Have fun, be young

By Josh Albrecht

Once again, after a long season, America and roughly the rest of the world have prepared themselves for Jan. 28.

This Sunday is designated as Super Bowl Sunday, but in actuality and more importantly, it should be referred to as “I watch it for the commercials” Sunday. And why shouldn’t one watch the football game that decrees itself not only good, but super, solely for the purpose of watching the commercials. After all, this is when companies shell out a measly $2.4 million for 30 seconds of air time.

For that amount of money, the commercials ought to be pretty good, and usually they are. It’s hard to imagine that during the first Super Bowl, commercial time was at the low cost of $40,000.

But why have the commercial breaks during the Super Bowl become almost as popular as the game itself? The answer is oddly missing from most analyses. While these precious time slots serve up prime marketing space for companies, what’s in it for the viewers? Don’t we usually ignore the television when commercials come on, or better yet, flip through the other channels just so you don’t have to see or even hear another Slim Jim commercial for the rest of your life?

But a probable theory as to why these have become so popular is in view. In fact, these commercials are so sought after that Web sites such as Adcritic.com have an archive of previous Super Bowl commercials for the viewing pleasure of the public. Furthermore, msnbc.com has devoted an entire section to the coveted ads. Plus, in this computer-savvy age, I have 2 to 1 odds that every commercial will be on the Internet by the time Survivor II starts.

The theory is brought to light by Jane Weaver in an article on msnbc.com.

“A successful commercial emotionally connects with the audience,” she said.

This makes sense because I remember laughing at those crazy Budweiser frogs. I really don’t know why I laughed, but I did, so there must have been some sort of emotional attachment.

Also, it’s easy for one to reminisce about the famous Bud Bowl or the relentless onslaught of that annoying Pepsi girl. Who does she think she is? Dave Thomas of Wendy’s? I think not. And every year a Super Bowl ad busts into mainstream culture, fueling our minds.

The important thing to remember, though, is that some consider these commercials to be super mini-movies; some serious, but mostly all hit the genre of comedy. Ridley Scott, who directed “Gladiator,” also directed the 1984 Apple Computers epic.

The commercial made James Twitchell’s book “Twenty Ads that Shook the World: The Century’s Most Groundbreaking Advertising and How It Changed Us All,” because of how cinematic it was.

But now I am left asking, “How could a commercial shake the world, and why did Twitchell limit his book to just this century? He should have used the term ‘of all time’ because commercials didn’t exist before this century.”

Frankly, I don’t feel commercials can shape our lives in any way. A vehicle that is designed to get me to spend my money on products and services I really don’t need just doesn’t cut it as an art form. And even though I find the commercials funny, I understand these same commercials usually run for a few weeks after the game anyway (of course, there is that rare one that thinks it’s clever and only airs during the big game). My point is we shouldn’t take commercials seriously. Just sit back with a bowl of nachos and enjoy.

The tradition remains, and we will tune in to the game on Sunday and get our snacks during the game instead of commercial breaks. Hopefully, this year will surpass the disappointment of last year’s crop of Web site advertisers and the Super Bowl mainstays of Budweiser and Pepsi will make our television screens flicker with the glow of Super Bowl commercial glory.

And we know going into the Super Bowl that we will not be blinded by cathartic television, but rather we will be deafened by the debauchery that is television. And maybe somewhere deep down within ourselves it makes us happy to know that millions of others are sharing those moments with us. Or at least we will have something to talk about the next day at work.

But I take comfort in knowing that no matter how good the commercials are this Sunday, there is no way I am going to drink Pepsi.