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Super Bowl commercials are lame and it's all our fault

Josh VanDyke • Feb 17, 2019 at 3:00 PM

The Super Bowl has stood as the pinnacle of professional football for 53 years, but over time, the day itself has morphed into an even grander stage for cultural statements made through marketing and entertainment.

Millions of Americans host or visit parties for that one Sunday evening in early February, but the majority aren't overly concerned with the score of the game or the players or storylines involved, unless you like betting on Super Bowl prop bets (tails never fails).

Most, if not all, of the people who watch the Super Bowl lean a little closer to their TVs once there is a break in the action and the television commercials begin.

That's because we're hoping that marketing teams across the globe will deliver with some funny, clever or at least memorable experiences through the art of advertising that will make us forget that we're watching a root canal of a football game late in the third quarter.

This year, the lowest scoring Super Bowl game of all-time, mixed with an equally unimpressive Maroon 5 halftime concert, was superseded by the most mundane collection of television advertising in the history of television.

And I can't even be upset because it's our fault as viewers.

After some controversial ads hit the airwaves during the 2017 Super Bowl, some of which were politically charged, there was a serious backlash. People were offended when Coca-Cola and Airbnb choose to touch on immigration and diversity with their ads, while others were grabbing their torches and pitchforks when a new-look Mr. Clean broke out some dance moves that were "lecterous in nature" according to some reviews.

But, at least those commercials had us talking the following Monday.

If it wasn't for the NFL's "100-year Game" commercial, which featured a litany of Hall of Fame players turning a press conference into a ballroom blitz, I'm not sure there would have been any memorable moments from the commercial breaks.

It wasn't long ago that Super Bowl commercials were almost like the cartoon section of the newspaper brought to life. A few funny or well-written situations played out in front of us that we could consume as an audience, while the company sold its product to us.

But now, everyone is offended by everything.

Why make an edgy Super Bowl commercial when you could get thrown to the social media trolls who will brand your company with a #Boycott in an effort to appear more outraged than the person standing next to them in the angry mob.

Companies can't make us laugh anymore, so they instead play it safe and dish out boring slop that is not fun, entertaining or engaging. Gone are the days of Reebok's Terry Tate the Office Linebacker commercial, where an overly aggressive football player would put employees through a cubicle wall for not loading the printer, or a Snickers' ad that featured an angry Betty White playing tackle football.

Now, we're stuck with Bud Light riding the coattails of the Game of Thrones franchise's medieval schtick as one of the better ads of this year's slate. But even that offended some people, as a Bud Light Knight being crushed by a zombie-version of The Mountain of Game of Thrones fame and a dragon spitting fireballs from the sky was deemed "too dark” by some audiences.

So, if a fictional medieval commercial can draw negative feedback, I can't wait to see how boring next year's slate is.

Maybe Purell can come up with some sort of clever way of showcasing it's sanitizing powers and apply it to the current state of American culture.

I know I wish I could sanitize the memory of Maroon 5's Super Bowl performance from my brain. The only thing worse than the band's music is Adam Levine's tattoos.

But, again, that falls on us as the viewing audience.

We complained for years that the Super Bowl Halftime Show was too mild. Then, we had a mishap with Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson, so, the NFL trotted out Paul McCartney, Tom Petty and The Who to counter their previous edginess.

As a society, we can't agree on what's good music anymore, so the NFL does its best to find a big name act that will draw some attention to its halftime entertainment. Personally, I just don't think there's a lot of quality music being produced anymore, but it's hard to hear the tunes when everyone is constantly yelling at each other after a television commercial hurts their feelings.

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