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In My Opinion
Watching the Ads... Forgetting the Game
Wednesday, February 6, 2013 • Posted February 6, 2013

All media, whether newspapers, radio stations or television channels, make absolutely no money from their content. They make derive a small percentage of their revenue from subscribers; but, that is not the driver behind their successes. That money comes from advertising.

There are ads for products (corn, tires, cars, shoes), for services (welding, plumbing, construction, bookkeeping), and for happenings (CASA gala, Habitat Fundraiser, Spanish Club Music Fest, barbecue supper). Newspapers and magazines average 50-70% advertising content, television shows 30-40%, and radio 20-30%. Pay attention to any of the media for any length of time, and the importance of the advertising becomes apparent very quickly.

Advertising is an art form. It requires understanding your audience, knowing their concerns, anticipating their needs. Though many people worry about the effect of television and movies upon our culture, advertising is often the driving force behind cultural trends and movements. If people in the ads look like they're having a great time when they're drinking Bobby's Beer, the viewer files that away and the next time they make a beer purchase, they pick up a six pack confident that they will be as happy as the folks in the commercial they saw. If the people driving the luxury car look relaxed and successful, we will purchase that car in the hope that our journeys will be just as comfortable and successful.

During the last few decades, I've often discovered that I enjoy the commercials between television episodes more than many of the shows. Because of the amount of research and artistry that goes into creating the advertising, the commercials have a built in appeal that the television show itself does not contain.

Nowhere is this more true than with the advertising during the Super Bowl. That one event is considered the high point of the advertising year. The rates are higher, the stakes are higher, and the production values are higher. Sometimes, the ads score more touchdowns than the teams playing on the big day. At other times, many advertisers have more fumbles than either team had all season.

I was actually waiting on an ad this year. I'd seen online "teasers" for the Super Bowl ad being put up by Blackberry. The company is in the midst of major retooling (on January 30th, they changed their name from Research in Motion to Blackberry, introduced an entirely new operating system unlike any currently being used in the telecommunications industry, and debuted their first phones running that new Blackberry 10 OS). The "teasers" were only still photos from their commercials, and I knew that the ad would be aired during the third quarter of the game.

As it played out, the ad was interesting; but, not exactly memorable. Additionally, less than five minutes after the ad ran, the power went out in the stadium, completely changing the dynamic of the game, the discussions around the game, and the things that viewers would remember.

There were some definite winners this year. I loved the new Budweiser Clydesdale ad. I thought the ads for Dodge honoring farmers, and Jeep offered up an ad paying tribute to our military. Doritos had one of the funniest ads involving a rather evil goat, and Best Buy scored with the always-funny Amy Poehler racing through the many questions someone might ask when looking at new products.

Go Daddy raised eyebrows, as they usually do, by mixing super models and nerds. Samsung confused viewers with an ad that seemed most intent on saying the company name as many times as possible; but, never really told the viewer why they should care.

The game got better once the power came back on after a 34 minute delay. The commercials are now available online at and are easier to watch when you're not racing for another plate of food or to get in line at the restroom. Most people will only remember that the power went out, not the game. But, they'll probably remember that Clydesdale foal for many years to come.

It’s all just my opinion.

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