On Feb. 3, the Super Bowl commercials made their highly anticipated television debut on Fox. Two out of every five people who tuned into the game did so solely for the commercials, according to a statement by InsightExpress in 2003. Since each 30-second commercial bears an estimated price tag of $2.7 million, the eagerness is warranted.
This year�s ads covered all the bases, with animated animals and silly celebrities to both weird and serious segments.
A highlight of the night was a SoBe Life Water commercial featuring a group of rainbow-colored lizards dancing with Naomi Campbell to the beats of Michael Jackson�s �Thriller,� with the tagline �Thrillicious.�
A Bridgestone commercial with forest animals screaming bloody murder at an approaching car was alarming and puzzling, more than anything else. Later in the game, Sales Genie tried cartoons for their two spots. These commercials weren�t funny, entertaining or well-done, and they left much to be desired.
Before the commercials aired on television, diehard fans watched many ads online at YouTube, America Online and MySpace; however, YouTube quickly filled with random homemade videos with titles similar to �2008 Super Bowl Commercial,� so a better bet for seeing missed commercials can be found on the AOL or MSN.com websites. These sites also have huge view ratings. AOL reported last year�s Bowl commercials had more than 40 million viewers, an audience advertisers count on.
Both AOL and USA Today rated a Budweiser commercial that parodied �Rocky� as the most highly rated. In it, a Dalmatian helped a Clydesdale train to become one of the horses chosen to pull the Budweiser cart, managing to create a short, heartwarming scene.
On another top 10 list of the commercials, MSN.com rated Diet Pepsi Max�s ad with people falling asleep and then dancing to the music of Haddaway�s �What is Love� as the No. 1 ad of the evening.
Parodies and celebrity cameos were a recurring theme, including comedic recreations of �Rocky� (in the Budweiser ad) and �The Godfather� (Audi) and Napoleon (Garmin). Derek Jeter appeared in a lackluster Gatorade commercial, and Justin Timberlake even found himself magnetized and flying through a suburban city in a Pepsi Stuff ad. Additionally, college basketball�s Dwain Williams performed in a comical ad for T-Mobile, Carmen Electra spoke for Ice Breakers and Will Ferrell was up to his usual gimmicks in an ad for Budweiser.
Advertisers are willing to dish out $90,000 per second for Super Bowl airtime because of the game�s record-breaking number of viewers of all demographics. A colossal 97.5 million viewers tuned in Sunday, making it the prime time for advertisers to reach the second largest television audience ever (the season finale of M*A*S*H in 1983 holds the record for the most viewers, at 106 million).
Sources cite the 1984 Apple commercial as the beginning of Bowl commercial madness. The ad used a recreation of George Orwell�s novel, 1984, in a Big Brother conformist society to launch the Macintosh personal computer. The one-minute commercial ended with the words, �You�ll see why 1984 won�t be like 1984,� and thus began what has become the legacy of the Macintosh computer. Apple�s �1984� ad was groundbreaking at its debut, motivating TV Guide to name it No. 1 on the �50 Greatest Commercials of all Time� list in 1999.
How successful are Super Bowl ads? In 1989, Anheuser-Busch � the only beer company advertising in that year�s Super Bowl � ran ads for Budweiser and subsequently documented a 17 percent rise in sales from the previous January. Since then, advertising during the Super Bowl has skyrocketed, with Anheuser-Busch filling seven advertising slots in the 2008 game, paying an estimated $18.9 million.
Another success story is Monster.com � an online job search network � which went from a high of 600 searches per minute before the Super Bowl to a peak of almost 2,900 searches per minute after three 30-second commercials during the 1999 game.
Advertising companies shelled out almost three cents per viewer for each 30-second commercial for the game Sunday. The magnitude of that is inconceivable. I personally am not going to go and buy a Hyundai Genesis even if it is, as the third-quarter ad claimed, �Spacious like a Mercedes S-class, yet priced like a C-class.� But the cute dancing lizards may inspire me to pick up a Life Water the next time I�m at the gas station.
Even with online videos boosting viewership, the choice of advertisers to air an often entertaining, but mediocre thirty-second ad is not worth the heavy price tag. But we count on the trend continuing because, honestly, does anyone watch the Super Bowl solely for the game?