Super Dough

The beauty of the Super Bowl is its broad entertainment value.  There’s something for everybody in the five hours between The Star Spangled Banner and the Vince Lombardi trophy. For sports fans, there’s a highly-anticipated football clash. The Super Bowl is not football at its best or most dramatic, but this year’s coast vs. coast, old coach+QB vs. young coach+QB match-up creates more than the usual intrigue.

If you’re not into football, you’re at least enjoying the musical entertainment.  Maroon 5 will be there after all (rumor had it they were pulling out), and the band acknowledges “… it’s the biggest stage you could ever play…”  Even if you’re not a fan of the 5, you get Gladys Knight (but no Pips) singing the national anthem before kick-off.

If neither live sports nor live music is your bag (and that’s a small rock you live under), you’re watching the commercials instead.  I admit – especially as a sports fan – there’s as much press for the Super Bowl ads as there is for the Super Bowl itself.  It’s the only sports broadcast I know where viewers fast-forward through the game to get to the commercials.

Courtesy of Anheuser-Busch InBev

No wonder advertisers are so worked up for this Sunday.  The Super Bowl is routinely the single-most tuned-in-to entertainment of the year.  Viewership has quadrupled over the last fifty years.  The 2018 Super Bowl drew over 100 million viewers; 25% more than second-place.  And what came in second?  The Super Bowl post-game show, of course (74 million viewers).  Say what you will about the NFL; people watch.  The four most-watched television shows in 2018 were NFL games, followed by a “This Is Us” episode… airing immediately after the Super Bowl.

Courtesy of Frito-Lay

Sunday’s line-up of Super Bowl commercials includes the usual products: cars, drinks (alcoholic), more drinks (non-alcoholic), foods (snack), more foods (fast), even more foods (avocados), and technology.  Of course, they’re all designed to get you to remember, long after the game is over.  Whether it’s a celebrity, a laugh, or a cute animal, it’s all about permanent placement of the product in your brain.  But even if you don’t remember, consider this: the commercials will be watched millions more times on YouTube.  Add in the Internet and the considerable cost of Super Bowl advertising is a little easier to swallow.

Speaking of cost, this year’s commercials will set producers back $5 million a spot, for a mere thirty seconds of air time.  That’s just the bill to CBS.  Production costs run as much as another $5 million.  Try counting “one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand” every time you watch a commercial this year.  You’re squandering $333,333 for every “-one-thousand” you utter.  That’s what I call super dough, and it’s only rising (ha).  The car companies account for 25% of the take (remember that the next time you negotiate the purchase of a vehicle), but Anheuser-Busch InBev is the “King of Advertising”, spending over $600 million on Super Bowl commercials since 1995.  Yes, Clydesdale horses are cute.  More importantly, they sell a lot of beer.

Courtesy of Anheuser-Busch InBev

To pique your ad anticipation, Town & Country Magazine’s website includes a list of the “50 Best Super Bowl Commercials” (including the videos).  The ads are listed chronologically, starting a-way, way back in 1967.  It’s entertaining to see what products and companies paid big for Super Bowl advertising fifty years ago.  Some are no longer around.  I’m guessing their advertising agencies aren’t either.

Courtesy of Apple

Mark my words.  Monday morning after the Super Bowl the water-cooler talk will not be about the game.  It will be about the commercials.  Which one was your favorite?  Which one left you scratching your head?  Which one was $5 million up in flames?  And most importantly, which one will still be talked about years from now?  Even this sports fan has to admit: the game will soon be forgotten, but not the ads.

Some content sourced from the Wall Street Journal article, “Why Advertisers Pay Up for  a Super Bowl Spot”; and from Wikipedia, “the free encyclopedia”.

The Final Word

This time of year, we assemble our latest collection of “best-of’s” and “…of-the-year’s”.  On Monday, America crowned its national champion in college football (Alabama). In a few weeks we’ll get the NFL’s equivalent in the Super Bowl. Last month several magazines recognized 2017 of-the-year’s in photography and current events. Soon we’ll also have best-of’s in music (Grammy) and film (Oscar). In this spirit, did you know there’s an of-the-year for words?

To be clear, “word-of-the-year” doesn’t refer to the annual expansion of the Merriam-Webster (.com) Dictionary or the Oxford Dictionaries Online. With the former, over 250 words were added last fall; with the latter, over a thousand.  Instead, word-of-the-year is a single choice, representing “lasting potential as a word of cultural significance”.  That’s how the people at Oxford see it, and thus this year’s honoree is “youthquake”.  Huh?  Maybe if you’re in Britain you’re not shaking your head like me.  “Youthquake” means “a significant cultural, political, or social change arising from the actions or influence of young people.”  “Youthquake” has been around since 1965, but back then it was only a reference to the fashion and music industries.  Today, it could (and is) being used in reference to the myriad demonstrations of change commanded by the millennial generation.

