February 7, 2013 | Vol. 116 -- No. 42

The evolution of the Super Bowl’s commercials and perception

Write to the Point

Let’s all be honest. For half of us, there’s really only one reason to watch the Super Bowl: the commercials.

Every year, the who’s who of marketing pull out all the stops, paying around $4 million for just 30 seconds of air time. For the most part, the commercials are lighthearted and fun, seeking to be entertaining while drawing a good return on those millions of dollars. All ages, both adult and children, bask in the humorous, obscure and serious for a few hours in the day.

The Super Bowl is more of a family event than anything, with kids waiting for the funny Doritos commercials, adults watching the game and plenty of others who are just there for the food.

Unfortunately, this year’s event seemed a bit out of touch.

People will recall the awkward, disgusting GoDaddy commercials, which have typically been risqué and off-color. This year was no exception.

The Calvin Klein advertisement followed the same vein.

And then there was the halftime show with Beyoncé. It’s obvious that the theme for quite a bit of the game presentation was simple: sex sells.

Some will say, “What’s the problem?”

It was only nine years ago in 2004 when the famous flash appeared with Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson. The fallout from that was fierce and swift, and it truly took a few years for the Super Bowl to recover its image. Paul McCartney, in one of the better recent halftime shows, helped to lead that effort in the following year.

It should make us think, however, about how we would react if the same thing happened today. Would we want the halftime show fixed? Would commercials tone things down?

Better yet, would we even care?

Our society has changed dramatically since 2004, when that incident happened. This year, a Washington Post column by Tricia Jenkins even posed the question of whether we need to cheer for America during the game's events.

Instead, Jenkins argues that the games have become something like a large, patriotic theater. She notes small flags worn on each of the players' uniforms, the customary flyover from military aircraft, it all just seems like a bit too much.

Back in 2004, it wasn’t even a question whether we should play the national anthem before a game or have members of our armed forces take part in honorable ceremonies beforehand.

Back in 2004, we had the standards to remember the Super Bowl was a family affair.

Thankfully, we can bask in the warm glow that came from this year's Jeep and Dodge commercials that depicted the values of hard work and dedication slipping from today's America.

Sometimes amidst the silly and absurd, the serious messages speak loudest.

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