Joe Lavin

February 6, 2007

Watching the Commercials for the Game

I always find it amusing that most people spend 364 days a year avoiding commercials, but then on what many have deemed our national holiday – Super Bowl Sunday – nobody can talk about anything else. For most of the year, you can barely read about television without hearing about how more and more people are using their Tivo to avoid commercials, or how people are downloading TV shows to avoid commercials, or how people are plain just not watching to avoid commercials. But the day after the Super Bowl, the question heard most is not "What did you think of the game?" but "What was your favorite commercial?"

For example, all over the web yesterday, there were countless of blogs – you know, edgy media! – posting links to television commercials. There were also many polls where we all got to vote on our favorite Super Bowl commercials. In many cases, you could watch Super Bowl commercials on web sites with banner ads from other companies. Yes, we've reached the point where commercials for one company are now sponsored by a second company.

Apparently, I am the last person on earth who doesn't really care about Super Bowl commercials. I was once at a Super Bowl Party where I reflexively attempted to change the channel during a commercial break. (I'm a guy. That’s just what I do.) Word of advice: This does not tend to go over well. Interestingly, however, I later learned that it is perfectly acceptable to change the channel while the actual football game is taking place. After all, the worst that can happen then is that you'll miss a touchdown.

Unfortunately, it seems that Super Bowl commercials seem to disappoint us more and more each year, and I think it's because our expectations are too high. Back when there was only an occasionally "super" commercial, it was easy for one to stand out. Now that every commercial is an event, it's a little tough to get excited about them all. One can only take so much wacky humor at a time.

From what I can see, there are generally three types of Super Bowl commercials:

1. Commercials in which cute, animatronic animals do crazy things.

2. Commercials in which cute, occasionally animatronic, old stars do crazy things. This year, for example, Robert Goulet was crawling on a ceiling for a nut company. Next year, I'm expecting to see Abe Vigoda and Andy Rooney jumping off a cliff together for Mountain Dew. There's even a 50-50 chance they'll accidentally kiss before jumping.

3. Commercials in which somebody gets hit in the head. These tend to be for Bud Light. The multiple concussions apparently explain why all the people in these commercials are so excited to actually drink Bud Light.

Occasionally, there will be a commercial in which an old star is dressed up as an animal doing something wacky while being hit in the head. These are the commercials that win awards. Think William Shatner dressed up as a gopher water-skiing while being hit in the head by a case of Bud Light, and you've got yourself the quintessential Super Bowl commercial.

Actually, there also seems to be a new trend of late: self-referential commercials. Last year, there were several Super Bowl commercials in which companies talked about how they had spent millions of dollars to make a Super Bowl commercial. The theme of these commercials was generally: "Hey, look, we just spent two million dollars on a television commercial and forgot to mention our company."

This year, we had various Super Bowl commercial contests, in which regular people competed to make a commercial that would air during the game for a big conglomerate. Apparently, the idea was to get a new and different type of commercial, although frankly these commercials looked just like all the others. On the plus side, the conglomerates presumably saved the money they would have normally spent on a director for their commercial.

Of course, the problem is that all these commercials are so clever and wacky that one tends to forget the actual company for which they are advertising. Somehow, I can remember that CBS seemed to have a camera on a string above the playing field that was sponsored by Budweiser, but I still can't remember 99% of the companies that advertise during the Super Bowl.

Well, except for I don't know why, but for some reason their commercials just seem to resonate with me.

©2007 Joe Lavin

Joe Lavin's
Humor Column

This Week's Column

But I Digress...
Click here to buy my book!