I have a confession to make. I know absolutely nothing about American football. That being said, one of my friends invited me to his Superbowl party and I decided to go anyway. I thought I would try to learn a little more about the game. Maybe see if I could get into it and like it. Short summary, I still don’t know what football is about and I don’t like it more or less than before.
My friend Chris did make some really delicious ribs though and I plan to steal his recipe if I can. I think for me these sorts of events are more about the food than the entertainment. I ate way too much food. But it was a pretty fun day.
I graduated college as a marketing major and so the commercials have always been really interesting to me. This year I felt like the commercials had a very different tone than the years before. There were way fewer boobs and lewd jokes (though I wouldn’t say there were none) and the feel of the commercials was more somber and family-oriented than I expected. Today everyone has been talking about Nationwide’s commercial about the the boy who died. Some people thought it was in bad taste and others thought it was a good message that could potentially save lives this year. As for me I felt like it was something in between. During a festive occasion like the Superbowl it just seemed really out of place. The message can be seen as fear-mongering or emotional blackmail on the part of a company which sells insurance. It might have been the commercial they thought we needed but it really wasn’t the commercial we wanted. It really brings up the issue of corporate responsibility. Where do companies draw the line between making a profit and doing social good? Nationwide has claimed that they ran this commercial as an awareness campaign and not as a traditional advertisement, and I can see how this is a valid claim. This advertisement will not directly drive sales on insurance. No parent is going to run out after seeing this commercial and buy extra life insurance on their child- that’s just not how that works. Additionally the company could receive and did receive some negative backlash in public opinion from this commercial. But they also received greater public awareness for their brand. Some people say that bad publicity is still publicity. But does Nationwide really want to be associated with dead children? How do marketers even quantify the emotional effect on potential and current customers after an ad like this? It will be interesting to see how public opinion on this year’s commercials develops over the next few days.