A NEW SUPER BOWL GAME PLAN

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The Super Bowl of football has led to a new phenomenon: The Super Bowl of Advertising. Since the seminal "1984" commercial from Apple Computer, that compelling January Sunday TV event has gained so much momentum it now seems secure as the place to watch the very best in advertising. And there's the rub.

What the public is seeing aren't the best! And with the whole world watching, they should be. Football's Super Bowl teams are the best, so shouldn't the advertising industry make sure the "players" that appear on screen in advertising's Super Bowl are the best of all?

Can the ad business go on living with this Monday-morning quarterbacking of consumer polls, with people saying-in the national media, mind you-things like the ads are "the same thing over and over again; I'm getting tired of it" or "It's a big tradition but I'm disappointed [by the ads] this year." After all the Bud Bowl commercials had aired, one researcher said, just 5% of respondents recalled the product. Come on! If the ads suck, advertising suffers.

Since the NFL teams can't buy their way into the Super Bowl, why should having $900,000 be the sole criterion for ads getting on The Game? And be considered part of the Super Bowl of Advertising, yet? Rule changes seem in order.

Let's use the NFL example: We've got to have some kind of playoffs. The commercials will just have to be prepared well enough in advance to get through a few weeks of important testing. Maybe we can call them bye weeks, meaning that if the spots don't rate better with selected consumers and, say, AdReview columnist Bob Garfield, then they're gone-bye.

Since it seems to be a new tradition, ad recall tests should be conducted in Buffalo. Buffalo, in January; yeah, that's it. Maybe we'll send Garfield up there, so these playoffs don't drag out. Then the spots must pass the process of a Media Day, so USA Today and "Entertainment Tonight" and others can prepare their reactions.

Finally, the industry should bring in its own John Madden-type heavyweight to sit in a trailer outside the stadium, sift through opinions and test results and allow the commercial feeds to go through. Or, more importantly, X and O some out. Just like Madden: Whop! Outta there! Zap!

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