TEXT OF COMMENTARY
KAI RYSSDAL: News Corp announced last week it’s already sold 95 percent of the ad space for the Super Bowl broadcast. The game’s not even going to happen for another two and a half months. But Fox says it’s getting as much as $2.7 million for a 30-second spot. As we get ready to settle back and enjoy some classic football on Thanksgiving Day, commentator Will Leitch says that when it comes to the commercials, you might just want to look away.
WILL LEITCH: It’s no secret that the real dollars in sports are made when the game goes to commercial. In fact, the action on the field is simply the filler between hucksters shilling unhealthy “sports drinks.” If you want to know what advertisers, and their clients, really think of you, the sports fan, all you need to do is watch any set of commercials during any NFL game.
Here’s a good example: While his girlfriend gives herself a pregnancy test, a guy discovers that he can determine the coldness of his Coors Light by checking out if the mountains on the bottle have turned blue. He becomes ecstatic and totally indifferent to the positive result of his girlfriend’s pregnancy test. A friend of mine once dated an actress who constantly went on commercial auditions for these kinds of ads. She called these roles “me or the beer” parts. “I always lost,” she said. “And usually, at the end of the commercial, I’d be bonked on the head with something, or I’d fall down some stairs.”
A stray glance at almost any commercial during a sporting event reveals just what cretins these companies and networks consider their consumers to be — screaming lunatics, usually shirtless, with their face painted and yelling whooping noises. Is this any way to treat a consumer? Is this what they really think of us? Imagine if a financial services company portrayed all its investors in its ads as cocaine-addled, sociopathic, Patrick Bateman Masters of the Universe?
Look, the problem is not inherently the sexism or the notion that beer might, you know, taste good. The problem is that these companies don’t trust their target audience enough to judge products on their own merits, let alone not to be drooling morons. Contrary to popular opinion, your average fan is not driven solely by the primal needs of sports, beer and sex. Or, for that matter, whether or not his beer is sufficiently cold.
So, enjoy the football this Thanksgiving, and if you know what’s good for you, TiVo past the ads.
RYSSDAL: Will Leitch is the editor of the sports website Deadspin. His upcoming book is called “God Save the Fan.”
There’s a lot happening in the world. Through it all, Marketplace is here for you.
You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible.
Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.