Since the advent of Pop Culture Has AIDS, we’ve examined the current psychological makeup of America through USA Today’s Super Bowl Ad-Meter, and lamented that Super Bowl commercials have essentially devolved into an exclusive diet of babies and animals.
Did the 2012 Super Bowl commercials tell us anything new about the state of advertising and our culture? Or did they just reaffirm what we already know?
Let me just say right off the bat that this year’s commercials were, if not the worst ever, at least near the bottom of the garbage can. No matter what the Ad-Meter participants chose as the best ads, they would have been wrong, because there were no best ads. Just a neverending cacophony of corporate shilling and appeals to the lowest common denominator. As per usual. But what did THE PEOPLE like this year? What petty amusements most distracted them from the misery of their daily lives?
1) WE STILL LOVE DOGGIES!
Four of the top six best-liked ads featured dogs. And a fifth featured a baby. With the possible exception of the Volkswagen Star Wars-themed ad with the fat dog, none of these commercials were creative and engaging in any way. They just threw some fucking dogs on our TV screens and we started applauding like seals. This Ad Age article is an interesting read about how the Ad-Meter itself is responsible for the downturn in quality of Super Bowl commercials. Because of the Ad-Meter and its importance in the industry, campaigns are now all built to provoke an immediate reaction. All subtlety (not that subtlety was ever a hallmark of television advertising) is lost.
2) We Hold Nothing Sacred
Fucking American icon Clint Eastwood is hawking Chryslers like a common pitchman (but he’s doing it so grittily!). Eastwood put another nail in the coffin of his credibility last night. Matthew Broderick sells out his most beloved character for Honda CR-Vs, a car only the most broken-down, middle-aged version of Ferris Bueller would conceivably drive. “Gonna Fly Now,” the theme from Rocky, takes its place alongside the Cheers theme as beloved songs being massacred to move product. One of Kanye West’s best songs is now serving a new master: something called Bud Light Platinum. And even the ultimate American institution — John Stamos’s charm — is being used as a marketing tool. It’s all over now, baby blue.
3) Only the Big Boys Get to Play Now
Gone are the days when an upstart dot-com could scrape up some debt money for a Super Bowl ad to introduce itself to America. In a recession, only the behemoths have the $3.5 million handy to buy a Super Bowl advertising package. Which means a glut of commercials for cars, beer, movies, Doritos and more cars. The product lines being sold during the game are less diverse than ever before. And since the commercials themselves are all so similar (“look at this cute baby! here’s a song you love! America!”), everything blends together into a miasma of despair.
4) We Still Hate the GoDaddy.Com Ads and Have No Interest in Bud Light Platinum
Maybe everything’s not lost.