Super Bowl Ads, You've Jumped The Shark And I'm Over You. Let's Call This Whole Thing Off!

4 years ago

Okay, Super Bowl Ads. We had a good run of it. But you've jumped the shark and I'm over it, you hear me? You used to excite me, I admit it, but those days are over now. Now I dread the very sight of you and all that you've become. It's sad, Super Bowl Ads, just sad, and it's time to say goodbye. I might even watch the game this year.

via embedded video

It's not me, it's you, Super Bowl Ads. Here are some of your problems.

1. You are out-of-date. Sure, you were great in the 80s and 90s, and I really looked forward to you. The massive cost of the Super Bowl Sunday ad spots meant that the best creatives were put on the job, and the result was some delightful ads, especially in comparison to the everyday ads of the times. The Budweiser Frogs of '93 -- those were our salad days. The ads were fun to experience with friends at parties, and the post-buzz was good for everyone. And in the meta-loving 2000s, that continued, plus we had social media to adding a virtual water cooler to help us celebrate the best of the best. That was fun at first.

But now, dude, look around. I can hook up with different amazing short-form video content EVERY DAY. Just today, I happily watched two Dutch men experience some of the pain of birth, and a Kid President spoke directly to my heart. I can plug into compelling content that is just my brand of funny/intriguing/exciting/sexy/engaging -- not some generic expression of humor or glam meant to compel the lowest common denominator to buy. The true love I've found thanks to social media, social search and online content makes what we once had on Super Bowl Sunday seem like a 3rd grade romance on field trip day. 

2. You've become desperate. You are raging at what the times have done to you, and instead of moving on, Super Bowl Ads, you've become kind of pathetic. All this pre-event publicity in an attempt to get traction just makes you peak prematurely. There's no surprise, no big bang on Sunday, and nothing to talk about later. Worse, I'm so over the gimmicks, the fake "banned Super Bowl Ad" play, the provocative "is this racist" (VW, Coke) and "is this sexist" (Mercedes) questions you are obviously provoking just to get almighty buzz. This pandering to a cynical version of what creates social media conversation as an attempt to save you from irrelevance is advertising's version of a Donald Trump comb-over, and I just can't look you in the eye anymore.

And then there's all of the "upload a photo/send a Tweet/vote on Facebook" integrations, like Lincoln hiring master Tweeter Jimmy Fallon, who then "leaked" the video--which obviously he leaked just as the ad executive carefully planned, down to the minute. Some of these concepts might be fun on their own, because the people and tools of the Internet are fun and creative--but we don't need you as a construct to make that happen, Super Bowl Ads. At best you water it down, at worst, we don't need you. This is where you are the shark, jumping and jumping, and we are the happy skiers, sailing forward.

3. You're just boring. Super Bowl Ads, it's like this: Why would I get excited about your upcoming ad by watching a "behind-the-scenes" video of Psy featuring him drinking water? Really, why would that entice me? When I can open another browser window and Gangham Style my little meta heart out at the drop of a fedora or a man in an elevator? I probably won't queue up Gangham Style, because that's so 2012. But I will watch what I want to watch and then go get a snack of my choice at some point. Cashews, maybe? Probably lime chipotle cheese popcorn. Because outside of our stultifying, old-fashioned, predictable relationship I have free will, baby. 

So, yeah, let's just move on, okay? Might I suggest a week of listening to Adele, and then pull up your Don Draper pants and reinvent yourself. Maybe we can hook up again after you've had time to reflect with your creative directors. Are those millions really well spent with on Super Bowl ads if they require complicated pre-event plans just to barely remain interesting? Instead of trying to get television ads to fit the Internet, can't you just get with the program and let go of the television part? I know your advertising partners are in the middle of a midlife crisis of their own, but I truly believe the best is yet to come in all of your digital reinventions.

Oh, I'm not kidding myself, I know this is not goodbye. I know even if you don't reinvent yourself this afternoon you'll hang on for a few more years. Habits are hard to break. You should see the people of Twitter every Saturday night, bemoaning that SNL sucks since Belushi/Ferrell/Fey left, but hate-watching it anyway. America is weird like that. But cringe-habits don't sell cars and soft drinks, Super Bowl Ad, so it's just a matter of time. We had a good ride, but I think we should figure out how to dial it back now before it gets any more awkward.

Are you a super bowl ad watcher? Have they jumped the shark for you yet?

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