Next weekend is the biggest advertising event of the year: the Super Bowl. The entire nation will gather around their televisions, split roughly between people watching for the game and people watching for the commercials.
But now you don't even have to watch the big game to know what the commercials will be. Companies are putting out commercials early or, even worse, teasers for ads that are longer than the ads themselves. They're also sending out kits to journalists that hint at their commercials.
That's where I have a problem.
In the past, part of the fun of watching the Super Bowl for non-football fans, other than gorging on chicken wings, was checking out the brand new commercials that were making their premiere. The surprise was part of the fun. As a non-football fan myself, I looked forward to the ad breaks so I didn't have to pretend like I cared what Wes Welker did, or what a Wes Welker is.
All that's changed now that ads have gone from incredibly expensive to small-country-GDP insane.
Corporations, and especially automakers, need to make their multi-million dollar investment worthwhile. That means they've taken to making ads for their ads so we'll tune in for their ads. These ads are designed to prep us for the real ads and are two or three times longer than the commercial they're prepping us for.
Sometimes they release the ad ahead of time on YouTube. And in order to watch that ad on YouTube, you'll probably have to watch another ad before that ad. Selling ads for ads. It's a crazy world we live in.
Last year, Honda tried to convince everyone that an all-new Ferris Bueller movie was going to be released. If only that were the case. The buzz was all for the brand new CRV. It was dishonest, although the build up to the commercial was actually far better than the commercial itself, which I found super boring.
Volkswagen just released a 1:30 teaser for an ad that wil probably be no longer than one-minute in length. It features nearly every person on YouTube that was caught on camera in the middle of a mental breakdown. VW used Star Wars focused ads the last couple of years, both of which were major hits although readers of this site new they were coming.
Mercedes' teaser for their ad involves model Kate Upton and a soapy car. It's also the only time I think anyone has ever said that a car wash featuring a Sports Illustrated cover model was a disappointment.
Just yesterday we received a box from Kia to promote their Super Bowl ad. Inside it had a copy of "The Wheels on the Bus," freeze dried ice cream, and a card that announces the birth of a commercial. I assume it's an ad for one of their new cars. Apparently it will feature "space babies."
All of this pre-Super Bowl hype ruins the Super Bowl ads for me. It was exciting to watch a commercial break and not know what was up next. Now the surprise is gone. You know exactly what will be in each commercial break.
Nearly every ad that had a teaser last year ended up being a disappointment, largely because I knew what to expect. In fact, there was only one ad that we didn't know much about, and it was Chrysler's "Half Time in America" with Clint Eastwood. Guess what? It gave me goosebumps and was not only the best car ad of the game, but arguably the best ad of the year.
It's not like I'm blaming the car companies and other advertisers for trying to get the most of their Super Bowl ads. As far as crimes go, this is pretty minor. Much like how "Black Friday" starts at midnight on Thanksgiving, "Super Bowl Sunday" has become a multi-week affair and it's all because of money.
And we tend to be complicit with automakers' Super Bowl ad teasers because they can be clever and and they bring awareness to their cars and to cars in general. I'd argue it's even more important than the Detroit Auto Show, which is why we write so much about it. If we post the teaser there's a chance people will come back to this site to see the ad when it's up.
The good news is non-football fans no longer have to watch the Super Bowl. The bad news is that the age of enjoying Super Bowl commercials is nearly over.