In this week's edition of my Yay Awesome America F-Yeah power rankings, I've got radio rock riding a new Journey hits compilation up to number 5, freedom surging to number 4 (a post-conventions bounce?), halter tops falling from the top spot to number 3 (boooooo, September!), barbecued meats holding steady at number two and football - awesome American football, not the spritzy foreign kind -- back at the top after a seven-month convalescence. To the surprise of nobody, Francophilia and organic produce remain tied at number 3,747,201.
Holy heavens, I couldn't have enjoyed football's return any more, even as my fantasy teams did everything in their power to chip away at my sense of self-worth. The camera-ready snarls, the breezy jingoism, the proud overabundance of salt-spackled snacks - the NFL season offers more delights than a fireworks tree. It will carry us through early February; one could make a convincing argument that it has more of a galvanizing effect on our national psyche than budget surpluses and Nobel recognition combined.
But all the marketing in, up and around the game? It's long been my belief that the NFL and its brand partners underestimate the fans, peppering them with dolt-saturated ads (heck to Betsy, those 20-somethings have $140 haircuts; how are they not able to acquire a bottle of Bud Light without resorting to deceit or tomfoolery?) rather than straight-ahead "listen, it's football so we know you're not fast-forwarding through this message. Our brand/product/service has many features and/or elements that are good/useful/non-carcinogenic, so buy it, please" spots. Football is God's great bounty; football marketing is overbearing and idiotic.
That's why I'm pretty well swayed by a pair of welcome-to-2012 videos produced by The Famous Group on behalf of the Houston Texans (motto: "playoff virgins no more") and St. Louis Rams ("once-divorced franchise seeks fan base for companionship, travel, light housekeeping"). Neither of the clips, set to be shown during the teams' respective home openers and then beamed universe-wide via the wonder of the Internet, breaks new ground. With its familiar mix of thumping soundtrack and fast-slow-fast-slow editing gymnastics, the St. Louis spot hits the expected notes in terms of content (orbital-bone-displacing hits) and production values (expensive-looking). The Houston one, on the other hand, could have been lifted from the final season of 24, what with its hand-activated, technology-o'-tomorrow computer screens and digital bleeps and burps.
At the same time, both do precisely what they're supposed to do: Rev fans up to the extent that they're ready to head-butt their seatmates (for those at the stadium) or bathroom fixtures (for those at home). Too, at around 90 seconds in length, the two clips administer a healthy jolt but leave the viewer wanting more. After watching the clips, I couldn't head over to NFL.com for a "brief" session of highlight-perusal fast enough.
Both compare favorably with the videos showcased during game lulls at the New York Giants' home opener last week, anyway. The first approached tasked players with revving up the crowd ("make some noise, if it's not too much of a bother. Thx!"), while the second showcased clips from last season patched together SportsCenter-style. Neither did a lot for me, especially given that they were paired with piped-in crowd noise. That's bad form for a franchise that holds up its fan base as the cheering, beering embodiment of blue-collar rectitude.
In any event, my inclination is to give The Famous Group a bunch of credit, because making clips like these stand on their own is no easy task. With the exception of Jaguars fans, such as they are, NFL nuts don't need an enthusiasm booster shot; by early August, they've already ironed their authentic replica jerseys and remodeled their tattoos to include their team's big offseason additions. That a pair of videos can still deliver a charge says a lot about the skill and attention to detail with which they were produced.