With the Academy Awards – should you not agree with, “and the winner is…” – at least you might have a favorite in the list of nominees.  But the short list for 2017’s word-of-the-year is the following bunch of odd ducks: white fragility, unicorn, kompromat, broflake, newsjacking, gorpeore, milkshare duck, and antifa.  Okay, maybe “antifa” would’ve been a good choice, but I count at least four others I’m seeing for the first time.  More to the point, what happened to better choices like “hipster” or “pregame” or “alt-right”?  Did none of those even make it into the dictionary expansion?  They’re certainly more word-of-mouth than “youthquake”.

Perhaps “youthquake” will make it across the pond in the next year or two and enter America’s daily conversations.  But the word is not off to a good start, considering several in Britain – including the CEO of a youth leadership organization – claim they’ve never heard of it.  Maybe Oxford just has an affection for the word, so they throw it out there as an “of-the-year”.  But that’s kind of like being labeled “America’s Best City To Live In”.  The mere advertisement draws a bunch of tourists and other undesirables and next thing you know you’re no longer “best”.  By the time we Americans get right with “youthquake”, Oxford and Britain will have moved on to 2018’s word-of-the-year.

Merriam-Webster’s Peter Sokolowski claims their word-of-the-year (apparently the honor is shared) “…gives us insight into the collective curiosity of the public”. M-W took a more scientific approach to it’s recipient, looking at how often certain words were looked up online, and their context with respect to current events.  M-W’s 2017 word-of-the-year?  Feminism.  Look-ups of “feminism” increased 70% over 2016, and spikes in that activity were tied to comments made by politicians in Washington D.C., “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Wonder Woman”, and the sexual harassment revelations of the past several months.  M-W gives “feminism” two definitions, but I prefer the second: “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.”

Two years ago, Oxford made a particularly clever word-of-the-year choice in “pictograph”.  Rather than show the word, Oxford showed an emoji.  If my spell-check is any indication, it takes at least two years to embrace the current word-of-the-year recipient.  “Emoji” did not underline.  “Youthquake” most definitely did.

 

Winning the Big One

U.S. News & World Report just ranked Denver and Colorado Springs high on its list of “best places to live” in America.  Apparently the job market, cost of living, and quality of life in the Rocky Mountains leaves little to be desired.  To add to the accolades, the Broncos just won the Super Bowl.

sequestered

Before you say “Honey – pack up the kids!  We’re moving to Colorado!”, you must pause if you’re a sports fan.  Sure, that Lombardi Trophy is shiny and new and will feed Denver’s ego for the rest of the year.  But it sure is lacking for company.  If the State of Colorado had a trophy case for professional sports, the Lombardi would almost find itself in solitary confinement.  Sequestered.  You might even feel bad for it.

Denver wasn’t even supposed to win this Super Bowl.  Fans from North Carolina (and frankly, anywhere outside of Colorado) never gave us a chance.  But we’re used to it out here.  Denver and Colorado are perpetual underdogs when it comes to sports championships.

The Super Bowl win got me curious, so I spent a few hours researching Colorado’s professional sports franchises (Wikipedia is my new best friend).  I desperately wanted to use the phrase “a list of championships a mile high“.  Far from it.  To be honest I had to dig deep to find any noteworthy performances.

To spin it positive, Colorado might earn your envy for being one of only thirteen states where the four major professional sports are represented.  whoop-dee-doo.  The last time the Broncos won the Super Bowl was last century.  The one and only time the Avalanche (hockey) won the Stanley Cup was 2001.  The last time the Rockies (baseball) won the World Series was never.  But at least the Rockies made it to the World Series .  The Nuggets (basketball) started play in 1967 and fifty years later we’re still waiting for a spot in the Finals, let alone an NBA Championship.

To add a miserable exclamation point to Colorado’s track record, the Nuggets will once again miss the playoffs this year (it’s a tradition), the Avalanche are battling a half-dozen teams for the very last playoff slot in the Western Conference, and the Rockies… well, the Rockies haven’t even begun the new season yet they’re projected to finish in last place in the National League.  Go COLORADO!

My Wikipedia search – ever more desperate – moved on to college championships.  Colorado’s six D1 schools have accounted for a grand total of one football championship in their entire un-storied histories (Univ. of Colorado, 1990).  None of these schools have come anywhere close to tasting college basketball or baseball glory.  But then, mercifully, we have hockey.  On the college ice the Centennial State shines.  Denver University and Colorado College have combined for nine hockey championships; the most recent in 2005.  I need to become a better fan of the puck.

If you’re reading from California, Massachusetts, Texas, or Florida, you feel none of my pain.  Each of you can account for five, ten, even twenty professional or college sports championships in the last fifteen years alone.  But if you’re reading from Georgia or Washington D.C., you’re pitching the proverbial championship shutout.  You have my sympathies.

On the heels (hooves?) of the Broncos’ Super Bowl victory, Peyton Manning hung up his cleats for good – a justified decision.  But Peyton’s backup just signed with the Houston Texans.  In fact, several marquee Broncos have already left the state for other (better?) teams and higher salaries.  Sigh.  Back up the truck boys; the Lombardi Trophy is heading to another state soon.  Let Colorado’s next sports championship drought commence.

So go ahead sports fans – move to Colorado.  But I suggest you follow soccer.  The Colorado Rapids have only been kicking for twenty years and they’ve already made the finals twice and won the whole thing once.  Go RAPIDS!