This year, I paid much more attention to the Super Bowl than I generally do -- which is to say that I actually watched part of the game. (Normally I just totally ignore it, but my son is a little bit intrigued by football, which I enjoyed playing as a kid, so in the interest of a rounded education we watched some together before his bedtime.) I enjoyed the Steelers' "gadget" play, and thought Seattle got robbed by a bad call at the goal line (watching ABC's replays, it seemed to me to clearly not be a touchdown), and that's pretty much the sum total of my football analysis.
So, onto more peripheral matters. Michael Berube explains, in advance, why Pittsburgh won:
[N]o Super Bowl champion has ever worn jerseys and pants of the same color. Yes, the Seahawks have ditched the Pacific green-and-blue motif that has doomed West Coast franchises for decades (Oakland Seals to the green-and-blue courtesy phone!), replacing it with a much meaner, metallic bluish-grey color scheme. But football players whose jerseys and pants are the same color inevitably look like they’re playing in their pajamas.
And that's that.
A lot of people apparently pay as much attention to the commercials on the Super Bowl as they do to the game itself, to the extent that people go to great lengths to measure which commercial is the most effective. Zogby, for instance:
After some Monday-morning quarterbacking, Super Bowl XL viewers have decided that Budweiser’s “Young Clydesdale” ad wins Sunday’s other big game – the battle for the top commercial spot.
At around $2.5 million per 30 seconds, Sunday’s ads occupied the most expensive advertising real estate ever. And Zogby International finds Budweiser’s ad a clear first-place finisher, the favorite of 15% of viewers. FedEx’s hapless caveman, meanwhile, placed second at 10%, while Bud Light’s “Secret Fridge” commercial rounds out the top 3 at 8%.
In the battle for age demographics, meanwhile, “Secret Fridge” strengthened its position, with 13% of viewers under 30 rating it the top pitch, but tanking among those age 30 and older. The “Young Clydesdale” spot, which climbed to 18% among the under-30 demographic, finished weakly among 30 to 49 year-olds. FedEx’s fossil film, meanwhile, skewed older in its impact, taking 13% of 50 to 64 year-olds, second to “Young Clydesdale,” which took 21% of this demographic.
“Young Clydesdale” was a top pick for a key reason with viewers: 79% of those who chose it said they did so because the spot made them “feel good.” Humor and special effects were more likely to be chosen as rationales for fans of the other two top ads.
Some ads may have missed the mark in the ad agency championship, however. CareerBuilder.com’s ad depicting workplace chimps celebrating the “growth” of sales at their company scored progressively worse as income level rose, besting the income categories below $25,000, but rapidly receding among others. The “Young Clydesdale” spot, meanwhile, scored the equivalent of a touchdown and two-point conversion in the income category, heavily winning among those whose household incomes hovers between $35,000 and $50,000 per year. It also performed well with fans of another sport – among self-professed NASCAR fans, it was the favorite by a massive five-to-one margin over the next closest competitor.
Zogby seems to still be interested in this subject, because questions about Super Bowl commercials were a part of an interactive poll I was notified of just today. Of course, I really couldn't answer with any detailed knowledge, because I'm as annoyed by commercials as I am disinterested in football, so my immediate impulse was to mute the sound when the ads came on, only remembering later that I was supposed to be paying attention to them.
Of the ones I saw, the FedEx commercial bugged me because of the caveman/dinosaur thing (we really don't need to reinforce anti-science ideas, even in humor, and especially for commercial purposes); the car commercials were all anti-climactic, because whatever special effects or humor they contained, it always ended up with that most pedestrian of consumer items, a damned car; and as a long-time Star Trek fan I enjoyed the Leonard Nimoy Aleve spot, although not enough to wind back and watch it again.
Other people are paying attention to the Super Bowl ads in a more rigorous way, like Marco Iacoboni and his group at the UCLA Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center. They used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure brain responses in a group of subjects while they watched the commercials. The results are being posted to The Edge website.
Who won the Super Bowl ads competition? If a good indicator of a successful ad is activity in brain areas concerned with reward and empathy, two winners seem to be the 'I am going to Disney' ad and the Bud 'office' ad. In contrast, two big floppers seem to be the Bud 'secret fridge' ad and the Aleve ad. What is quite surprising, is the strong disconnect that can be seen between what people say and what their brain activity seem to suggest. In some cases, people singled out ads that elicited very little brain responses in emotional, reward-related, and empathy-related areas.
Among the ads that seem relatively successful, I want to single out the Michelob ad. Above is a picture showing the brain activation associated with the ad. What is interesting is the strong response — indicated by the arrow — in 'mirror neuron' areas, premotor areas active when you make an action and when you see somebody else making the same action. The activity in these areas may represent some form of empathic response. Or, given that these areas are also premotor areas for mouth movements, it may represent the simulated action of drinking a beer elicited in viewers by the ad. Whatever it is, it seems a good brain response to the ad.
While fascinating, and labelled as an "Insta-Science" experiment, what this actually amounts to is the cutting edge of market research. Who needs focus groups or bloodless polling when we can just wire up people and evaluate their actual physical responses?
And speaking of polling, in that Zogby Interactive poll I took today there were a couple of questions which seemed as much philosphical inquiry as marketing poll:
An authentic but controversial life is better than a celebrated, but compromised one
I view my life more like a canvas to be painted than a blueprint under construction
You shouldn't trade off the pleasures of life today for a tomorrow that may not come
Faith may get you through tough times, but ambition and talent determines success
Update: Discussion of the creationist-friendly FedEx commercial is here and here. I agree that entertainment value can sometimes trump objectionable content in a commercial, and I was prepared to like it, but they really never delivered (!) It just wasn't all that funny.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.