Monday, February 2, 2009

Super Bowl as Sign of the Times

All right. What just happened? Did we actually just have another game that beat out all the fringe entertainment?

Those actually are not the big question that has been floating around in my head. After hours of programmed entertainment and millions upon millions of spending, I'm left wondering whether I just saw one of those large cultural shifts firsthand. Cultural anthropologists will look back on history with the advantage of knowing the outcome. Like the chance to look back once the game has been completed, it's easy to say that the Cardinals should have just knelt on the ball to end the first half. It's a bit tougher to make those decisions in the thick of it.

So what's the point?

Point is, The Boss rocked, we had some laughs, the game was good and it still makes no difference. What did any brand get for its $3M investment? A little light chatter during the nightly news and what's sure to be analysis come morning drivetime. Otherwise, was there any effort that will actually push the sales needle?

In fact, aside from just showing how companies can be 'just one of the guys' for a couple hours on one Sunday during the year, there was nothing that really showed any strength.

Why should that matter? Isn't the Super Bowl just about extravagance and entertainment? Not in this day and age. While the MSM will lap up the manufactured story for a couple days and push the messages further, it will largely be forgotten in a week. We're at a time where customers are in need of solutions more than ever before. Monkeys, horses and dogs may offer a brief respite, but no substance leaves the long term effects empty.

My one exception. The NFL ran a promotion early in the game (maybe before kickoff) promoting the chance to call a play in the next Pro Bowl. While not really my dream, the effort to partner with was highly effective. Why? The NFL now has another channel to promote its business. It's not a channel dedicated to entertainment. It's a channel dedicated to a solution. With layoffs being announced every day, job searching has become a priority for many. The ability to combine your job search with some interaction of meaning with the NFL not only serves as a brief bit of entertainment and hope but also connotes something more. Exactly what 'something more' is, remains to be seen. It will change with each individual.

In the aftermath of the biggest television event of the year, how many participants can say that they gave their customers 'something more'? I'd wager the NFL with the quality of the game. Outside that, did you get anything other than a couple laughs?

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