February 7, 2011
Wednesday afternoon, February 2nd. I was flying to Dallas, scheduled to lead a session for The Master’s Program on Thursday (ultimately, scrubbed because our Country Club venue had a “weather malfunction” and could not open). My high-mileage gets me free upgrades, so I was sitting in seat #5B, up in the expense-account front cabin.
As we were in final approach to DFW, the two guys started talking (it takes men a while to become conversational). One of them revealed that he was headed to the Super Bowl, clutching the ticket (15 yard line, second level) he bought for $5,000 (it had an original $700 “face value”). The other guy mentioned a friend who had just attended the Pro Bowl, in Hawaii. “Yeah, but that was the Pro Bowl. It has no real value; it doesn’t mean anything…”
The Deep Meaning wasn’t in Honolulu last Sunday; it was in Dallas, yesterday. The ruse was a football game between the Pittsburg Steelers (can’t you just hear the, “We’re #2!” chant today?) and the Green Bay Packers. It was quite a game, and it held the attention of zillions until the last fall-on-the-ball play from scrimmage.
Interesting, though, that the outcome of the game doesn’t close the file. There are two tracks that run out of Cowboys Stadium that haven’t even come close to the Two Minute Warning.
Track #1 is the post-game buzz concerning the 40+ television ads that interrupted the game (or, in the minds of many, it was the other way around!). The challenge of creating a memorable impact in 30 seconds is the Super Bowl of advertising, and the competition was fierce.
If you’re into instant replays, you’ll visit one of the websites created to offer the ads – by quarter – for later playback ( superbowlads.fanhouse.com/2011 ). The office pools that will pass lunch money between cubicles today – based on the jumbo scoreboard finale – will be replaced by the clamor over who won the ad match-up.
At my house, it was a tie between VW’s Darth Vader (Q 2), and Bridgestone’s Beaver (Q 4), with CareerBuilder.com’s Chimps (Q 2) in third position. But the spot that didn’t make the finals would have taken the day, hands-down, if allowed.
The reject was produced by a group called Fixed Point, in Birmingham, Alabama. It featured a mirror reflection of most American family rooms on Sunday afternoon, with rowdy men and mugs of beer, acting the part of men whose neighborhood cheers might be heard in a stadium 1000s of miles distant. In the midst of the game, a message seen on national sports programming stirs a sports fan to use his iPhone to access a website for an answer: lookup316.com (click to watch the half-minute spot).
Fixed Point founder Larry Tounton started his effort months ago – while spots were still for sale – to pay the $3 million/30 seconds for his ad to add to Super Bowl’s momentum. While Fox Sports was selling, they weren’t buying Tounton’s request, deeming the piece “too religious,” and against their policy against controversy (did they watch the spoof on Tibet’s political hardships from Groupon?).
They could stifle the ad sales, but there was no silencing men like Greg Jennings – two touchdown passes – and Aaron Rodgers – MVP – after their personal efforts contributed to the crowning of the World Champion Green Bay Packers. Track #2 is the Players’ Platforms, in the coming days.
Jennings, in the first on-field player comment aired by Fox: “I just want to give glory to God.” Rodgers’ clear testimony, coming into the game: “We all have a platform, we all have a message in our lives. I just try to follow Jesus’ example, leading by example.”
The game, the ads, the players’ comments; it’s America, on full volume. When the confetti settles and the ice melts… what message will still be powerful enough to save lost people?