The Super Bowl moment

Latest viewing figures confirm that this year’s Super Bowl, which aired last Sunday, was the most watched programme in US TV history. I know it’s a tradition, and as such, I should play along in blissful approval but I can’t. I can’t help but feel the Super Bowl Moment is the (old) ad industry’s way of justifying its own existence, with blockbusting productions and media budgets attempting to re-write the future of a brand overnight.

Ironically, most of the ads were ‘leaked’ onto YouTube before the $3.5million media spot this year, probably turning the Super Bowl into the most expensive seeding strategy money can buy. The now (supposedly) viral films allow brands and advertisers to feel happy about their new-found control over social media.

Some of the 30 second Moments were entertaining, some annoying, others not worth mentioning but all are casualties of the fact that the Super Bowl is so very very popular. My thoughts on the whole shooting match are split simply into Likes and Dislikes.


It’s a great way to get in front of a huge audience – 111 million viewers to be more precise. These people will not plonk themselves in front of the telly again at the same time for another year (In the west at least) – that’s got to be good.

This media event has the power to re-set your brand. It can change people’s perception of you, good or bad.


Safe creative. With so much at stake the creative really suffers. Ads resorting to the old clichés of cute animals, celebrities, slapstick and the rape of pop culture, all lead to less inventive and less engaging ideas. (A particular low-light was Chryslers odiously patriotic inspiration fest to get people buying good old American products again.)

The ads are still very traditional. They bark out their message, longing for approval. Lacking in depth, engagement and the ability to spark conversation.

What price longevity? Beyond the back-in-the-office-Monday-morning-tea-break chat, how many will be extolling the virtues of your 30 second brand parade?

The ads are far too pleased with themselves. Notably, Volkswagen referencing its own TV ad of last year. This, in my book is like laughing at your own jokes – usually sign of some tragic character flaw.

What can we learn in the UK?

I doubt there will ever be a true Super Bowl moment in the UK (apart from perhaps the Olympics).

The X-Factor or Champions League are the closest we will get but they do have far more niche audiences. This at least allows us to better target the message.

This kind of big bang media is great but we need to find ways of harnessing it and creating something that lasts a long time. We need to do more than the now certain “Like us on Facebook” call to action at the end.

The ideas need to have social at their heart – not just a broadcast message with a full stop at the end. They need some conversational rocket fuel, or at the very least, a good opener.

Gareth James is TMW’s executive creative director.

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