Like many Americans, I think the Super Bowl is fun to watch. In a regular game, the time to run and grab things is during commercials. For the Super Bowl, however, many Americans care about watching the commercials as much as the game itself.
The phenomenon started back in 1973 during Super Bowl VII, in an ad for Noxema shave cream (is it even still available?) featuring football star Joe Namath and Farrah Fawcett, who was a supermodel before there were supermodels.
Over the years, there have been many classics. Who can forget Wendy’s 1984 ad with the “Where’s the beef?” question. The year 1984 also had Apple Computer promising a new and different type of computer called the Macintosh, and in retrospect, that ad can probably be looked upon as a major stepping stone in the evolution of Super Bowl commercials. 1980 was the year of the No. 1 Super Bowl ad of all time, featuring Pittsburg Steelers defensive tackle “Mean” Joe Greene tossing his game jersey to a kid who gave Greene a bottle of Coke.
The 1990s had its share of memorable ads as well. The Budweiser Clydesdales playing football and kicking a field goal instead of going for two points is one still remembered by many. The McDonald’s 1993 ad, featuring basketball legends Larry Bird and Michael Jordan battling for a Big Mac, was also a classic, and caused the words “nothin’ but net” heard in gymnasiums and playgrounds across America for years. Pepsi also had a memorable ad in 1992 when it introduced a new can design for the drink, and two adolescent boys staring in awe at Cindy Crawford as she got a Pepsi from a vending machine. They were admiring the new can and not Crawford. The decade also brought us to see G.I. Joe swing Barbie away from Ken in order for her to ride in his Nissan.
The 2000s have had a few cute ones over the past 20 years, such as the Snickers ad featuring the ever-popular and never-grow-old Betty White, the E*Trade baby, the Doritos “Middle Seat” ad, and FedEx putting together 10 things that make a perfect Super Bowl ad.
Over the past few years, however, Super Bowl ads have being lackadaisical and boorish. This year’s Doritos ad with Sam Elliot was probably my favorite, followed by a remembrance of the movie "Groundhog Day." The rest, though, were easily forgettable and underachieving. The two billionaire contenders for the U.S. presidency, President Donald Trump and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, also had to show their wealth by shelling out the cool $5.6 million per ad to tout a reason to consider them in November. Google had to have a touching ad as well, which would have been OK if it had not been so darn depressing.
After getting all geared up for a party and some fun, Google had to remind me I will be getting old and forgetful, and Trump and Bloomberg had to remind me that we Americans have 10 more months of national political ads. In 1980s lingo: Gag me with a spoon. Thanks to those three for putting a real damper on an otherwise darn good game.
Overall, I personally was disappointed in this year’s ads. If I had a client paying $5.6 million for 30 seconds of airtime, I think I would at least make them something memorable. Boring ads, plus no wardrobe malfunction at the halftime show, equals yawn. At least the game was exciting. Go, Chiefs!
Randy Gibson is the CEO of RDG Communications Group, LLC, and the former director of the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce and the Texas State Rifle Association.