimp who hits on his owner’s hot-looking girlfriend, or bears disguising themselves as men to buy a crate load of Pepsi, animals certainly provide great no-ego hassles material for commercial humor. IBM’s equally impressive commercial with the redoubtable Mohammad Ali projecting a powerful message will unfortunately be less remembered than those funny commercials.
However animals and humor haven’t always produced the best Super Bowl commercials. The most memorable commercial in advertising folklore belongs to Apple. The 1984 Macintosh commercial embodies everything that constitutes a commercial with a heavy impact and everlasting memories-laden impression. The Big Brother image, the automaton people and the athletic lady in red throwing the hammer almost had a Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall effect that hit at the core of rebelling against a hegemonic power.
The Super Bowl Sunday certainly brings out the best in Madison Avenue talent and the $100 million revenue generated by the television corporation in just commercial airtime is enough break even for any project floated earlier. And of course, the New England Patriots defeated Carolina Panthers in a nail-biting finish 32-29. It must be the first football game I watched from start to finish apart from the one at Bobby Dodd stadium at Georgia Tech.