Last weekend the LXVI Superbowl was played in Indiana. American football is a hugely popular sport and according to Nielsen it was the most-watched program in the history of US television, with 111.3 million US viewers; meaning that over 33% of the American population watched the initial broadcast. That’s a lot of eyeballs.
It is exactly for this reason that the Super Bowl commercials have become as important a part of the event, for some people, as the game itself. For this year’s Super Bowl all the commercials were sold out by Thanksgiving 2011 (November) at an average price tag of $3.5 million per 30 second spot(!) – this was the highest rate in Super Bowl history, to date. As you would expect, with price tags like that, it was only the largest of brands who were on display, with ads showing from Samsung, Pepsi, Doritos, Volkswagen, Acura, Audi, Honda, M&M’s, Coca-Cola and Chrysler.
And it’s not just the air time that brands spend their money on, Samsung’s commercial featured British glam rock group, The Darkness, Pepsi featured Elton John and X Factor winner Melanie Amaro, Honda showed Matthew Broderick and Chrysler had Clint Eastwood.
Some of the commercials referenced the game, such as Chrysler’s ‘half time’ ad and Coca-Cola’s ‘superstition’ ad. Others, such as Pepsi, Audi and Honda, played off of popular culture, with Pepsi’s set up similarly to an X Factor audition, Audi chose to advertise their new ‘daylight’ headlights with a play on Twilight style vampires, and Honda had Broderick in a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off set up (the 1986 movie Broderick starred in).
However it was Chrysler’s ‘half time’ commercial that seemed to win the ‘most controversial’ ad prize this year, albeit for different reasons than Groupon did last year. In the 2 minute-long Chrysler ad Clint Eastwood gives America its ‘half time pep talk’ saying “It’s half time in America too, people are out of work and they’re hurting, and they’re all wondering what they can do to make a come back, and we’re all scared, because this isn’t a game. The people of Detroit know a little something about this.”
Clint Eastwood is known for his support of the Republican party, so people were surprised to see him feature in a Super Bowl ad which spoke about the revival of Chrysler as an example of the American ‘come back’, given that Chrysler had received a government loan of $3.1 billion of taxpayers money. Shortly after the ad aired President Obama’s senior campaign adviser, David Axelrod, praised it as a “powerful” spot on Twitter, however Former Bush White House senior adviser, Karl Rove, told Fox News he was ‘offended’ by the ad. Many agreed it was a highly political ad, with debate raging across the internet. However Chrysler’s CEO has said it has “zero political content” and was not intended to be “any type of political overture“. Clint Eastwood himself has said “it was meant to be a message about job growth and the spirit of America“, he has also said that he is “not supporting any politician at this time,” but gave his blessing for either party to reference the commercial, or at least its message.
Whatever the true intention behind the commercial, it has certainly got people talking, which is after all, the point of advertising…
Scroll down to watch some of the Super Bowl commercials…