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  • Bruce Maiman

  • JEFF STAHLER / Universal Uclick

On the Lighter Side: Game's a sideshow to ad foolishness

Published: Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3E

When I think of the Super Bowl, I don't think about which group of plus-size men wearing leggings and suffering from multiple concussions will win. I think about how the game has been prostituted for the almighty dollar.

Everything is for sale and everything is overdone. We don't seem to mind, and the corporate overlords probably wouldn't care if we did. They serve it up anyway. This is the land of the 64-ounce Mega Jug soda, KFC's actual half-gallon plastic pail of corn syrup and water. We're not in the habit of saying "no" to excess.

Excess is the Super Bowl's middle name. It's probably the only cultural exercise that can equal, if not exceed, the commercial free-for-all of Christmas, right down to those Black Friday foragers in spandex. It's the otherrrr mooost wonderful time of the year! Our annual corporate belch, as a gluttonous nation gorges itself on an obnoxiously overbearing orgy of overkill.

Enabled by a media feeding frenzy, everything is magnified to the 10th power, from the rehashed story lines – the Harbaughs are brothers? – to throwaway trivia like the most common first name among Super Bowl starting quarterbacks. Feel the adrenaline!

Were it not for the Super Bowl, we'd never have heard about 49er cornerback Chris Culliver's comment that he wouldn't welcome a gay player in the locker room. (He's since apologized. What a surprise!) We'd never have heard about it if it weren't for Media Day. If it were up to the coaches, most wouldn't talk to the media at all, and wouldn't want them around their players.

But it's mandated by the NFL – Media Day, the Friday coaches conference, all those postgame press conferences, the insipid sideline interviews – because the NFL is joined at the hip with the TV networks, which only care about driving ratings so they get better ad rates, and they'll find any way to turn any meaningless filler into sellable content. That's how you get your Subway Halftime Report.

Honestly, does Subway actually think sponsoring a vacuous pregame show will get America craving veggie footlongs? What beer drinker buys Budweiser because they saw another commercial with a Dalmatian and a Clydesdale? What beer drinker drinks Budweiser?

Can it get any dumber than that Snow White blond chick in the KFC "couchgate" ad trying to go ghetto with hand gestures while saying, "Game Day Bucket go, boom!" Undoubtedly, the writer of that line thought it was sheer genius. Yeah, here I am talking about it, which is half the point of advertising, but no, the ad doesn't make me wanna buy buckets of chicken-fried Crisco so my large intestine can go boom.

A Coca-Cola ad no one noticed before is now suddenly racist because it's scheduled to air during the game. Apparently, a Sahara Desert race to some sort of sugary oasis portrays Arab participants as foolish camel jockeys with no chance of winning. Of course, if they did win, somebody else would be upset.

A Volkswagen ad with a white guy faking a Jamaican accent is deemed offensive. I remember the last time this happened. When Budweiser showed those frogs talking, the amphibian community was outraged.

And Taco Bell pulled a scheduled Super Bowl ad chastising party-poopers who bring veggie platters to Game Day because some health advocacy group worried that it might "discourage people from eating vegetables." Does this group think we're that stupid? Since when does Taco Bell have vegetarian customers?

Meanwhile, no one seems to notice the biggest problem with these ads: They're not funny.

My sister-in-law and her husband are going to the Super Bowl, invited through his business relations, all expenses paid. He likes football, but he won't be watching as much as he and other execs will be hobnobbing just like they might at some corporate convention.

She doesn't know the first thing about football. Never even been to a game.

In a way, that seems fitting because if there's one football game that has the least to do with a football game, it's the Super Bowl. Maybe that's funny. Or sad.

Me? I'm turning on the TV at 3:30, shutting it off at game's end, and ignoring the halftime hoopla in between. I guess that makes me an outlier. Or just a simple football fan.

Can it get any dumber than that Snow White blond chick in the KFC "couchgate" ad trying to go ghetto with hand gestures while saying, "Game Day Bucket go, boom!"

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Bruce Maiman



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