I can't begin to tell you how thrilling this is for me. I love football. I love watching the two best teams in the country knock each other down for four grueling quarters, or, assuming those teams suffered fluke playoff losses, then I'm sort of OK with watching Baltimore play San Francisco instead. But what I'm most excited about are the commercial breaks. After all, the Super Bowl didn't become the most-watched television event of the year because people really like the game. No, the heartbeat of America isn't football; it's consumerism.
The game even starts with money.
And like Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Busch, Lexus, and Geico, I intend to make a little money this Sunday. I never bet on the game itself, but I will absolutely make prop bets on commercials, since the odds are always in my favor. See, I don't have DIRECT TiVo or On Demand, which means that throughout the rest of the year, I consume shows the old-fashioned way. While you were off enjoying recorded episodes of The Walking Dead or burning through five seasons of Breaking Bad all at once, I was sitting through T-Mobile and Tampax commercials, finding patterns, growing stronger. Now that everyone is forced to watch live network television again for one day out of the year, all the knowledge I've accrued is finally relevant. I have immediate home field advantage in every side bet because I know exactly what to expect from the Super Bowl ads long before they air, and now I want to pass that knowledge along to you. So go forth and take your friends' money.
At some point, snack food companies realized that their core demographic was a group of young adult men who love being reminded that they're fragile idiots. Since then, almost every single one of their commercials has revolved around that premise. Point in case, every Doritos Super Bowl commercial for the past five years.
It may seem like a strange advertising tactic to relentlessly insult the only people who buy your product, but keep in mind that this is the same target audience willing to purchase shame-inspired "Late Night" Doritos in the flavors of tacos and cheeseburgers. Anyone who's willing to spend an all-nighter with dyed orange fingertips and meat-flavored MSG dust in his neck beard isn't exactly prioritizing self-esteem. Instead, these men are compelled to cram their faces full of more corn chips every time they see themselves outwitted and overpowered onscreen by lap dogs and babies. It is a relationship I will never understand.
The reason I'm giving 5:1 odds on this one is because in Doritos' tireless effort to emasculate their audience, they sometimes switch it up and let an old person do the job. In fact, one of the finalists this year for the Crash the Super Bowl ad campaign features a double dose of humiliation by showing a young man losing a battle over a bag of chips to a senior citizen who is also blind:
Take a minute to really soak up the implications of that commercial. That man is trying to steal an unpurchased bag of Doritos from a handicapped person while standing in the middle of a grocery store. That's a level of stupidity so profound that I'm shocked Doritos is still allowed to get away with it, but not so shocked that I'd put less than $10 on it happening at least twice in the first half of the game.
Car and truck companies have always been ahead of the curve when it comes to capitalizing on nostalgia. For an entire decade, their strategy was to force every human brain to associate at least one classic rock song with every type of vehicle. But around the Super Bowl, they switch up their game plan slightly and aim for old TV and movie stars instead. This Sunday, you will see at least one old celebrity that you assumed was bowing out of the public eye to finish his life in graceful silence tied to a winch of some modest-looking four-door and dragged back into relevance by a car company. Usually this means they have the awkward job of reminding us all who exactly we're looking at, and the solution seems to be shoehorning in a 30-year-old catchphrase that now fills the celebrity's mouth with more sadness and shame than a gun barrel.
Regardless of why these fading stars opt to do the commercials (although the answer is almost certainly huge piles of money), I'm pretty confident that a Tim Allen, or a James Spader, or a Balki from Perfect Strangers will make an appearance in a mid-size-sedan ad this year. And if it is Balki, you could probably double up your bet he'll squeeze in at least one "Don't be ridicolus" before wrapping his mouth around the exhaust pipe and breathing as deeply as possible.
Oh, speaking of barely consensual celebrity endorsements ...
For all the world-famous musical artists out there who read my column each week, let me throw a little truth at you: If you're thinking of doing a Pepsi commercial, know that no matter how much they're offering or how extraordinary their vision, Pepsi will never, ever know how to make you look cool. It's not for want of trying, either. They just suck at it, and somehow in the 30 years that they've been working with musicians, they've only gotten worse. To see their spectacular decline, compare these early ads with Michael Jackson ...
To the current humiliating exploitations of famous names:
Granted, it's hard for any musician hunting for credibility to look sincere while singing about how everyone should really try this bone-brittling sugar water, but for God's sake, Pepsi, stop asking girls who have spent their entire lives choosing singing over sports to throw things.
Assuming that this trend continues, you can look forward to watching at least one Pepsi commercial during this Super Bowl through your hands, but you can rest assured that those hands will be filled with money.
When the audience is largely male, a surefire way to keep them engaged is to fill the screen with precariously covered mammary glands. Advertisers want to remind you of all the things you like about women -- big breasts, big butts, big vaginas, and so forth -- but in doing so, they sometimes forget that they still have a product to sell. Go Daddy is the biggest culprit, running commercials during every Super Bowl since 2007 that might as well be for lady parts, because they never get around to explaining what they actually sell.
And Go Daddy certainly isn't the only corporation that's mounted the sex wagon. The mentality seems to be that if you don't have something interesting for sale during the Super Bowl, pretend you sell sopping-wet women instead.
I know it's no surprise that sex sells, but these ads are so far removed from the original point of the commercial that distant generations will think we were just really open about sex trafficking. Or maybe it will be even worse in the future and every commercial will just be a close-up shot of a company logo expertly shaved into pubic hair.
While I can't be absolutely sure that the other entries on this list will show up during the game, I hereby promise that you will see at least one woman hawking stationery or software or something equally innocuous while wearing a bathing suit, and if for some reason that never happens, then I encourage you to write to Adam Tod Brown for a full refund.