By Josh Silver
This Sunday millions of people will be tuned in to the ultimate game of football. Last year, 111 million people gathered together with their friends and family to gorge themselves on chips and pizza and scream at their television. The Super Bowl has consistently been the most watched game in sports. However, it is also when we see some of the most famous commercials in the history of television. Every year, the ads during the Super Bowl garner more and more attention, reaching the point where even people that don’t watch the game talk about the commercials the next day. As it is every year, Sunday will be a no-holds-barred competition, not just for the Giants and Patriots, but also for the advertisers. No shock there, considering that the average price for a 30-second commercial during the Superbowl is $3.5 million.
Sometimes, Super Bowl commercials become so famous that people re-watch them over and over for years to come. I wasn’t even alive in 1984, but I still know of the famous Apple commercial that announced the coming of Macintosh. Who could have predicted (other than genius advertisers) that a bullfrog who says ‘Bud-Wise-Err’ would be this memorable? These ads have become iconic in their own right and some might even say the ads have begun to dwarf the game itself. For many individuals it’s not about the battle between the Patriots and the Giants but about the continuing battle of wits between Coke vs. Pepsi, Honda vs. Toyota, and Budweiser vs. Coors. I know I’ll be looking forward to the latest installment of www.godaddy.com commercials.
In the days leading up to Super Bowl XLVI, many companies have begun to leak spoilers of their commercials and in some cases, have released the entire ad. Of these leaked commercials, the greatest buzz is coming from a Honda ad that features Matthew Broderick revisiting the role of Ferris Bueller. If you search YouTube, you will find leaked ads for companies like Priceline, Acura, Honda, Coca-Cola, and H&M as well. The Coca-Cola Bears even have an ad inviting people to their Super Bowl party.
In these modern times, the whole point of a Super Bowl ad is to create that ‘buzz’ in the days following the game. Everyone’s out to create that next viral video. However, since many of the ads are being leaked to YouTube prior, something strange is happening. Yes, the leaks seem to have had the desired effect, spreading like wildfire throughout the internet. But it begs the question. Are 100 million views in the week prior to the Super Bowl the same as 100 million views in the day after? I think not. By leaking these ads early, companies like Honda, Doritos, and Priceline may have generated the desired buzz but devalued the ads themselves. Part of the whole excitement is in not knowing what to expect when the Patriots take their first time out. It’s as if Little Timmy got to play with his Christmas toys for a whole week before his mother wrapped them. Would he really still be that excited over some toy train he’s already gotten bored with? Timmy will probably throw that toy at the wall and demand a new one.
The internet has tarnished us. Hyper-exposure is the new norm and we expect all information streamed to us beforehand. Anticipation loses its potency when the next big thing is only a click away. In a world where everyone wants to be the first, the most talked about, the most viral, and the biggest, has even something as sacred as the Super Bowl lost its innocence?