I used to love Super Bowl Sunday not only for the game and the pageantry, but also the commercials. I would look forward to see how advertisers came up with witty and funny ways to convey their message. I mean it goes right along with the great Super Bowl tradition right? You crack open a couple of beers with your friends, cross your legs on the living room coffee table in the little space you made for them between the wings and the nachos, and keep an eye on the dog to make sure he doesn’t snag one. But the past few years, the Super Bowl commercials pissed me off, and here’s why.
The Super Bowl becomes a larger event every year. More people watch it, and with that, more money flows in. Super Bowl TV ratings have more than doubled in the past 20 years. 2015 marked the peak of the games viewership with 114.4 million viewers according to Statistica.com. 114.4 MILLION ( insert Dr. Evil’s face). Of course, these rises in TV ratings directly correlate to what it costs a 30 second commercial during the Super Bowl According to Syracuse.com, it cost a firm $5 million to air a 30 second commercial. That’s an average of $166,666 per second. Sadly the rise in eyeballs being fixed on the TV screen has raised the stakes for advertisers and marketers, making them increasingly desperate to grab your attention.
What’s the greatest example of this? One word, PuppyMonkeyBaby. This is probably the most desperate attempt I’ve seen from advertisers in a very long time. The commercial involves a three part…..creature (?) that is part baby, monkey, and puppy. If this doesn’t come across as desperate, I don’t know what does. I mean, it’s basically shit thrown at a wall, and a prayer that it stinks enough someone will notice it and say “Hey, look at that!”. Why does this piss me off? Because it’s lack of effort, and comes across as the advertiser assuming I’m stupid. The way I see it, it’s like shaking a rattle in front of a baby to make him/her be quiet. Does the baby care why you’re shaking the rattle? No! All it knows is that it likes the sound and wants the rattle. Is that really all it takes to make us buy a product? Just shake a rattle or in this case a puppymonkeybaby and put it to a catchy beat? C’mon! And you know what the worst part is? It worked! It freaking worked! As people and consumers, have we stooped this low? Is this what we have become?
Here’s another example. The Apartments.com commercial with Jeff Goldblum, Lil Wayne, and wait for it…..George Washington! Wow, that guy is still kicking? Good for him. I don’t care. It looks like they did a spin-the-wheel contest to see who they should involve in the commercial. I guess the wheel just barely spun by Teddy Rosevelt and 50 Cent to give us Lil Wayne and George Washington. Great job guys. “Let’s see how many people we can reach by throwing in a figure older viewers will recognize ( Washington) and something for the young folks! They love their Hip/Hop!”. Again, here we go with the rattle? Oh look who it is! Look who they have in the commercial! It’s Gorge Washington and Wayne! These guys must know what we like! Nope. Again, I’m not buying in.
It seems advertisers and marketers don’t know how to read an audience, and assume we don’t know how to read the content they’re giving us, which is partially true. As a Media and Communications major, I’m taught to analyze media and things of the like. Other people are not granted with that knowledge. Other people look at things at face value and take it. This is what advertisers today are counting on. They are relying on an uneducated consumer to take what they given to make choices off of it. That’s just a lack of effort of the advertiser’s side. However, the argument is “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” Which is true, but I think this concept of using the shock factor is going to wear out on consumers and they begin to recognize how they are being advertised to. So I think advertisers need to dig down and find what makes good advertising.
To me, advertising is about manipulation, plain and simple. I know manipulation has a negative connotation, but it that’s what advertising is when you break it down to its core. But there is failure and success in terms of advertising. I know I’m being manipulated when I see an advertisement. It is what it is and I can’t escape it. So how do advertisers get away from these desperate attempts to get our attention? I’ll give you my take next week.