Super Bowl Commercials Going the Way of the Dodo

Good Ad Ideas Increasingly Rare in Game

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Bart Cleveland
Bart Cleveland
There was much debate on whether Pepsi made the right choice not to participate in the Super Bowl commercial spectacle. Ironically, most of those who bought commercials didn't participate either. No one wants to do a great commercial for the Super Bowl anymore. It looks like we're just out of ideas. But if the future Super Bowl commercials are like what we had this year, the hype is over.

Could this be an indication where our industry is headed creatively? Sadly, it is. I think we've gotten lazy. We're scared. We don't care as much as we did. The demands on our industry are tougher than ever, but what's wrong with us? Are we just going to stop trying? I saw more than one commercial last night devised from a bargain bin book titled "The Oldest Jokes of Mankind." Henny Youngman is spinning somewhere. And could we please stop recycling old Super Bowl commercials? Where's our pride?

The fragmentation of communication channels is challenging advertising agencies to diversify or die. Our first act of survival seems to be throwing a passion for what we do out of the lifeboat. I worry about our agency capabilities as much as the next agency owner, but creative chutzpah should not be lost while we're evolving.

Perhaps the evolution of advertising is the cause of our general malaise. I think it certainly has taken our eye off the ball. As we know from watching the game, when you do that, you don't make the catch or the touchdown. So I say we need to remember why most of us got in this business. Let's not compromise when no one asked us to.

Honestly, I think we aren't doing our best work because we've told ourselves that it's good. Strike that. We've told ourselves, it's great. None of us want to believe we just do "good" work.

I point the finger at myself here. I look back at the work of the past couple of years and wonder if I've decided things are just too tough to worry about breaking a few molds. It's not any fun laying people off. It's not any fun cutting salaries. But none of that has anything to do with my will to push the work to a higher place. At least, it shouldn't have anything to do with it.

Watching the commercials on the Super Bowl inspired me to try harder. Unfortunately, it wasn't for the reason it should have been.

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