How could we jazz up next month's Super Bowl? For starters, advertisers, whose three-million-bucks-a-minute spots make the game happen, could lobby the NFL and the network carrying the Super Bowl to reverse the game/commercial ratio. I'm thinking an hour of football, two hours of spots. Let only the best football plays interrupt the spots, rename the event the Commercial Bowl, and the sleepy Super Bowl is resurrected as a rousing One Show from the good ol' days.
OK, you say, what about the halftime extravaganza? Fuhgeddaboutit. I mean, Whitney Houston is great and all, but how could you compare her act with home videos of previous Super Bowl MVPs on the Disney World vacations they promised us they'd take?
Spots, Not Sports
I admit this might be much for a network to swallow. Being a reasonable man, I have a fallback position. Instead of a halftime recap by the likes of Terry Bradshaw and Greg Gumbel, I propose a panel with an advertising editor, a great creative director and two shoppers from a local mall. Their job: judge the first-half spots. If the network wants to be democratic, a 900 number could bring the voting to the viewing fans. Vegas could also get into the act, handicapping each spot's chances -- think commercials meet Kentucky Derby.
It'd be a hoot to see spots treated like football plays. The videotape replays alone would be golden. If a great commercial airs, let's see the most outstanding scenes again. (Give clients this kind of free airtime and they'll demand terrific work. Imagine.)
Using slow-motion replays, we could actually see what the hell's going on in some of the really cool rapid-fire spots. Those now-you-see-'em, now-you-don't commercials are so fast that by the time our brains get around to processing their fleeting images, they're long gone. My brain's still catching up to a spot I saw last night.
While we're at it, why not follow a spot's action from different camera angles? Directors film these angles up the wazoo -- let's rescue such shots from the cutting room floor.
Another cool thing that could happen by televising spots the way we do football is to have Joe Pytka sitting in the broadcast booth with John Madden. Can't you just see Pytka dashing off X's and O's on chalkboards, diagramming Shaq in a Pepsi spot?
Don't get me wrong -- my idea isn't to denigrate football. I know that players and coaches work hard to get to the big game -- to say nothing of the medical staff and their Hypocritical Oath about getting players who should be resting their injured bodies shot up on who-knows-what to kill each other on the gridiron. So when a fullback breaks a big gain, interrupt the commercial. Ditto for a wide receiver making a leaping catch, or any fumbles or interceptions. The network should treat these plays like top-breaking stories.
Football purists, of course, will argue that the Super Bowl is more than just a series of plays for four quarters. I agree. It's also hype ad nauseam for 14 days. Do you really care about the halfback's dad, whom he's never seen? What does a linebacker's new Harley mean to you?
The Commercial Bowl would need much hipper gossip. Like which team's cool spot will land them jobs at Wieden or Fallon. Or the skinny on the romance between the creatives on the animated beer spot.
Now all we need is a dramatic final. So we'll have the two best spots duke it out in a last-ditch two-minute drill. Creative directors scrambling with time outs, showing their spots in slow-motion replays, huddling with their creative and account teams, trotting out focus group numbers, even sales results in test markets.
Gentlemen, start your pitches.
Cary Bayer is president of Bayer Communications, a PR firm specializing in