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Burton on the Bay
by Bill Burton

At Super Bowl, Commercials Are the Name of the Game

Everybody I talk to, when they watch the Super Bowl, they want to see edgy ads. They're not looking for Ozzie and Harriet.
-Bob Parsons, chief executive officer of GoDaddy.com, as quoted in The Sun on Sunday, Feb. 6

Here's edgy for you. One of Bob Parson's GoDaddy.com commercials originally in the can for the Super Bowl went over the edge and didn't make the game. Too "edgy," according to news reports.

The second of Go.Daddy.com's two Super Bowl commercials made one play only to get yanked quicker than a center who hands the ball to a lineman on the other team for a touchdown. On second thought, it was considered by the network too "edgy."

Too bad, methinks, that a dozen or so other commercials didn't make the starting lineup this past Sunday. That would have made it easier to follow the main purpose of Super Bowl XXXIX: to determine the world champions of pro football. As it was, so many commercials hogged the tube that, had the game itself not been so well fought, viewers could have lost track of the score, maybe even the names of the teams on the field.

At $2.4 million a crack for 30 seconds of air time, commercials cluttered the game more densely than the office where I sit to write. But in this year's finale, the only super thing about the Super Bowl was play of the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles, which you might say was played out between commercials.

Over the Edge
I find it difficult to harbor any pity for Fox television network, that lost more than a couple of mil when it yanked the scheduled fourth quarter replay of the GoDaddy.com commercial that squeaked through in the first quarter. When the network went to the bench, it substituted an in-house promo for the cartoon, The Simpsons.

Nor is there any sympathy from this corner for Bob Parsons and his GoDaddy.com, who not only lost his scheduled viewership during the two-minute warning slot in a game still up for grabs but also part of his investment in a commercial in an arena where production costs don't come cheap. He also lost the production tariff for the other commercial that, like the Ravens of Baltimore, didn't even make the game.

It stands to reason. Play on the edge, and there are times when you fall off the edge. Both Fox and GoDaddy.com took the tumble. Somehow it all seems appropriate.

This championship gridiron showdown has pretty much turned into a showcase for sponsors and their advertising agencies to determine who can come up with the commercial that can come the closest to the edge without falling off.

Yet all is not lost for those who fumbled. The ads that didn't make it - as well as those that did - go on the web to be punched up hundreds of thousands of times. It's so edgy there that you can get a glimpse of Mickey Rooney's bare buttocks in a would-be Super Bowl commercial. Brittany Spears or Madonna, that's well over the edge. An 84-year-old rear end? That's over and into the crevice.

Nothing against the Mick, who rightfully collected his wages though the cold remedy commercial was banished to the sidelines. But is the Super Bowl supposed to be a big game played for sports fans and their families, including kids, or what? The only fannies appropriate on the screen during the big game are those of suited centers ready to snap the ball to a teammate.

The Last Time I Met Mickey
Presumably Mickey can use the money, seeing his number of ex-wives could comprise a hockey team. The last time I saw him in the flesh (though fully clothed) he also showed a weakness for a different kind of nag, the ones that run around ovals in front of a grandstand.

It was at a Delaware track. I was there as part of a syndicate of Evening Sun news hounds who owned a thoroughbred named Running Story. The movie star was there to wager.

When we chatted between races, he conceded broncos not of the Denver type were as costly as alimony. But ponies and wives were worth every penny of it, he said. So, while Airborne Health failed to make the cut, next time I feel a cold coming on, I'll head for CVS to buy one of its remedies to ensure future gigs for a guy five years older than me.

Cats, Cars and Commercials
Really, with all the fuss and hoopla, I failed to note (or appreciate) much in the way of commercials specifically designed to sell products. They were more for exposure of sponsors' images, some entertaining, most not. Had womanizer Ben Franklin been around to watch his hometown Eagles on the tube, he probably would have enjoyed them. Not so for staid family man John Adams, who much as he prided New England superiority, undoubtedly would have trashed his TV after the first and only GoDaddy.com exposure.

This writer found quite entertaining the Ameriquest commercial featuring a man - with a white cat and knife in his hand - caught by his soulmate and owner of the feline after a calamity in the kitchen. No, he wasn't about to do the cat in; it's just the way things ended up once the galley began to fall apart. But for the life of me I couldn't determine the selling point of the ad, which incidentally has roused the ire of many among the animal rights sorority.

You might say that cat, which resembled my resident pet 2-E, typified what all Super Bowl commercials would be like if it weren't for the watchdogs that fight to keep prime time television reasonably clean. The kitty was naked.

The new lines of automobiles looked interesting, but the commercials weren't. A bit more on the vehicles themselves might have piqued my interest sufficiently to head for a showroom, but Ford, General Motors and Volvo missed the pass.

I find it hard to understand the knocks directed at the most moving Super Bowl commercial, Anheuser-Busch's spot featuring soldiers fully dressed in desert gear marching through an airport to a standing ovation from civilians. As one ad agency big-wig said, "it was long overdue."

I've fallen victim to what the Super Bowl shouldn't be all about: the commercials and halftime show, But it was refreshing to take in 62-year-old Paul McCartney singing a few songs I could understand. Sure beats a stage filled with screeching be-boppers - though I'm sure some others on this end of the tube would have preferred another wardrobe malfunction.

Oh, Yes. The Game
Oh, yes. The Patriots not only won the game 24-21, they and the Eagles managed to make it so breathtaking that the biggest show was on the field - where a missed pass is a play dysfunction, not one of the erectile nature as shown in the Cialis commercial. Enough said.

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