Collapse of the commercials

We’re facing a reality where all Super Bowl advertisements are turning mundane and repetitive.

This year we had the privilege of listening to two insufferable fanbases, the Chiefs and Eagles, for two weeks before cleats touched the field. Fans drank themselves to sleep before Chris Stapleton even sang the National Anthem, and those who had no alcohol enjoyed great performances from both teams. Of course, there is more than just football for those uninterested in the football part. Delusional fan cams, flashy halftime shows, and most importantly, the commercials, all provide their own version of entertainment.

Commercials serve as a placeholder for entertainment. Companies have put tremendous effort into their Super Bowl ads for decades, as they are seen by millions of potential buyers. Each commercial used to feel unique or original. There would be celebrity cameos, surprise announcements, and catchy product reveals. They were something for fans and non-fans to enjoy, but the last few years of commercials have fallen short of expectations.

It doesn’t help that thirty seconds of advertising costs roughly $7,000,000 now. Despite the high pricing, companies seemingly put no effort into some of these ads, and it becomes a waste of potential revenue. This year, almost all commercials were uninspired and devoid of any emotion. It just isn’t the same with fans sitting on their phone during each break now. Fortunately, not every company lacks a brain, and some were able to craft great commercials for the big game.

Take PopCorners for example, bringing back Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, and Raymond Cruz to reprise their famous roles from the show Breaking Bad. Lots of people have watched Breaking Bad, so seeing familiar faces allows an audience to relive memories of a show they may have once enjoyed.

The commercial itself replicated a scene and promotional photos from the show’s airing. It depicted Cranston and Paul as the master cook and dealer behind their signature product, PopCorners chips. The key is familiarity, and that all stems from the celebrity cameos mentioned before. Cranston also made a statement mentioning that this would be his last appearance as his iconic character Walter White, so it allowed everyone to give one last wave goodbye to Cranston’s beloved character. In that thirty-second sliver, they grabbed the audience’s attention, maintained that attention, and were thoroughly able to advertise their product.

Image comes from the Albuquerque Journal, local news outlet.

Speaking of attention, TubiTV had everyone on their heels as they “changed” the channel away from the game as soon as it cut back from a commercial break. Of course, they couldn’t actually manipulate the television, but seeing sports commentators Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen fade away as an intruder switched to the action movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Eagles and Chiefs fans across the country had simultaneous heart attacks. Even viewers that cared about neither team were distressed about missing the next big play. This commercial was less than twenty seconds, proving again that the ads don’t need to have long-winded scripts to sell off a product.

Another successful tactic utilized by commercials of the past was themed short stories, with most themes being comedic. Not many companies toss enough money to get more than thirty seconds now, but Doritos decided they would go all in to introduce their new BBQ flavor. The commercial follows rapper Jack Harlow as he builds an empire of trends and triangles, as in the instrument. Despite his efforts, he loses the coveted “Best Triangle Player” award to Elton John, who goes on to play a triangle twice his size.

To a sane person, those two sentences appear as though they came from someone living in a fever dream, but that is what made the commercial perfect: it didn’t make sense. Companies have to understand that commercials can (and should) get weird during the Super Bowl. Weird is what makes some commercials iconic. The Doritos commercial follows a comical short story that has a twist ending, accompanied by a multitude of celebrities and influencer cameos. The commercial flowed well, and it may not be iconic, but it was easily one of the best of the night.

A final commercial worth mentioning is the message from the company Workday. Featuring a variety of old-school rock stars including Paul Stanley from KISS, Ozzy Osbourne, Joan Jett, and Billy Idol, these rockers’ goal was to stop employees in the workplace from complimenting each other as “rockstars”. It was intense and comedic, and it also happened to be one of the longer commercials of the night. Despite the long runtime, it was well received, and people wouldn’t mind watching more of the jovial threats coming from the old-school rockers.

We can appreciate the great game that night, but more importantly the sparse amount of well-done commercials. There is a concerning vision for the future of Super Bowl commercials, as it is a fan-favorite part of the game that has been declining in quality. It is essential for companies to regain the high-quality commercials we had in the past, or the Super Bowl will lose merit as a top event of the year to many fans.


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