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After further review – Super Bowl ads were meh

Super Bowl advertising is expensive. This year to the tune of about $5.25 million for a 30-second spot.

So why were Super Bowl LIII’s spots so … meh?

I watched some Super Bowl commercials again. My mind didn’t change. My undisputed first-place vote went to the NFL 100th Anniversary spot. In second place – snooze. In third place – roll over and keep snoozin’.

Props, however to companies that featured women in their commercials. After 53 years, sponsors showcased half of the football-viewing public as strong people that do more than serve snacks. Also a high-five to The Washington Post for touting journalism as the cornerstone of democracy and the often-brave journalists that bring stories to us.

Back to the bore — a few industry specialists said bland branding was intentional. Companies didn’t want to be political or touch controversy because we endure enough of that every other day. I support that. Another reason I read was that advertisers don’t think that anyone 15-30-years old care much about commercials. To that, I offer an unscientific survey; students in their late teens at Indiana University said they watch Super Bowl commercials for fun. 

“If it’s something I’ve never heard of and other people talk about a commercial I didn’t see, I might check it out online. If there’s some type reward/giveaway there’s a chance I’ll look at it more online,” Z Warren said. 

Each person asked said that they’d go online to watch a commercial if he/she heard they missed a creative one.

In another more unscientific survey than the first, I asked someone at the gym what he thought about the commercials. He gave me a shrug and we talked about the game. There were no water cooler talks or debate who liked what commercial best.

Ad specialists quoted in Adweek felt that the nostalgia element of some of this year’s Super Bowl commercials purposely played to a 40-and-over crowd. Call me old fashioned – or young fashioned – but I look for creativity and call for action, too. The Super Bowl has conditioned us to watch for the unusual. I didn’t see that, except for a couple of robots. And really, in 2019, who hasn’t worked or dined with a robot. (Insert chuckle track.)

Maybe I missed spots that called for consumers to follow up online which differs from what I saw the past couple of years. Super Bowl requires a big ad-spend for 30 or 60 seconds of air time and in today’s media age, it doesn’t make sense not to carry a message or create a story into other media for days and weeks that follow. 

Ads aren’t my primary interest, but when it comes to Super Bowl Sunday, I pay a little more attention than other game days. Please feel free to chime in if you feel differently. We can’t control how many points are scored in a game (which is why sports is the best reality TV there is), but companies enjoy a lot of freedom when it comes to the messages they share during the biggest game of the year. 


©Gail Sideman, 2019

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