Adscam’s George Parker on why all that Super Bowl ad foreplay spoilt the main event

Why were the ads in Super Bowl 2013 (at about $4m for thirty seconds) such a let-down? George Parker, the Prince of Idaho, reckons social media mania is the real culprit.

The Super Soporific Bowl-O-Rama!

Guess what? I didn’t watch the Super Bowl, ‘cos I’m too fucking old to sit through a sporting event that has sixty minutes playing time, but lasts all day. If I was that big a masochist, I’d sit on the Lord’s members terrace with Frank Lowe sleeping through test matches. Plus, there’s no reason to watch the ‘Super Bowl of Advertising,’ when you’ve already seen all the commercials a million times on every flavor of social media in the weeks leading up to the event.

Advertisers forget that the thing that made it the Super Bowl of Advertising was the anticipation followed by the dramatic disclosure on the day. The iconic example of this was Apple’s launch of the Mac via Ridley Scott’s ‘1984.’ At the time, the most expensive commercial ever made, and it only ran once. With the cost of a 30-second spot pushing $4m this year, you are going to see them before, during and repeatedly after the game.

Having said that, a couple of spots were actually saved for the event, including the indescribably horrific effort from Wonderful Pistachios, staring gangnam style icon, Psy, riding around on man-sized pistachios. I wanted to stab my eyes out with rusty knitting needles. If it does only run once, it’s one time too many.

Illustrating that ad agencies rarely learn from their past mistakes, the Frat/Fart boys at CP+B, once again spent obscene amounts of money for rapidly going broke client Best Buy. Last year they blew millions on Justin Bieber and Ozzie Osborne acting like wankers on a space ship, this year they hired Amy Poehler to talk non-stop about all kinds of things that people now buy on Amazon rather than at the mall.

As expected, Go Daddy scraped the bottom of the bad-taste barrel with its ‘Kiss’ offering. Most of the other spots were expected. Yeah, Bud’s baby Clydesdale was cute and rather tear-worthy. Did you know the breed originated in Flanders, not for pulling beer wagons, but for eating? Which, when you think about it, is rather like the Super Bowl. What originated as a unique vehicle for showcasing brands to a huge audience has degenerated into a very expensive proposition that has increasingly served up a menu of overpriced and over produced, but boringly safe, non-controversial offerings. Not the kind of things people get excited over round the Monday morning water cooler chat.

As for the actual game, the Super Bowl was a super screw up… A 34 minute delay ‘cos all the lights went off and several fire alarms were activated. Man, what is super about that? That’s what happened in the Coliseum at the end of the Roman Empire when they ran out of Christians to burn. I know, ‘cos I was there at the time, freelancing at Tiberius, Nero & Caligula, the first of the BDA’s. Then we were taken over by the Visigoth Holding Company. Nothing lasts forever… Except me… ‘Cos I’ve got that gnarly picture in the attic.

George Parker has spent 40 years on Madison Avenue. He’s won Lions, CLIOs, EFFIES, and the David Ogilvy Award. His blog is, 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.

This post first appeared on Adscam.

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