Superbowl XLV

The Superbowl is a big deal. So big that even in London the media is willing to take one eye off the Premier League and whichever reality TV abomination is the flavour of the week and enjoy a bit of American extravagance.

Unfortunately for any actual fans of the American version, the football itself kicked off around midnight on Sunday, making it difficult to fit in the schedule, and obvious in the office the next day who had.

More, more, more

But the Superbowl is about much more than football. It’s the greatest show on earth, so America will have you believe, and it comes fully loaded with the following entertainment must-haves:

  • A celebrity bimbo from the city very publicly not knowing the words to the nation’s anthem, and in Texas let me tell you people have been lethally injected for less.
  • A legend collecting a massive paycheck and allowing a masterpiece to be mauled. Yes, Slash, I’m talking about what Fergie did to Sweet Child O’ Mine, and don’t you play all innocent you could’ve stopped it you were there.
  • A new record, breaking last year’s record, for being the most watched television programme of all time ever, helped by US Immigration apparently shutting down all illegal online viewers. But who’re you trying to fool, big brother, it’s the Internet, and kids these days are just better at it than you.

Retail heavyweights biting their thumbs at this so-called recession and splashing out $3 million for 30 seconds of advertising gold during the half-time break, more for half a minute than some beverage companies (not Coke, the other one) proudly advertised they donated to relief efforts for the Chile earthquake, the Haiti earthquake, Asian flooding, Australian wildfires and the China earthquake combined.

That last point, the advertising, is the one that really gets me thinking. And there is so much at play I could go on thinking for a long time, and still not claim to understand the beast that has been created. But if I may throw just one or a few unstructured ramblings together, while I have you here.

It’s business, and times are in fact tough, but someone very smart has sat down with a calculator and worked out that $3 million out will bring in much more than that, and it’s probably not for you or I to wonder, question or claim any moral high ground over it.

They made me want it

Because you see, those smart people with calculators have smart friends, and they have somehow got us to not only passively endure the advertising between halves, but to actually look forward to it, to talk about it, to wonder what those marketing men will come up with this year. That, more than anything, is the magic that makes the price tag seem like small change.

I doubt anyone actually made a buying decision based on Chrysler’s shameless two minutes of Eminem, but the smart people will tell you it’s about brand awareness, or something similar, and you might say you didn’t notice and your decisions would not be affected but they know better than you because they have spreadsheets and powerpoints and more acronyms than I could SMH at.

They made me do it

But to come to the point of this meandering maelstrom of meaningless ministry, I thought one of the half-time commercials was brilliant, and I want to share it with you, even though I know that’s exactly what they want me to do and God I’m just justifying some smart man’s $3 million calculations.

The ad is by Volkswagen, I believe, something about a new Passat. Which, away from the point again, remains the least sexy vehicle ever imagined, no matter how much they’ve tried to make it look like a grown-up Jetta. My grandfather used to drive a Passat, and even he was too cool for it.

Finally, the ad

Nevertheless, VW have come up with a cracker of an ad. It’s only a pity for them that after watching it I don’t want to buy a car, I want to somehow get myself a Darth Vader costume.


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