Sincerely Super: Taking A National Holiday From '90s Attitude
In a pop culture that's geared to cut everything down to size, the Super Bowl thrives as a larger-than-life event. People who'd sooner spit than watch football the rest of the year are happy to sit through a game whose outcome is often clear by the end of the first quarter. What makes it a unique phenomenon? In today's landscape of irony and attitude, it's a tower of unalloyed sincerity. From players to coaches to die-hard fans, people do care desperately about who wins. The cheers and the locker-room pep talks have no irony to them, and that's refreshing these days. Super Sunday is the annual Square Woodstock, commanding attention even among those who aren't squares. For many Americans, it's the one day they see people wearing crew cuts not as a goof but as a matter of unselfconscious habit. The fact that it's so overblown--starting with the word "Super" and all those Roman numerals--underscores the point that those involved in the game take it 100 percent seriously. The futile attempts to graft hipness onto the halftime show simply demonstrate the event's invincible unhipness. Only the commercials seem in dissonance with the tone of the day. For its advertisers, the Super Bowl is often a contest to see who can crack the funniest joke. This has added to the evening's entertainment value, but one wonders whether it makes best use of the telecast's singular context. Instead of playing it for laughs, maybe more advertisers should treat the game as a rare chance to make an emotional connection with viewers.
Block That Putt! Pigskin Predilections
Lest the NBA's labor troubles suggest pro athletes are just in it for the bucks, note this finding from a poll of NFL players conducted by Sport: Asked whether they'd still play football if the average salary were just $75,000, 81 percent said yes. On the other hand, 26 percent said the money is the best thing about being an NFL pro, versus 2 percent rating women as the premier benefit. Another question indicated the relative prestige of major sports: "If you could be a pro athlete in any other league, which would it be?" A majority (57 percent) chose the NBA, while 26 percent picked big-league baseball and 9 percent doffed their golf caps to the PGA. As for grander ambitions, the chart reveals that a typical NFL player would rather be a hero from another planet than a hero from another species.
Those 3 Words: The Love That Dare (Often) Speak Its Name
With Valentine's Day approaching, it is time to expose an injustice. Men are always accused of being unable to tell the women in their lives, "I love you." This charge is false, as we learn from a Seventeen survey of guys age 16-23. It turns out that 44 percent of respondents have taken the trouble to say "I love you" to a girl when it wasn't even true! What more could one ask of them? Queried on whether they've "ever actually said 'I love you' to a girl" (truthfully or otherwise), 79 percent said "yes." Thus, at least 35 percent of the lads have said "I love you" when that avowal had the virtue of being true. Rah! Elsewhere in the poll, 53 percent said they've fallen in love at first sight. What about that sight might have worked the magic? Asked which sort of female attire most turns them on (worn by a girl, that is), 34 percent cited "a pretty dress," 31 percent said "worn and faded jeans" and 26 percent picked "an extra-tight sweater." Asked to single out "the sexiest thing about the girl you're crushed out on right now," 36 percent said it's "her smile," 26 percent spoke up for "her body" and 20 percent opted for "her intelligence."
MIXED BLESSINGS: Forgotten Passwords, Creatives' Modesty, Devilish Doings, Etc.
Sometimes, computers make the most of human intelligence. Other times, they expose the gaps in it. In an online poll by CNN Interactive, people were asked how often they forget their computer passwords. While one-third "never" do so, they are outnumbered by those for whom such lapses are a monthly or even a weekly occurrence (11 percent and 19 percent, respectively). And keep in mind that the pool of respondents could not include anyone who'd forgotten how to log on while the poll was posted.
Honors for Best Gratuitous Reference to Taxidermy go this week to an ad for CityBeat, an alternative weekly newspaper in Cincinnati. Is the aphoristic headline a bit opaque for your tastes? The ad (via the modestly named local shop Bob, the Agency) arms itself against any such criticism by including the motto, "Not Everyone Gets It." One comes away fully persuaded by the claim that CityBeat offers an "alternative perspective."
If consumers think product ads are often in questionable taste, they should see how agency creative people address their peers in the materials for industry award shows. Soliciting entries for the Piedmont Triad Advertising Federation's Addy competition in North Carolina, the multi-urinal ad (under the headline, "see how you measure up") is typical in its self-consciously wild-and-crazy tone. (The Burris Agency of High Point created the ad.) Why has such over-the-top imagery become a convention of the genre? Detractors of the ad biz will say that agency people are venting their natural immaturity, which is normally kept in check by the adult supervision their paying clients provide. Another theory presents itself, though: The bad-boy outrageousness reflects creatives' embarrassment at the degree to which they indulge their self-congratulatory impulses. In other words, ads like the one shown here might reflect latent modesty, not rampant immodesty. After all, in few professions do people allot so much of their energies to giving each other awards for doing the jobs they're paid to do. Under the circumstances, ribald self-mockery (with or without urinals) could be the best coping device for those who can't stop obsessing about golds, lions, pencils and the like.
Will this be the next phenomenon to bedevil TV viewers? Just in the past few weeks, two spots have come our way in which deviled eggs, of all things, play a conspicuous role. A commercial for MovieFone (by Mad Dogs & Englishmen, New York) harkens back to a fictitious time when deviled eggs were the snack of choice at America's movie theaters. Faux-vintage video shows moviegoers with cartons full of them. But times change, a voiceover tells us, and people moved on to popcorn--just as they'll move on to MovieFone for all their movie-info needs. The other spot (from BVK/McDonald, Milwaukee) promotes the Milwaukee Admirals, a minor-league hockey team. "Yeah, you could say I spend a little time in the penalty box," confesses one of the team's more unruly players. As he steps into the sin bin, we see he's furnished it with all the comforts of home. His easy chair is there, his TV set is there, his dog is there. And the snack that awaits him? A plateful of deviled eggs, of course. If this does turn into a trend, it will be a challenge to the nation's food stylists and a boon to the nation's egg industry.