Monday, February 8, 2016

Other Shows at the Super Bowl

The Superbowl sometimes seems like a medium-sized sporting event set in the middle of an ocean of television commercials.  Certainly the Madison Avenue gang takes this game very seriously.  This year, as usual, there were many innovations.

Singing sheep bleated out the Queen song, "Somebody to Love," to encourage us to buy Hondas.

Alec Baldwin, Dan Marino and Missy Elliott promoted a new cloud-based music service for Amazon.

Arnold Schwarzenegger led an action scene for a new video game.  The Coca Cola Company recruited Marvel Comics stars The Incredible Hulk and Ant-Man to sell little cans of soda.

There was even a commercial for a prescription drug that treats Opioid-Induced Constipation, which may say more than we want to know about the current level of painkiller use these days.

Here are a couple Super Bowl ad campaigns that struck me funny, and a note on the halftime show.


The world's second biggest brewer always purchases lots of air time on the Super Bowl broadcast.  As usual, its Budweiser team of Clydesdale horse put in an appearance, among others.

Early in the game,  Anheuser-Busch aired a Bud Light Party ad starring Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen -- "I've seen the light, and there's a Bud in front of it!"

Then came a non-celeb Michelob Ultra commercial suggesting that MU is the preferred nectar of sweaty, panting athletes everywhere.

Toward the end of the game, also from Budweiser, came a somber Helen Mirror sitting with alone with a burger basket and a beer  -- like that happens a lot -- telling people not to drive drunk.  "Don't be a pillock," she concluded.  ("Pillock" is English for stupid,  by the way, somewhat akin to recent years' version of "wanker.")

Taken together, the three were a little nutty:  Drink this, drink that and don't drink too much.  Not inappropriate, of course; brewers don't want drunk drivers to give their products a bad name, and drunk driving is a serious problem.

But you have to wonder whether beer-drinking Super Bowl fans will take to heart a moderation message from a woman who looks one of their mothers  They likely have heard this advice from their own mothers already.


Stephen Tyler, now 65 years old and with a net worth of more than $130 million, promoted Skittles candies in a commercial that featured a singing Skittles portrait of himself, complete with a caricature of his pouty lips mouthing the Aerosmith anthem, "Dream On."

Skittles, I thought.  Really?  Isn't that a children's candy?

Then I did a little research.  Turns out Marshawn Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks is a big Skittles eater, has been since childhood.  Turns out kids aren't the target Skittles demo after all.
An outfit called InfoScout offers this market analysis:

        Skittles & Starburst is preferred by very high-income consumers and African Americans
        who tend to be upper middle age. Shopping trips containing Skittles & Starburst products
        are more likely to be a part of larger pantry stocking trips and contain other brands like
        Frito-Lay, Hershey's, and Kit Kat.

So Skittles are right in Tyler's demographic.  I learn something new every day.

Halftime Show

The Super Bowl organizers really should consider eliminating the halftime show.  There are few if any musical stars prominent enough to appear, and, worse, the small scale of individual performers is always overwhelmed by the size of the venue, which this year seated 75,000 people.

This year's show included two acts for double the fun.  One was Chris Martin and his band, Coldplay. Martin, in a knit shirt and long pants, sang upbeat songs that could not be heard and jumped around the stage a lot.

The other was Beyonce, the self-described feminist in tasteful black leather with what looked like a couple of cross-body bandoliers, fishnet stockings, black boots and a black garter. Bey -- who does Whatever She Wants -- paid homage to the Black Panthers,  the Black Lives Matter movement and Malcom X, an interesting and complex man whose story deserves more careful attention.

The contrast made Coldplay's routine look like something aimed at the preschool set.  Maybe that was the point.  I don't know.

I think people would be just as happy to sit through more commercials or, if that cannot be done, maybe the halftime show should be split into two segments, one for the Democrats and one for the Republicans with both parties coming together at the end to perform a Kumbaya number.  The presidential debates seem to be drawing good audiences, and we certainly could use a little less political animus.

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