Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

January 30, 2014

JEFFREY McCALL: Advertisers waste dollars on Super Bowl commercials

Surveys say viewers ID product brand names 14% of time.

Adver-tisers have lined up again this year to spend huge dollars on commer-cials that will air during the Super Bowl. They might as well be dumping those dollars in the Hudson River as they cross the bridge from Madison Avenue on the way to MetLife Stadium.

A 30-second commercial on the Fox Super Bowl broadcast will cost $4 million. That’s up a million dollars in just four years. It’s the most expensive time on television, and all commercial availabilities have been sold.

Viewers who have little interest in football will still flock to their televisions to watch the Super Bowl commercials, hoping to see this pop culture art form at its best. In spite of the hype and anticipation each year, the commercials often disappoint. As a group, Super Bowl commercials are overproduced and offbeat, have too many special effects and present little focus on the actual product.

Last year’s Super Bowl commercials were creatively unimpressive and practically insignificant. The GoDaddy commercial featured nerdy Walter in a sloppy kiss with supermodel Bar Refaeli. A Doritos commercial featured grown men dressing up like princesses. The commercial for Oreos featured a brawl at a library. Library brawls always make people want to buy cookies.

Beyond the stupid factor in many Super Bowl commercials, however, is the negative social messaging found in some of these expensive, high-profile ads. Last year’s Taco Bell commercial portrayed senior citizens who escaped a retirement home in a mocking and clownish manner. Commercials for Axe Apollo and Speed Stick deodorants portrayed women in highly sexualized ways.

The companies wasting money to place ads in the Super Bowl broadcast apparently don’t realize how hard it is to get Super Bowl viewers to focus on commercials. Many viewers are watching the big game at parties, in large groups or in bars. The noise and distractions in these settings make it quite difficult for viewers to follow the commercial storyline or get the product’s message.

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