How to Sound Even Smarter About the Super Bowl
As an ad person, Super Bowl Sunday is the one day all year when anybody not in the business cares that you do what you do. As such, you may be called upon to deliver some Super Bowl ad-related knowledge. What follows is the second annual guide to the ins-and-outs of the big game. Heed its wisdom and you will feel the game the way Ray Lewis feels the National Anthem.
The Situation: Bad start -- your host doesn't know how to spell Super Bowl, as demonstrated in the subject line, "Save the Date, Superbowl 47 Party." Not only is a perfectly good and rare opportunity for Roman numeral usage being squandered, there's also a misspelling -- a common, common mistake. Super Bowl, my friend, is two words. We live in a world where conventional and healthy spacing between words is under attack. Usually, it's marketers who are doing the offending and jamming things together. It's disturbing when ordinary joes make matters worse in the name of something beautiful, like football.
How to Deal: This is difficult. This person has invited you into their home to eat gnarly and spicy little bird wings, even if it's to watch a game that's free to anyone with a TV. And you need to treat them with equal respect. Tact and discretion are in order. Might we suggest sending an anonymous "Virtual Mint" through the Therabreath page? Simply change "you have bad breath" to "you misspelled 'Super Bowl' -- it's two words" and you're good to go.
The Situation: The game and the ads start flying. Being an ad person you feel like you need to offer some sort of uber-analysis or announce the theme.
How to Deal: Two words: Baby. Animals. Kia's ad for the Sorento imagines a "Babylandia" where there are all kinds of infant life forms, including giraffes, lambs, and perhaps least interestingly, humans. All these creatures -- a panda even! -- are cute and dressed as cute astronauts and it's wildly cute and actually manages to tie back to the car in a cute way. Did we mention it's cute?
Then there's Budweiser rolling out, wow, a baby Clydesdale. (Depending on the crowd, you could say something like "It's the BuzzFeedification of the Super Bowl!" and refer the ignorant to BuzzFeed's animal page.) In any event, fans will name the foal during the game. In fact, through the magic of social media, they are already casting their votes. Early suggestions on Twitter include: ThunderFoam, Glue Bucket, ClydeDrexler, Kegger, Eagle, Gusto, Spuds McHorsey, Pony Keg and, of course, Miller. There are tons of votes for Musial, after the late St. Louis baseball great, and even more for the rather unimaginative Buddy. For my part I'm with the guy who suggested Axel FOALey.
The Situation: Baby animals are nice, but you want something more counterintuitive.
How to Deal: Tell 'em that after years of empty T&A spots, GoDaddy has actually come up with something funny (in the first ad it released before the game). They even managed the impossible and worked a guy wearing a turban into the ad without being incredibly offensive.
The Situation: Someone is making the argument that marketers are getting lazy what with their consumer-generated ads and choose-your-own-adventures and what not.
How to Deal: This is more than a passing marketing fancy. Audi did three versions of the same ad and let the people pick the winner on YouTube. Doritos is running its "Crash the Super Bowl" contest for the seventh year. Pepsi is using photos solicited from consumers and Coke is letting viewers to choose the end of its ad, which will run directly following the end of the game. So, yes, it's true that there are an awful lot of marketers leaning heavily on their consumers for creative help, but these programs, especially the vote-for-the-ending ones, have become quite involved and are effective ways to build in pre-game engagement. We can be ok with this.
The Situation: You keep hearing the sound "HAR-baw" and you don't know what that means. Don't worry. Harbaugh, as it's spelled, is the last name of the coach of the San Francisco 49ers. It's also the last name of the coach of the Baltimore Ravens. They're brothers! And combatants! Yes, it's the first time that's happened, but that knowledge won't get you anywhere at this late date. You need a deep cut.
How to Deal: Drop this fact: Jim Harbaugh, long ago a middling quarterback, once was in a "Saved By the Bell" episode as Screech's cousin.
The Situation: Right after the Hyundai ad with the band, the guy sitting in the corner wearing the #OccupyHope t-shirt and a look of calculated detachment sidles up to you and confides, "Man, I can't believe Wayne sold out like this?!"
How to Deal: The Wayne in question is Wayne Coyne, frontman of Oklahoma's best known indie rock act The Flaming Lips. Though brimming with artistic integrity, these Lips have been known to part for the lusty, well-scraped tongues of marketers on a few previous occasions. And that's ok. "Do You Realize?" is no less haunting for being featured in a Mitsubishi Galant ad. Their music has paired nicely with spots for Kraft salad dressings, HP, Range Rover, and Dell. In between commercial gigs, the band is known for putting out epic avant-garde albums chock full of less-marketable songs like "Helping the Retarded to Find God." (Sounds like Joe Flacco would like it.) P.S.: That Hyundai/Flaming Lips commercial is running before kickoff, so it's not a "Super Bowl ad" by traditional standards.
The Situation: You're not sure how to feel about Beyonce at the halftime show after the whole Inauguration lip-synching flap.
How to Deal: Honestly, don't be that guy/gal. Be grateful that for once the halftime show is being turned over to a star at her apex rather than some washed-up old act, which is to say basically every other recent halftime performer. It's a pretty safe bet that Beyonce will dazzle. She's fresh, she's now, she oozes power, and she won't have you misting up at the memory of drinking melon balls while listening to "American Girl" or singing along to "Born to Run" while your Camaro purred beneath your loins back in 1979 or whatever. You can even call her Bey.
The Situation: It's the fourth quarter, San Francisco is destroying the Ravens, you've had one too many Sierra Nevadas, and all this overwrought pageantry has injected you with the need to "keep it real."
How to Deal: Drop this: While it's not clear exactly how much the networks make off the Super Bowl, it's pretty certain that CBS' haul, at a shade under $4 million per 30 seconds of advertising, will be bigger than the nominal GDPs of Nauru ($72 million), Montserrat ($62 million), and Tuvalu ($37 million).
The Situation: Someone asks, "For hours now, I've been elbow-deep in Pepsi and Budweiser ads. Do they work? What's the point of all this?"
How to Deal: Start a diversionary fire and make for the door, or at least for the guy with the #OccupyHope t-shirt.