Sunday, February 1, 2009

The best Super Bowl ad is one-second long

As an advertising instructor in Canada, the Super Bowl has always been a bittersweet time: you know there are great ads being shown during the broadcast in the U.S., but as a Canadian viewer, you're stuck watching ads for Best Sleep Centre and Doug Dufresne.

This is owning to the CRTC's signal substitution rule:

"Signal substitution is done to bring millions of advertising dollars back into the Canadian broadcasting system. Advertising revenues are also what enable Canadian broadcasters to bring you programming such as the Super Bowl.

"When broadcasters buy programs from American and Canadian producers or networks, they pay for exclusive distribution rights in their home markets. The simultaneous substitution regulation, set out in the CRTC's Cable Regulations, is designed to protect those rights. These regulations permit Canadian broadcasters who purchase American programming, to use signal substitution as a means to earn advertising dollars."

Bummer. Or so I thought until I discovered that this rule doesn't pertain to HD signals. Sez the CRTC:
"It is the Commission's policy that a signal of a better quality should not be replaced with a lesser quality signal. This means that the signal of a non-Canadian broadcaster should only be replaced with that of a Canadian broadcaster where the Canadian broadcaster's signal is of the same or better quality than the non-Canadian one."
Woo-hoo! So, having no interest in sports whatsoever, I recorded the Super Bowl and did the opposite of what's slowly killing the broadcast industry: I fast-forwarded through the game and stopped to watch the ads.

One hour later, I not only knew the outcome of the game, I'd come to the conclusion that my favorite ad was a one-second "burst" from Miller (see above).

So, I could've finished with the game in one second, but then I wouldn't have wondered what Gen. Patraeus was doing flipping the coin at the start of the game (insert the Iraq joke of your choice here), and whether Bruce Springsteen has had plastic surgery, why his new song required a gospel choir, and why his crotch featured not once, but twice during key moments of the performance.

Super Bowl ad observations:

1. Movies really suck these days. The trailer for Pixar's "Up" looked intriguing. And maybe Star Trek. But I thought we were done with Vin Diesel.

2. Budweiser dropped about $10 million on spots, and now I'd really like a horse and dalmation for my birthday. The beer? OK, I guess that'll do.

3. 3D technology: over-promising and under-delivering for over 50 years (Sobe).

4. It's OK to show a guy getting hit by a bus if he lives (Doritos).

5. GE spends millions to sell us on "smart grid technology." So what the hell is it?

6. Coke Zero's Mean Joe Greene parody shows that even Coke is willing to drag its brand though the mud by mocking a classic ad that actually has meaning to people.

7. I liked the and spots, but wondered why - in the bad economy - the ads are for people who hate their jobs instead of people who have been laid off.

8. Denny's made me laugh with its "serious breakfast" spot. But I'm still not going to eat there. "If I wanted a big slam, I'd go to a..." Awww, forget it.

9. Pepsi Max is a diet soft drink for men. I don't know any men on a diet. A tear runs down the cheek of the first P of marketing...

10. Go Daddy and Doritos keep the flame of sexism alive. And Danica Patrick proves that she will clearly do anything for money (Go Daddy).

11. Conan O'Brien's Bud Light ad is pretty funny. And he apparently didn't get paid for it. But it reminded me that beer that comes from "overseas" is better than beer that comes from "overland."

12. Pedigree has a cool "adopt a dog" spot. But even more cool may be the behind-the-scenes videos posted on If the website would come back up...

I caught up to the end of the game pretty quickly and was surprised to discover that the last two minutes were actually pretty good. But not as good as the one-second Miller spot.

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