|In today’s FOX Sports Insider: An inside look at those famous Super Bowl ads … profiles on Nick Bosa, Kyle Shanahan, and Patrick Mahomes … and one Tom Brady rumor rises when another is debunked. |
Clock management is a crucial part of football, and never more so than during the biggest game of all. Best-laid plans can be scuttled because a few ticks here or there went astray.
And so it is during those times when the official game clock isn’t running and one of America’s great annual pastimes kicks in. If watching the Super Bowl is one of the nation’s ultimate family occasions, catching the commercials might be the most inclusive part of it all.
“Everyone loves the commercials,” Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield told me on Friday. “I remember getting almost as excited for that as for the game.”
Given that everyone from diehard football aficionados to even those with only a passing interest in the sport come together to enjoy and analyze the best ads, the pressure is on for advertisers to make the most of every second.
Great Super Bowl ads go down in folklore. Those that don’t hit the mark suffer the worst fate known to Madison Avenue: they are instantly forgotten.
“When it comes to the advertising world, the Super Bowl … is the Super Bowl,” Seth Winter, executive vice president of FOX Sports sales told me in a telephone conversation this week. “It is as big as it gets.”
In some ways, the bursts of commercials that break up the game are perfect for a modern audience accustomed to bite-sized chunks of entertainment.
Millions of dollars and thousands of hours of creative thought are invested into pieces of work that take up the briefest windows of time. The pressure to perform is on par with what the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs players are facing, albeit with less physical intensity.
“The Super Bowl is not for the weak of heart,” Winter said. “For a creative director, it can make or break their career. You need some cojones to put together a great Super Bowl campaign.”
Everyone has their own personal favorites. Some of the most widely acclaimed in history include the Old Spice classic from 2010, Cindy Crawford’s Pepsi moment in 1992, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird duking it out over a Big Mac and those subsequently irksome Budweiser frogs.
Anheuser-Busch, which makes Budweiser and Bud Light, has won USA TODAY’s Ad Meter (which judges the most popular ads) no fewer than 14 times, while the National Football League itself crushed it last year with its epic fight for a ball featuring 40 players from across generations.
As usual, there will be plenty of variety across the spots, from entertainment to goods and services, charitable calls to action and political messages. According to Winter, expect a lot of long-form spots this year, with more placements of above 30 seconds than those of the typical length.
“There is a lot of storytelling, and a lot of it is very uplifting,” Winter added. “That’s something that just always seems to work. If you can tug at someone’s heartstrings using that period of time that you have their attention — those are the ones that really do well. Being funny works. Nostalgia works. Family and community always works.
“There is emotion, humor, star power — you will see a lot of celebrities. Overall, it’s getting more and more creative. and this one will be the best ever in terms of creativity.”
Huge teams put months of effort into making the commercials, but plans can be affected by tragic or unforeseen events. A campaign by Planters that involved the death of the Mr. Peanut character was sensitively altered after the passing of NBA legend Kobe Bryant and eight others in a helicopter crash.
The impact of the commercials on the viewing audience can be difficult to calculate — the numbers reflect how many people are watching, but not necessarily why.
However, a strong indicator was provided by the 2014 game hosted by the New York area. A 43-8 blowout in favor of the Seattle Seahawks — as they decimated the Denver Broncos — saw no dip in ratings at all, which was widely attributed to viewers sticking around to watch the commercials.
Super Bowl Sunday is one of America’s special days, when the most popular game in the country reaches its crescendo. The pageantry, the ceremony, the halftime show, the razzamatazz … it is all part of it. And the commercials are right up there as an integral cornerstone of it all, the first thing many people thing of.
“I’m sat down with my eyes glued to the screen when the commercials are on,” Miami homemaker Thelma Diaz told me. “When the game starts up again, I’m up getting food or making drinks.
“I’m sure I’m not the only one who does that.”
Here’s what others have said …
Dade Hayes, Deadline: “If the commercial breaks on Sunday’s broadcast seem fewer but longer, you’re not imagining things. Fox decided to mix things up this year by coordinating with the NFL and eliminating one break per quarter, going from five to four. The overall volume of ads consistent with years past, and the “floater” time is expected to amount to about two-and-a-half-extra minutes of commercial time.”
Debika Sihi, Adweek: “It will be interesting to look back in another 20 years to see how the brands and ads of the 2020 Super Bowl compare to those featured in 2040. It’s possible how we watch and consume content will have changed very much in that time. As we go from dot-com to the Dolly Parton challenge, Super Bowl ads provide a visual and entertaining way to capture this chronology.”
Ken Wheaton, Fortune: “Over time, Americans may lose interest in the Super Bowl, but it hasn’t happened yet. And digital media now provides marketers more efficient ways to reach highly-targeted audiences to drive sales and conversions. But for now, the game still provides the sort of audience that marketers used to take for granted—100 million people, all leaning in to the same thing, at the same time.”The Athletic’s Marcus Thompson II writes about Nick Bosa, who overcame stigma and became beloved in the 49ers’ locker room.Michael Rosenberg at Sports Illustrated explains why Patrick Mahomes is on the path to all-time NFL greatness.Kyle Shanahan is always one step ahead. Robert Mays at The Ringer breaks down all the ways San Francisco’s coach can beat you.
On Friday, there were brief rumors linking Tom Brady to the Tennessee Titans, but a report indicating Brady and his family were scouting schools in the area turned out to be false. (There is still the Mike Vrabel connection, but that’s all that’s linking Brady to the Titans at this point.) Peter King over at NBC Sports believes there’s a “sleeping giant” in the Brady sweepstakes, however: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. King is hearing rumblings that Jameis Winston’s contract demands may be more than Tampa Bay is willing to pay, and combine that with Brady possibly being attracted to playing in a Bruce Arians offense … you never know.
It’s been a full week of Kobe Bryant tributes, and the Lakers saved the best — and most emotional — for last. In their first home game since Bryant’s death on Sunday, Kobe shirts were passed out to every fan in attendance, every Lakers player was introduced as “Kobe Bryant” … and LeBron James brought tears to the eyes of everyone in the building when he broke from the script and spoke from the heart.Lock It In (FS1, 3:30 p.m. ET)
Before the big game, catch a special Saturday live edition of Lock It In, hosted by Rachel Bonnetta. Cousin Sal, Todd Fuhrman and Clay Travis will tell you where all the action is this weekend.
The Great Brady Heist (FOX, 7 p.m. ET)
To get you primed for the Super Bowl, FOX will premiere this hour-long, in-depth documentary about the theft of Tom Brady’s jersey following Super Bowl LI and how it was recovered.
Australian Open Men’s Finals (ESPN, Sunday, 3:30 a.m. ET)
If you’re up and at ‘em early on Sunday (or late Saturday), you can catch the men’s finals live from the Australian Open. No. 2 in the world Novak Djokovic seeks his eighth title at the event as he faces Dominic Thiem.
Odds provided by FOX Bet
Blake Bell receiving yards higher than Robbie Gould kicking points: +105
Here’s a fun one. So far this postseason, 49ers kicker Robbie Gould has scored 9 and 13 points on his own via field goals and extra points. Chiefs TE Blake Bell — Kansas City’s second TE option behind Travis Kelce — had 15 yards against Texans, and no targets against the Titans. He averaged 8.4 yards per game during the regular season. Can he break out on Sunday? Can the Chiefs limit Gould’s opportunities? We’ll find out.
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