x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Super Bowl viewers brace themselves for an evening of exciting and expensive commercials, with slots costing a cool $4m.

Anheuser-Busch’s Super Bowl commercial, “Puppy Love”. AP Photo
Anheuser-Busch’s Super Bowl commercial, “Puppy Love”. AP Photo

Tonight’s Super Bowl is nominally the climax of the American Football season, when the Seattle Seahawks will square off against the Denver Broncos for the Vince Lombardi trophy.

Many of those watching, however, will be less interested in the game itself, or even in Bruno Mars’s half time performance, than in the commercials.

The Super Bowl is renowned for having the world’s most expensive advertising slots, with a 30-second commercial costing up to US$4 million. The pressure is obviously on advertisers to get the most bang for their buck and create something that lingers in the mind long after the game is over, such as Ridley Scott’s memorable commercial for the Apple Macintosh in 1984.

Yet such is the status of Super Bowl commercials that the actual slot during the game itself is surely decreasing in importance. The spread of social media means that a well-crafted commercial, such as Reebok’s Terry Tate: Office Linebacker spot of 2003, will live on even when the game is history.

This year, several commercials actually have their own advertising campaigns, enabling viewers to watch a teaser, or the commercial itself, before the game is aired. Toyota’s new Super Bowl commercial, starring the Muppets and Terry Crews, has already attracted more than 4 million views online before the game.

SodaStream’s commercial, starring Scarlett Johansson, has perhaps garnered the most global publicity thus far, given the controversy of her simultaneous role as a goodwill ambassador for Oxfam and her role as a spokeswoman for an Israeli company with a factory in a West Bank settlement.

Johansson has subsequently come in for criticism for choosing SodaStream over Oxfam. But if all publicity is good publicity, the executives at SodaStream must be over the moon.