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Kicking Back With Jersey Joe: The Super Bowl of Commercials and Why We Love to Watch Them!

Sunday evening, more than half of the TV sets in the US will be tuned in to Super Bowl XLV.  The game itself is quite a spectacle, but the commercials now have an audience all their own and advertisers have found a clever way to get their message across – even before the game begins!

The Super Bowl has become one of the biggest events of the year in American homes and is one of the most watched sporting events in the world.  The amount of food and alcohol consumed during the game is enough to end anyone’s New Year diet.  The first was played on January 15, 1967.  The game was created as part of a merger between the NFL and the then rival league, the American Football League.  Sadly, NBC has lost the original kinescope footage from their broadcast of that game.

The action on the field and the fun at all the Super Bowl parties are a big part of the day.  But this program is one of those rare circumstances where viewers actually look forward to seeing the commercials.

Last year, I hosted a small Super Bowl party and we were all glued to the set during the breaks.  We were part of the record 106.5 million viewers.  We all laughed together as Betty White rolled around in the mud for a Snickers bar, or the new version of the Super Bowl shuffle, and how about the dog putting the shock collar on his owner to get at his bag of Doritos?

The advertisers know they have a captive audience during the game and usually blow a large amount of their advertising budgets to create the most eye-catching commercial.  If they create the right amount of magic, they will get far more publicity than that one airing during the game.  The biggest spots get played over and over on various news and entertainment shows, along with being posted on fans Facebook pages!

You’ll notice that most of the spots that grab attention are usually very funny or over the top.  Most people won’t be talking about the spot that was b-roll of the mountains, but put grandma running naked with a talking Chihuahua, then getting tackled on the 40 yard line and we’ll all remember it was for insurance.  The advertisers know the audience!

I totally feel that TV programs today are overloaded with advertising.  The 30 minute sit-com now normally runs around 19 minutes, where in the past it would last well around 24.  The opening credits of shows are now also removed to allow for more ad time.  When was the last time you remember seeing a big opening credit sequence?   DVR’s make it easy to fast forward through the commercials and normally, I just briefly flip the channel or surf the web during the breaks, but with the Super Bowl – now, it’s a different story!

In TV’s early days, commercials were originally read live by an announcer or a host on camera and lasted about a minute.  Sponsors would purchase all of the ad time for an entire series and even have their logo plastered on the set.  As time rolled on, the commercials became shorter and the advertiser budgets got larger and the commercials got flashier.

But now, we are moving toward the newest way advertisers are capitalizing on their big Super Bowl spots… and that is by giving a free preview of what you will see before the game.

The weekend before, many of the advertisers release small samples of their ads to the local news, morning, and entertainment shows.  Some companies will play only a few seconds worth, while others will allow an entire commercial to be aired.  The hosts of these shows will then comment on the ad.  I definitely noticed this practice catching on last season.  Not just on the local morning news, or Good Morning America, but also on the entertainment shows like Extra and Entertainment Tonight.  All of these shows are essentially giving away free advertising.  The company paid big bucks for the spot in the game, but by turning the preview into an entertainment or news story, each show has at least shown the product and company name airtime for free.

This year, we can look forward to another array of great ads.  An animated Coke bottle will settle a skirmish in the desert, Adrian Brody will croon to ladies for Stella Artois, the Budweiser Clydesdales will be back, Justin Bieber and Ozzy Osborne will appear in an ad together for Best Buy, and the annoying Kim Kardashian will be selling shoes.

One commercial you won’t see is this Doritos ad, featuring a zombie who really wants to get her crunch on.  The spot was rejected by FOX, the network airing this year’s game, but Doritos is getting plenty of publicity, because it was banned.

Sadly, Betty White will not be doing another commercial this year, either.  She admitted to that a few weeks ago on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Her ad last year was my favorite.

According to Reuters, a 30 second commercial for this year’s game will cost about $3 million.

So, if there are any ads that you can’t wait until the game to see, just check out today’s entertainment shows.  If after the game, there’s an ad you want to see again, has set up an entire page for replaying any of the spots.  You can also checkout for a replay of the commercials from the past and present.  Go ahead – they’re sucking you in for FREE!

This year’s game has already received lots of hype and the predictions are that more viewers will watch this game than last year’s to break another record.

So, which commercials will be your favorite?  Let’s all enjoy the game, go Steelers, and as they say in the movies – enjoy the show!

THE 411

What: Commercials airing during Super Bowl XLV on FOX.

When: Sunday, February 6, 2011

Cost: $0 for you to watch – about $3 million for a 30 second commercial for advertisers.

JERSEY JOE RECOMMENDS: Definitely keep the sound up during the breaks. You will see some of the best commercials of the year.  If you’re in the bar, do your best and try to pay attention.  It will make for great water cooler talk around the office on Monday morning!