Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Gearing up for the...what?

Honestly, I could give two shits about the Superbowl.
And I like football. And I like advertising.

But as much as the "biggest game in sports" tends to be a serious let-down, the "biggest day in advertising" has never failed to let me down either. I think what both the football and the ads have managed to do is drive up their own hype to the point that no one seems to notice: we're all so high on MSG and MGD by kickoff, the two worst teams in sports could be playing, with a sprinkling of the worst commercials of all time, and we'd sit around placing bets on the point spread and the most gratuitous showing of cleavage. (I seriously doubt the Half Time show will win that one this year - Prince may be a lot of things, but "Stacked" doesn't come to mind.)

For those of us who create advertising for a living - while the TV spot may not be dead - the superbowl spot isn't the end-all of the genre the way it was even two years ago.

Nor is the microsite the panacea of the over-media'd masses. The problem seems to be that "smart advertising" and "huge budgets" are becoming mutually exclusive terms. Advertisers who make the decision to scrape up the dollars to run a spot on the superbowl leave very little for concept development. Smart advertisers are beginning to do the math - and see red numbers at the bottom of all that long division. And as the water boils with spots looking to get noticed - all of them fail to live up to the hype - and, more importantly, the expectations of those outlaying the bags of cash.

And if the hype of the game and the hype ads has become formulaic - now the ads themselves are formulaic too? Twas a time when the Superbowl was a staging ground for completely new stuff. eBay, eTrade, Apple, Budweiser - all have walked away with the honor of doing great work that broke through in the most cluttered of all broadcasting. But as Nationwide has proven with their pre-release of the K-Fed spot, the almighty Superbowl ad is getting cranked through the funny flter. It was pretty funny when MC Hammer did it. It was way less funny when Fabio did it. I've gone from faintly amused to downright eye-rolling on the latest riches-to-rags plot twist. Not only is K-Fed an ass, he's not even a funny ass.

I know, I know - who am I, Bob Garfield?

And now we get to endure a flurry of "make your own superbowl commercial" bullshit, too. Great. Taking YouTube to the big tube. I'm sure it'll get plenty of talk and it'll keep Adweek blabbering for weeks about how Joe-Digicam will eventually replace Joe Art Director. Great. Maybe I can take over Joe-Digicam's warm spot on the couch amid the Dorito crumbs and beer farts. I've been meaning to spend some time there for a few months, anyway.

Will I watch the game? Sure. Will I give a shit about either team that's playing? Maybe. Will any of the advertising appeal to me? Probably some. But will the sum total of the experience live up to 1/8 of the hype? I wouldn't bet on it.

1 comment:

Make the logo bigger said...

The pre-release trend is killing me.