It's the Monday after Super Bowl 50 and the Broncos are still basking in the afterglow of their win over the Panthers. I'm personally not a huge fan of (American) football. Sports in general were never something I was terribly interested in. But the last decade or so, the Super Bowl has been more and more about the commercials than just a sporting event.
A whole new flock of fans that watch the game just for the ads has morphed the platform of sports entertainment during the biggest game in the U.S. A 30 second commercial costs several million dollars as it has a guarantee of millions of eyes watching it. Even the half-time show pales in comparison to many ads that last less than a minute. When the prices got high, companies could only afford one time slot. This year, there were fewer varieties of brands and many doubled up with more than one ad. And from the roster that could pay-to-play during the game, they were overall underwhelming for me. That's not to say there wasn't some funny or poignant ones, there was just less than previous years.
Who doesn't love Doritos that has had them before? A set of parents getting an ultrasound near the end of a pregnancy is a done-before premise, but they had a twist. The father, who, of course, is sloven-looking and eating from a large bag. The wife/mother states her annoyance. The fetus responds to the chips the father is holding and dad fakes-out the fetus before mom gets more annoyed and throws the chip. Then the fetus shots out of her to pursue the chip. Simple, yet effective. What I wasn't a fan of was the colors of the room. Pale, slightly green, pretty gross, even for a hospital setting.
A flock of dachshunds wearing hot-dog costumes run towards a line of people in different Heinz product costumes. Simple, straightforward, bright, and upbeat. I have a dachshund and she does have two hot-dog costumes. It's part of the agreement to owning the breed, read the contract. So I might be bias on this one. But who doesn't love a flock of dogs running and leaping/jumping/being tossed by a crew assistant into the open arms of people?
A strongly caffeinated coffee ad played during a game that is 99.99% about cheap American beer? Sold! Vikings row in a dark storm, proclaiming death is a great thing, before being literally swallowed by a bearded man. Plus the epic background music is by Two Steps from Hell. If you haven't heard of them, you need to add them to your work-out music playlist. Running on a treadmill never felt so epic. Just so many things I'm down with rolled into one.
Animals were a big theme this year. Here's an ad with a marmot hanging out with some guy in the woods, hiking, eating s'mores, and watching the sunset on a cliffside. The guy goes in for a kiss and gets smacked by the marmot, stating he (she?) isn't that kind of marmot. He was shut-down by a clothing wearing rodent. Ouch. I've never heard of this brand before. When I buy outdoor gear, I hit thrift stores first as brand name outdoor clothing is astronomically expensive. But this ad was cute and I might check out their items online. Maybe they're less expensive. Either way, I remember their name.
What the absolute hell? I've had this drink before, and it isn't bad. It's also not something I would willingly buy in bulk either. But the combination of "three awesome things" failed here. Their hybrid was an abomination to nature and was more the stuff of nightmares than a promotional mascot. Memorable, yes. But at what cost?
For me, these were the only ads that stood out while I was watching/pretending to watch the football game. In a house filled with people, these were the only few that everyone got quiet for so we could all hear them. Super Bowl time is meant to push people to their limits, to see just how far they can go. Players and advertisers alike. This year was underwhelming for both the game and the ads. Only a few ads are worth revisiting, but the rest were as beige and bland as a four door family sedan. When you must spend several million dollars for a single ad spot during the game, we, as consumers, expect to be wowed by what you spent all that money on.
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Everyone has seen it, even if they didn't know it. Pick up any magazine with a cosmetic ad and it's there. Staring at you. Holding up an invisible measuring stick and judging you (even though it really isn't). Perfect and flawless models posing with products, telling you to buy them. Celebrities walking the red carpet for some big event with bodies that look like they never leave the gym (and never ever eat). I'm of course talking about Photoshop. The tool that launched a million eating disorders. OK, the program isn't solely to blame for eating disorders, but it has played a heavy hand in presenting unrealistic body images. It has also changed the game of advertising.
Back before the era of computers, photo shoots relied on a slew of people to capture that one perfect image. Lights and scenery were set up just so, makeup artists and hair stylists made the models look near flawless. Some editing was done after the photo was selected, but advertisers relied on the creative team to get near what they wanted in the physical world. Now, Photoshop has become the (mandatory) final step in the production process. Was the lighting too light or dark? Adjust it in Photoshop. Did the model have a few stray hairs after four hours of shooting? Fix it in Photoshop. Could you see blemishes and bumps on the model's cheek that don't bode well with selling makeup?
Airbrush it in Photoshop. Is the model too fat, short, small breasted, or anything other than perfectly proportional? Stretch and bend them like clay in Photoshop till you get the desired shape and size.
While Photoshop has many other uses, it has become an entity on its own that set the standard how models in ads should look. The heavy reliance on the program to fix production flubs and flaws makes creatives lazy. Another behemoth of the digital age is Computer Generated Imagery, or CGI. The ever present use of CGI in movies and t.v. shows eliminated practical and "real" special effects. Puppets were replaced with CGI. Prosthetic makeup and costumes were replaced with CGI characters. Vast landscapes and fantastical interiors are now green-screens with CGI placed over them. Producers have full control over creating a world that will never exist in real life. But we have come to expect that of our entertainment mediums. We know it's all fake to begin with. But what will Photoshop eliminate?
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