Home / Advertisers / George Parker: why this year’s Super Bowl ads won’t be as brave as Apple’s ‘1984’

George Parker: why this year’s Super Bowl ads won’t be as brave as Apple’s ‘1984’

In just under two weeks, once again, America’s Adverati will blow billions on 30-second spots costing upwards of $5 million each to reach an audience of churls who will most probably be taking a pee just when your $5 million epic is airing. Not that it matters, ‘cos you will have already run the shit out of it on social media and other digital platforms for weeks prior to the event.

On the other hand, some smart advertisers spend their bucks on digital and social platforms in the weeks leading up to the game, and then claim their commercials never appeared because, in the case of GoDaddy, their execrable in-house spots featured way too much of Danica “I never won a race, but check out my arse” Patrick’s nakedness. Or Droga5’s claim on behalf of Newcastle Brown, that they couldn’t afford to buy the time. “No Bollocks.”

This time around, I can guarantee you that most of the ads will be even more mediocre than usual… Why? Remember last year’s ad for Nationwide, where a child talked about all the things he would miss because he died in an accident, which generated a shitstorm of criticism, leading the insurance company to post a response to the “fierce conversation” started by its Super Bowl ad. Oh yes indeed. The last thing you want your advertising to do is make people think.

Instead, let’s do Clydesdales, young people having orgasms over fizzy drinks and happy families in giant SUVs and trucks having fun on the rapidly crumpling open roads. This being a thinly veiled reference to the fact that the top five Super Bowl advertisers since 2005 have been Anheuser-Busch, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Chrysler and General Motors. Yawn… To get all the videos of past winning and losing spots, what’s happening this year and all the background information relevant to them, go to uber-site Super Bowl Commercials 2016.

On the other hand, you could have a winner in the shape of the Darth Vader costumed kid who made the VW car obey his commands… And then the Obersturmbahnfuehrers of Wolfsburg screw around with their emission standards and the force is totally fucked. Further proof that advertising can’t fix anything, let alone everything.

So we come back to what made the Super Bowl of Football into the Super Bowl of Advertising. I have written about this for years, so I promise to keep this particular rant short and concise. Or at least until the Fourth Reich Potato Vodka runs out.

It started with ‘1984’ back in 1984. Forget all the stuff I have written in the past about how this was, at the time, the most expensive commercial ever made. How Apple’s board hated it and tried to sell the time (back then a few thousand dollars) got no buyers, so were forced to run it… How Jay, Clow, Hayden and Goldberg convinced GodJobs that running it more than once would devalue the impact of this revolutionary piece of advertising history… No, the single most important lesson to be learned from this is that no agency existing today would have the balls to stick their necks out as far as these guys did thirty odd years ago. And how many clients would agree to it?

You know the answers to both questions.

Oh, and you have to admire George Orwell’s definition of our business… “Advertising is the rattling of a stick in a swill pail.” The guy certainly had a way with words.

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About George Parker

George Parker has spent 40 years on Madison Avenue. He’s won Lions, CLIOs, EFFIES, and the David Ogilvy Award.
His blog is adscam.typepad.com, which is required reading for those looking for a gnarly view of the world’s second oldest profession.” His latest book, Confessions of a Mad Man, makes the TV show Mad Men look like Sesame Street.
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