Episode 501: Our Ad is for Non-Chumps

On the Overthinking It Podcast, we talk Altered Carb… just kidding! It’s our annual look at the Super Bowl commercials and halftime show.

Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, and Matthew Wrather discuss Super Bowl LII’s commercials and halftime show in the context of the fractured marketplace for attention, the relationship between disadvantage and apotheosis, the development of a semiotically sophisticated commercial audience who needs to be flattered, and what it means to do a medley.

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2 Comments on “Episode 501: Our Ad is for Non-Chumps”

  1. TeamEponine #

    Knowing the tradition of Super Bowl ad podcasts for other years, I made sure I was ready. I watched the game and halftime show, then after I watched the ads from the internet as I’m not in America. I even almost watched Altered Carbon.
    As my experience was game first, then ads out of context later my thought of the ad narrative was different, although not mutually exclusive to Pete’s.
    My first experience of the Super Bowl culture was Justin Timberlake and the words, “Haters gon’ say it’s fake. So Real.” So from the start I was thinking that this is going to be a political message. A message about mistrust of the big corporations and government. As Justin meandered through the stadium singing his medley I realised that he was looking for something (I mean he couldn’t even commit to a song for more than a minute) and of course the answer to his disillusionment was the people. The people in the stands were what’s important even though they were on their phone at the time and didn’t really look too impressed by it all.

    Even in the game by the simple act of knocking a football out of a man’s hand, the power balance changed. From the powerful to the underdog.

    So with that as my first thoughts most of the rest of the ads fit into the mould. The companies wanted you to believe that they weren’t great big companies but one of us, one of the ordinary people. Buy beer and you can get water to those who need it. Buy a car and you can cure cancer. We companies aren’t one of those titans that you now dislike, we just provide products that you – because you are awesome – can make better. We provide chips so that you can make new flavours yourself – WOW! We provide Groupons so you can kick rich people in the balls.
    Amazon isn’t the world’s biggest company it’s a little machine that says hilarious things. The M & M branding even turns into a person. It needs to be a person. (That ad falls into the very small category of bad things happen if you are our product, usually populated by M & M ads)
    There are probably lots more ads that agree and disagree with this, and I only saw it on a curated list, but that’s my takeaway.

    I suppose what I am saying is, in a way, isn’t everyone a Tide ad?

    Oh and I was waiting all podcast for someone to say something about it being Super Bowl Lee.


  2. cat #

    I didn’t watch the Superbowl. Instead, I went to see a musical version of Cruel Intentions. It was also very meta and had a minor critique of masculinity, though that wasn’t really its project. The Sara Michelle Gellar character was really the star of the production.

    Anyway, this is what I thought of when you talked about medleys that work…

    And ones that don’t… (but in the best way)


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