Media

Super Bowl "Ad Leakage" Reaches Joe Paterno-like[*] Levels, Renders Big Game Even Less Fun

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Reason contributor and Miami Herald TV critic Glenn Garvin weighs in on what used to be the best part of any Super Bowl (before the Giants beating the Patriots became a regular thing at least):

The Teleflora ad promising that your girlfriend will turn into a hypersexual supermodel if you just send her some flowers? Seen it. The college kid who thinks he's just gotten a Chevy convertible for graduation but really it's a mini-fridge? The Toyota Camry ad featuring a couch made of lingerie models, a poopless baby and a crime-fighting plant? The polar bears fumbling a Coke bottle like a pack of furry Dolphins wide receivers? Seen 'em all.

The ad leakage to the Internet was so profound that the website SuperBowlAdsForGeeks.com actually ran a list of ads that weren't released on-line before airing. (The site's name is no exaggeration; it also posted a list of frequently asked questions that started off: Q. What is the Super Bowl? A. A professional football championship game.)

As Garvin notes, it was hard not to see many, maybe most of these ads pre-game:

More than half of the 70-odd ads that aired during Sunday night's Super Bowl telecast had been circulating on the Internet for days or even weeks. At $3.5 million a pop for a 30-second commericial, advertisers want to leverage every eyeball they can—and they've discovered the way to do that is to preview the ads on-line.

Honda's CR-V ad with Matthew Broderick reviving his Ferris Bueller's Day Off character, goofing off from work instead of school? It had already been seen more than 10 million times before game time. No hyperbole — literally, 10 million mouse-clicks on American computers.

More here.

What's interesting about this to me is that for all the talk of the internet segmenting and isolating people, the fact is that it's created whole new audiences and extended the news cycle not just for news but for all sorts of cultural discussions and products. The Soft Launch has replaced the Grand Opening; thanks largely to the computer industry and the web, we expect things to be tested in real-time and go through various versions and iterations on the way to becoming truly useful. That's a good thing, rather than pegging so much of our time and hopes to the equivalent of a Hail Mary pass (sorry, Pats' fans). 

A pet peeve regarding Broderick being used in a car ad: Do Americans really have that short a cultural memory that Matthew Broderick can now pitch autos? In 1987, he killed two people while driving (and not drinking[**]) in Ireland, and was let off with a $175 fine, leading to the memorable New York Post headline "Ferris Bueller Gets Off." He has reportedly made peace with the past and his victims' families, which is all to the good. But it's just kind of weird to see him hawking Hondas.

[*] Joe Pa headline allusion explained.

[**] Corrected dropped word.

In case you're not among the 13 million people who have watched the long version of the Honda ad: