Understanding the Super Bowl

It’s hard to remember back 23 years ago, but back then, when dinosaurs walked the earth, a few things were true:

1. commercials were commercials–they sold stuff
2. content was content–it wasn’t filled with commercials (check out this tennis tournament via Patricia: not a billboard in sight).

The Apple ad changed everything. It was now commercial as content, commercial as event. The Apple ad was seen by more people after the game via free media than saw it during the game itself.

So, as you waste an evening watching television, understand that the media game you’re watching (as opposed to the football game) is not about selling anything per se. Instead, it’s about creating a short little movie that spreads. Yes, it’s permission marketing. Permission marketing because viewers are asking for the ads, they want the ads, they look forward to them. BUT, we’re not watching them because we want to buy or even to learn (the way, say, Google ads work). We’re watching because we want to be in on the joke, to have something to share. It’s big enough that there are entire web pages about the commercials. I’ll be contributing to the one at Adweek, at least until I get too bored with the game…

The commercial aspect of this is fascinating as well. Who wins? Probably not the shareholders. Someone at Frito Lay told me that they can prove that enough people buy chips during halftime (they leave their house and race out to the store) that the ads pay for themselves. But insurance?

The winners, I think, are the agencies and the pundits and those that would like advertising to be more than it actually is.