Long: Super Bowl ads run wild


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Retro TV Commercial.

Craig Long

Did you watch the Super Bowl? It was a hard-fought game between two teams from the National Football League. It was an entertaining game to say the least. The final score — and lead change — occurred with less than a minute left in the game.

So when I went into work the next morning, I expected there to be at least minimal conversation about the game. Boy, was I wrong. All I heard was: “Oh, did you see this commercial?” “Yeah, I loved the one with the dog!” “How about the one with Clint Eastwood?”

That says a lot about our society. The Super Bowl is huge, but it isn’t universally popular. I had five people over to watch the game, and three of them had no idea how the game is played, nor do they have a favorite team. They probably just came for the food. But they paid more attention to the commercials than anything else. The room got quiet when the ads were on.

The same goes for my coworkers. Many of them don’t watch football, yet they could recount every commercial that played. They watched the game only to see the commercials. I’m guilty of the same, I was busy cooking during the first half but went in to watch what was on when I heard a break in the game.

When did advertising become something to watch itself? These companies pay vast amounts of money to advertising agencies, just so they can manipulate us. They use cute dogs, sexy women, sleek cars, babies and other ploys to control your feelings about a company. Do we really desire to be manipulated?

And why is it okay for these companies to pay ungodly amounts of money to do this? These commercials cost an average of $3.5 million for a 30 second slot. The General Motors Co. ran at least two time slots, they’re barely three years removed from requiring a government bailout. The Chrysler family ran a 2 minute slot; they too required a bailout not two years ago.

I’m not saying companies shouldn’t advertise. I know that advertising drives sales. However, when the economy is down, there has to be more effective ways. Even though GM and Chrysler have made admirable recoveries, it isn’t as though they are on solid ground yet. Most companies aren’t, in this economy.

We have a society of excess, and this is the perfect example of it. One 30 second slot could pay for 70 $50k jobs for a year. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but when the economy is recovering, every job is important. And advertising brings in cash, of course, but people can’t purchase goods if they are unemployed.

I’m no advertising major to be sure, but it seems to me that many of these advertisements fell on deaf ears. I’d love a new car, as would many Americans, but it just isn’t feasible right now. Every Chrysler, GM, Volkswagon or any other car commercial was likely for not. And it isn’t as though many people are going to choose a car simply because they liked one commercial over another. Most will research the different brands and vehicles, to choose the one they think is best.

Again, I’m not saying that companies shouldn’t advertise at all. But it is a pretty sad situation when people are watching a TV program that they wouldn’t normally, simply so they can watch the minor annoyances that we normally curse for interrupting our favorite shows. It makes it seem that our consumerism is completely uncontrollable. I sincerely hope that’s not the case.