February 5, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 70  

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Super Bowl advertisements stole the show
Should we pay attention to the commercial breaks?

Mark Polishuk

Opinions Editor

Gazette file photo
LAW AND ORDER OR A PILE OF PROPAGANDA? That depends on your perspective. Jesse Martin and Jerry Orbach star in Law.

This weeks’ Shukvision is all about my amusement with the whole phenomenon of Super Bowl advertising.

We’ve all heard the stats: a 30-second Super Bowl commercial can cost upwards of US$2 million. For many companies, the cost is well worth it when you consider the Super Bowl has an audience of hundreds of millions, and an ad can pay for itself due to the good publicity and buzz about the product. On Madison Avenue, the big winners on Super Bowl Sunday weren’t the New England Patriots, but rather the companies whose ads proved the most popular.

Even though I’m a habitual changer of channels during commercial breaks, I have no intrinsic problem with advertising. I view commercials, like virtually everything else on TV, as merely entertainment. If an ad is funny, then I am entertained and feel justified for turning on the TV (instead of, y’know, studying). I view a poor commercial with the same indifference as a poor program. Since most commercials are bad, I tend to tune them out like an episode of Just Shoot Me — except for the ones with David Cross.

Heck, most TV shows are little more than glorified advertisements for the establishment. What is the thesis of Law & Order besides, “Look, cops are hard-working, committed crimebusters like Briscoe and Green! No racial profiling here, no sir!” What does The West Wing do but reassure America that their government actually has their best interests at heart? What does Buffy do but act as a public service announcement teaching us what to do if one is attacked by vampires?... well, maybe not that last one.

Gazette File Photo
MY REALLY BIG FAT ANNOYING OBNOXIOUS FIANCÉ. The most annoying thing about this fabricated union is the fact that commercials for the show are played over and over and over again.

So to that end, why bother complaining that the real point of the Super Bowl (the game) is being over-commercialized? As a big football fan, the game is the main attraction, but as long as the actual game itself isn’t harmed, then I’m able to tune out everything else. The AOL halftime show? Sure, why not. The omnipresent Pizza Hut logo that was floating behind Jim Nantz’s head during the pregame show? Bring it on. I’ll only complain when it gets so bad Tom Brady uses a time out on the field to advertise Rolex watches.

Of course, it’s somewhat of a moot point up here in Canada, since instead of seeing the much-vaunted new ads from the American companies, we get to see mostly Canadian ads because of Global’s broadcast rights to the Super Bowl. This means tons of ads for Global programming, which this year seemed to largely consist of promos for My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé and the Survivor: All-Stars premiere. Ugh.

The winners of the Shuk Award for best Super Bowl ads go to...

3) Budweiser, for the ad about the donkey wanting to be a Clydesdale.

2) Budweiser again, for their ads featuring the referees making calls on the field and explaining them in truthful detail (“Remember that pass interference call we missed in the first half? This is to make up for that”).

1) The Labatt ad with the two women “sharing lipgloss.” O Canada!


Here’s a recap of some of the other ads that aired during last Sunday’s Super Bowl telecast:
Pepsi: Spike Lee directs a heartwarming tale of a waitress who cheers up a sad, unlucky-in-love male customer by serving him a sandwich and a Pepsi. The two fall in love to the tune of Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend.”

Bud Light: Two men compare their hunting dogs — one dog fetches a can of Bud Light, pleasing his proud owner; while the other dog lunges at the proud owner, aiming for the crotch area. Oh, how funny.

The American Legacy Foundation: An anti-smoking ad that asks, “What if all companies sold products like tobacco?” and shows a freeze-pop containing shards of glass.

Bayer AG and GlaxoSmithKline: With tons of guys watching this game, these companies decided they had a perfect audience to promote Levitra, a new anti-impotence drug. Former football coach Mike Ditka takes a shot at another sport: “Baseball could use Levitra.”

Apple and Pepsi: Joining forces for an iPod spot, the companies hire 16 teens, who were sued by the recording industry for downloading music illegally, to star in an ad. To promote the Pepsi-sponsored contest in which 100 million songs will be given away without cost, one teen claims she will continue to download music for free.



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