Dogs giving out Doritos. Trucks surviving apocalypses. Dogs serving beer. Clint Eastwood selling cars. Dogs in running shoes. Sex-selling domain names. Dogs selling Volkswagens. What do all these have in common? If you answered 2012 Super Bowl commercials, you’re correct. But there is something else. Each TV spot cost the company running the advertisement an average of 3.5 million dollars.
Three million, five hundred thousand dollars. That is roughly the cost of 87 years as a full-time student at Springfield College. Three and a half millions dollars could pay for about 14 Lamborghinis. Or seventy thousand packets of Ramen. Or 700 thousand movies on a Tuesday night. Any way you look at it, 3 million dollars is far more money than most of us will see at one time in our lifetime. 3 million dollars for 30 seconds of television space. And the goal of all of this money being spent? An effort to get the Super Bowl audience to spend money on a product. This is American culture at its finest.
The money spent on six ,30 second TV spots would equal the gross national product of the world’s poorest country, Tuvalu. How many commercials were shown in the three and a half hour game? A 100? However many there were, the money spent was staggering. Only in America would coupling this kind of money with sports be completely normal. There are people starving on the streets of our country, but we have companies shelling out millions of dollars for a 30 second TV advertisement.
I enjoy the Super Bowl as much as the next person, especially when the Patriots are playing in it. The hype of the big game and the audience it draws obviously makes it incredibly attractive to advertisers. A Super Bowl commercial will reach upwards of 100 and ten million viewers. It makes excellent business sense to run an ad if you can afford it. But something about spending that kind of money on a TV advertisement sickens me.
There are upwards of 46 million people living below the poverty line in the United States. But this statistic is misleading. For a four-person family, the poverty line is about 22 thousand dollars. Trying to provide food, housing, clothing, education and healthcare for four people on 22 thousand dollars is no easy task. The number of people struggling to make ends meet is much higher than the poverty line suggests. National unemployment is 8.5 percent. But these statistics do not take into account the number of underemployed workers or people who have simply given up hope of finding a job and are no longer looking. The country is struggling to overcome the worst recessions in its history. The average American is still feeling the effects of that recession. And maybe it is a good sign that there are companies that are doing well enough to afford these kinds of ads. But to me it just feels like too much.
Three and a half million dollars. Millions are starving around the world. But 3 million dollars to sell the latest car to the hot-wing eating masses of America? Why not? Sunday night was more than a football game. It was also a sad commentary on the priorities of this country.
Josh Ernst may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org