I teach advertising. I watch advertising. I even like advertising. When it’s good. And if it’s not all that advertising-like. So of course I look forward to the Super Bowl. And of course I’m inevitably disappointed.
So how can that be? Isn’t the Super Bowl supposed to showcase the best that advertising has to offer? The strategic imperative, whether officially written into the brief or not, asks agencies to create something that critics and viewers alike will love. There’s pressure to trend on Twitter. And kudos should the spot find itself atop the USA Today’s rankings on Monday.
Yet despite all the hoopla — the pre-game coverage of the advertising, a stream of teaser spots, the anticipation amplified by social media – the spots themselves rarely live up to their implied promise. The formulas feel familiar, the punch lines expected, the celebrities overused.
Sure every now and then we get a Darth Vader, an E-Trade baby, a Wassup; something that not only stands out but stays in our collective memory long after the game. But here we are, 30-years after the launch of Macintosh, and 1984 is still considered the best Super Bowl commercial of all time.
Perhaps it was. But it may have been helped by the fact it came at time when a single thirty-second commercial could have that much power and influence. Those days may be gone.
The Super Bowl remains one of our last collective media experiences. Well over 100 million Americans will watch the game live, all knowing they’re part of a communal experience. That’s why a single commercial depletes a marketing budget by well over $4 million. And that doesn’t include production.
I’m rooting that somehow, someone blows us all away with a commercial so original and moving it exceeds even the most inflated expectations. But unless it’s an ad for a universal cure for cancer, I’m not getting my hopes up.