Well everyone, it looks like it’s that time of the year again! That time when men and women across the nation gather together in bars and living rooms to share in the great American pastime of…watching commercials? Of course, there’s that pro football game, too. But diehard fans know that the game breaks are where the real action is at. Corporations, it appears, also agree with this sentiment. Why else would they dole out around $4 million dollars for 30 seconds worth of ad time between plays? Given the Super Bowl’s chart-topping viewer ratings and its exorbitant costs for ad time, advertisers are willing to do all it takes to make their commercials leave a lasting impression. Yet, doing so is easier said than done. What kind of tactics have corporations used in the past?
Researchers argue that marketers are well aware of the male-centric bias of professional sports viewership and tend to focus products and ads that they think will appeal to them:
- Lawrence A. Wenner and Steven Jackson. 2009. “Sport, Beer, and Gender in Promotional Culture: On the Dynamics of a Holy Trinity.” In Sport, Beer, and Gender in Promotional Culture and Contemporary Social Life, 1–34. New York: Peter Lang.
As times and demographics change, however, so do the ads. For instance, Super Bowl ads in the early-to-mid 2000s relied on the trope of men as “happy losers” as a way of attracting a wider audience:
- Michael A. Messner and Jeffrey Montez de Oca. 2005. “The Male Consumer as Loser: Beer and Liquor Ads in Mega Sports Media Events.” Signs 30(3): 1879–1909.
In more recent years, though, researchers have noticed a backlash of sorts to the “happy loser” motif, with an increase in Super Bowl ads touting a supposed “crisis of masculinity”:
- Kyle Green and Madison Van Oort. 2013. ““We Wear No Pants”: Selling the Crisis of Masculinity in the 2010 Super Bowl Commercials.” Signs 38(3): 695-719.
Which theme will prevail this year? Watch and find out!