Super Bowl 50 Killed The Super Bowl Star

Ah, the Super Bowl. What should have been the crowning of King Cam instead became a pounding by the legend that is Peyton Manning.

While the sporting achievement was amazing, the commercial offerings were not. As I am not Bob Garfield, I won’t go into a scorched-earth analysis on the creative ideas that were being aired at $5 million a pop.

That price tag gets you your spot on-air, but does not cover the cost of, say, Willem Dafoe, Helen Mirren, Christopher Walken, Drake, Janelle Monáe, Harvey Keitel, Ryan Reynolds, Liam Neeson, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Tony Hawk, Steve Harvey, Amy Schumer, Seth Rogen, Steven Tyler, Alec Baldwin, Serena Williams, Steve Marino, Jeff Goldblum, Abby Wambach, Kevin Hart or a raised-from-the-dead Marilyn Monroe.

Clearly that was the trend: In the absence of a breakthrough idea, let’s have a star do the talking. All of this, I presume, as part of marketers' quest for a long tail to their costly investment.

Last week, Online Video Daily editor P.J. Bednarski quoted Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst for Adobe Digital Index, discussing the Adobe study of the viewing expectations for Super Bowl 50. She said a “coordinated, multiscreen launch event is critical this year.” And: “We’re getting really close to the pinnacle of mass advertising with indiscriminate marketing coming to an end. More advertisers will be able to advertise for the Super Bowl, and it’ll mean fewer marketing moments for marketers.”



So the marketing industry proclaims that multiscreen messaging adds value back into the Super Bowl advertising investment.

I don’t know much about American football, but I want to throw a flag on the field (even though I'm not sure why they do that) and call for a timeout (I am also not sure if the flag on the field and the timeout have anything to do with one another. But you can ask me about the off-side rule in “soccer” anytime!).

I agree that the pinnacle of mass advertising with indiscriminate marketing is coming to an end. In fact, I think that ship sailed quite a few years ago. But the growth of multiscreen actually dilutes ratings for the spots that cost advertisers so much money.

Therefore, I think it is time we see those Super Bowl spots across multiple screens for what they really are: a fata manana.

No, that is not a typo, but a combination of “fata morgana” and “manana.” The dictionary explains the “fata morgana” or “mirage” as “something that is seen and appears to be real but that is not actually there.” “Manana” obviously is Spanish for tomorrow. Thus, the “fata manana” is an indication of an illusion that we think will happen tomorrow (the day after the Super Bowl). The reality is of course that it doesn’t, at least not to the degree that it makes for a positive ROI on a price tag of $5 million plus.

The Super Bowl remains an amazing TV moment. But it’s time to rethink the marketing strategy that justifies this kind of single event advertising investment, even if you use multiple screens. Or Marilyn Monroe.

P.S.: As a newly minted Charlottean, I was devastated.

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