Super bore commercials

The only thing more predictable than the pre-game hype over the Super Bowl is the post-game hype about which commercials worked and which didn’t. The winners of this year’s Nobel Prize won’t get a millionth of the ink that commercial will. When the Nobel Prize people start advertising on the Super Bowl, it will be worth talking about. Until then, they’re about as newsworthy as Mr. Blackwell’s yearly ten worst-dressed list.

The commercials rated most watchable by some polls were the Budweiser commercials. At $2.6 million a pop, Bud ran five of them. Now, here’s my question. What beverage do you think most people watching the game at home were drinking? Tea? Coffee? Bottled water? White-wine spritzers? Or beer?

So Budweiser just spent $13 million (plus whatever it cost to make the ads) to tell people who were probably already drinking their product to buy their product. Smart. Well, it must have sounded smart after a few six packs. Otherwise, it’s pretty stupid. There’s only so much beer you can drink on any one day. There are 13 million better ways to spend their advertising money.

FedEx spent their $2.6 million explaining that FedEx Ground service sounded slow but really isn’t. Basically they were saying they had a product with a lousy name, as if FedEx had nothing to do with coming up with such a stupid name. So why not name it something that doesn’t sound slow? Like Xtreme Ground or Ground Speed or Terrefirma Blitzkrieg. Whoever came up with the name FedEx Ground owes the company two and a half million dollars. Let me guess: was it your company president?

Another highly rated ad was for Doritos. More advertising to the choir.

“What do you say, dear, that instead of pate and caviar, we try corn chips at the Super Bowl next year? I know it’s a radical idea, but I say tradition be damned, let’s have chips! And maybe guacamole.”

Did you notice there were no guacamole ads on the Super Bowl? Because someone at guac central was smart enough to figure out if there was one day in the entire year you don’t need to tell people about guacamole, it’s Super Bowl Sunday. The pizza delivery places have figured that out, too. But not Coke and Pepsi.

It seems to me that if you advertise to people who are not already buying your products, you would get a bigger bang for your buck. I know, I know, you’re thinking that people in advertising are smart, they know what they’re doing, they do all kinds of research, they really know what they are talking about. Nonsense. Advertising agencies are all run by 24-year-old egomaniacs. Or middle-aged egomaniacs pretending they are 24. Any ad on the Super Bowl will get results – how big of a genius do you have to be to figure that out? But is it the smartest way to spend $2.6 million in 30 seconds? Maybe giving away 26 $100,000 literary prizes would get just as much publicity. Just one $100,000 prize would make it one of the most prestigious awards, overnight. Maybe donating $2.6 million to a college scholarship fund might get some good publicity. From a crowd that may not already be consuming two six packs of your product a day.

Molson and Sam Adams didn’t advertise on the Super Bowl this year. Yet their stocks are doing better than Bud’s this year. What do they know that Budweiser doesn’t?

To me the most interesting commercial on the Super Bowl was for Revlon’s Not Fade Away hair color, starring Sheryl Crow. Post-game focus groups made up of beer-drinking, Doritos-eating, FedEx Ground-using men rated the ad near the bottom, but I wonder how the 35 million women who watched the Super Bowl rated it? Maybe they appreciated the fact that Revlon was willing to spend $2.6 million dollars to reach out and talk to them outside of “women’s shows” and “women’s magazines.”

Jim Mullen is the author of “It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life” and “Baby’s First Tattoo.” You can reach him at

Copyright 2007, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.

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