COLUMN: Kansas City may have won, but so did American advertising

The Super Bowl is often regarded as the largest sporting event of the year. While the big game attracts a lot of attention, it’s undeniable that its commercials have the very same effect on viewers.

Sofi Zeman is a first year journalism major MU. She is an opinion columnist who writes about government and politics for The Maneater.

Three words for you: Puppy. Monkey. Baby. Despite the fact that the Denver Broncos dominated the Carolina Panthers in 2016, all anyone remembers of Super Bowl 50 is the hilariously terrifying CGI creature that was used to sell Mountain Dew Kickstart. It was the topic of every discussion for weeks. Even today, the very mention of “Puppy Monkey Baby” brings a grimace to nearly each and every face. Yet at the end of the day, it got consumers talking about Mountain Dew Kickstart. This is the beauty of the modern Super Bowl advertisement.

Last week, the Kansas City Chiefs won Super Bowl 54 with a score of 31-20 over the San Francisco 49ers. Considering that this was the team’s second time in NFL history to win a Super Bowl, this was undoubtedly a significant endeavor for Missouri. Chiefs fans everywhere gathered in homes and bars across the nation to witness history in the making. With a campus that has a great deal of students from the Kansas City area, this was a massive occasion here at MU. When Sunday came around, it was guaranteed that nearly every eye in Columbia would have their eyes glued to the screen.

The Super Bowl is one of the most widely celebrated annual sporting events in the U.S. today. For 54 years, it’s been a staple American tradition that is observed in the eyes of many as a national holiday. While the big game itself is highly anticipated, the commercials that run alongside it are highly praised as well. Viewers often claim to be just as excited to see the advertisements as they are to watch the actual game. In today’s media climate, these commercials have even been regarded by some viewers as the primary attraction of watching the Super Bowl, according to a YouGov survey. In a world where every other day is spent hitting the fast forward button, why are these ads such a huge deal?

It goes without saying that one of the biggest sporting events of the year makes for prime-time advertising. When a company’s entire target audience is watching one program at the same exact time, it makes sense that it’d want to be seen in the process. Because this is such a desired and limited time slot, the average cost for a 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl ran for around $5.6 million in 2020. For this reason, ads are typically funnier, odder and have a lot more celebrity cameos than the everyday commercial. Companies spend a lot of money to get their ads in, so they want to make sure their audience enjoys and really pays attention to what is being said.

While Super Bowl commercials have been around for a long time, innovative ideas didn’t truly spark until the 1980s. It was Apple’s “1984” advertisement, which used elements from George Orwell’s novel of the same title, that truly set the standard for creativity in the television marketing world. Since then, the Super Bowl has become an outlet for companies to not only attract business, but also to outdo all other companies in the creative field.

Aside from the advertising talents of marketing companies, there are countless reasons why we love to watch these commercials. Because this game is such a major phenomenon in the U.S., even non-football fans feel an obligation to tune in. Having something amusing to see during the breaks gives these viewers something that they can enjoy and be able to talk about the next day at work with virtually anyone around them.

Additionally, these commercials provide some much needed comic relief for the losing team’s fans who need to take a break and laugh a little. There is also a sense of unity that comes from it. Whether you were watching from the couch on a plasma screen TV or in a crowded bar, you likely laughed to or rolled your eyes at the same commercial as the next person. Most importantly, it makes the entire day a little more fun. In some weird way, it feels like Super Bowl Sunday is more than just about the game and that everyone has their own thing to celebrate and get excited for.

It’s undeniable that these commercials have an extremely strong presence in American media. As time goes on and advancements in technology are made, one can only expect things to get increasingly more creative from here. Despite any and all negative feelings against these ads, it’s evident that they have some sort of impact on nearly every viewer. It’s important to remember that people love something they can hate, and advertisement companies know that too.

Edited by Bryce Kolk | bkolk@themaneater.com

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