Today at 6:30 PM, the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos will meet head-to-head for Super Bowl 50. (NOTE: Super Bowl L just doesn’t have the same ring to it; I wonder if that’s why they stopped using Roman numerals. Maybe it’s that the nation would begin to wonder if the word ‘bowl’ was actually spelled with two L’s.) Regardless, the point remains that this Sunday will be the 50th representation of the greatest sporting spectacle in the United States.
Every year, the collective masses gather around their television to stuff their faces with assortments of beer, dips, and chicken, and to watch some American football. But, what your watching is much more than just a football game.
Through the four-hour spectacle you’re exposed to advertisements, pregame festivities, a halftime show, a (few) drunken party guest(s), all wrapped around what you came to see in the first place… Janet Jackson’s left boob. There are far more ingredients in the Super Bowl than that shitty crab dip your over-eager brother-in-law won’t stop telling you to try. If you’ve been watching TV over the past couple of weeks, no matter the channel, you’ve seen promotions for NFL Media Day, the Pro Bowl, the Pro Bowl Draft, and of course the Super Bowl.
We’re promised a football game, but instead we get all of this pomp and circumstance. Which is fine, that’s the world we live in. Just like Andy Dufresne we have to crawl through a river of shit to come out clean on the other side. If you don’t like it you can catch the highlights on Monday morning. But the truth is, if we pay attention, we’re lucky.
*Where is the football??*
When it comes to advertisements this is their Super Bowl too. Only the best of the best make the cut. Those that do are subject to the highest levels of scrutiny, as mothers everywhere hush the crowd and fawn over the Budweiser Clydesdales. A quick poll of party guests will reveal the inevitable truth: at least one is only there for the ads. The average 30-second ad in a primetime slot costs about $340,000, nothing to scoff at by any means – until you look at the cost of an ad during the Super Bowl. $5,000,000. That’s a lot of zeroes. There are a lot of people watching so for some advertisers the return is worth the cost. It’s also worth it for us to watch, there are some seriously creative ads coming out this year and my friends at Adweek (I know them but they don’t know me) have put together a package of previews for your viewing pleasure.
So here we are, sitting on our couch, leaning on the bar, face planting into a plate of nachos, and we’re all watching the game. Finally. You hear the trumpets blare from the Super Bowl Theme and Jim Nantz and Phil Simms’s sultry voices let you know that the game is about to begin… in another hour and a half. That’s right. You’ve just fell victim to the oldest tease in the book, the pregame show. A show in which every reporter in the history of ever gives you their two cents on the game and its possible outcomes. Want to see every touchdown from the 2015-16 Playoffs? You’re in luck. Do you enjoy John Madden impressions done by Frank Caliendo? Neither do I. But folks, that’s what Youtube is for, we can watch it all there! Here let me show you:
Terrible. But there you have it. Your pregame show brought to you, from me, in my MKT 310 class. I hope you liked it.
Moving on to the game itself, the big kahuna, THE SUPER BOWL! Fun fact: in an average football game there are 11 minutes of action. That’s not a typo. In a 4 hour game, only 4% of that is actual game play. The rest? Ads, players standing around waiting for the next play, and replays with all the angles you can imagine. But, just like the Super Bowl this article is less about the game than the events surrounding it.
Let’s fast forward to the halftime show.
This is where all the taxpayer money goes. The halftime show has more production value than a Michael Bay film and probably more explosions. This year we’ll see Coldplay, Beyoncé, and Bruno Mars perform on another outrageous stage. Will this one fly? Spin? Turn into an actual Transformer?
*I guess Transformers has already been done*
The possibilities are endless during the Super Bowl so, expect the unexpected. 30 minutes of set up, 15 minutes of performing, and 20 minutes of take down. This is to give the players enough time to knit a sweater, watch the show, and take a day trip into Santa Clara before the second half begins.
If you didn’t know any better you might think all this hoopla was in the wake of the Presidential campaign, but Super Bowl 50 overshadows even that. It’s just more American. The fanfare, the revenue, the cheerleaders, the food. All of it oozes with the American dream, more so than old geezers talking about the economy. Trump gets it. The NFL does too. They milk the game for all its worth because they know that at the end of the day we will all be there watching every second of it. I know I will.