Super Bowl 2013, Sandy Hook and What We Learned Sunday Night


There were some good ads in there: I liked the NFL's Leon Sandcastle spot, Hyundai's Team, Oreo's Whisper Fight and Tide's Miracle Stain. And among the others there were spots that were serviceable even if not Super Bowl worthy like Dwayne Johnson's Milk Spot and Best Buy's spot with Amy Poehler.

But, back to the Garbology analogy.

The ad that best proves the theory that one can get a good picture of where we are right now as a country by careful examination of the Super Bowl commercials is: Mercedes. The big idea for a company that sells automobiles whose price tag (for an s-class) can eclipse $210,000 and whose brand is built on being the ultimate in engineering and luxury is to introduce a $29,000 car. That stretch feels to me similar to Volkswagen borrowing Jimmy Cliff and the Jamaican culture or Budweiser fashioning a man's lifelong relationship with a horse he raised to drinking an alcoholic beverage. You see the point, we are reaching. The Great Recession, gun violence, changing weather patterns, contentious politics have scared us. The soft economy has us off our game. We need a win, we are desperate to win. So we are all over the place, maybe even grabbing at straws a bit.

I was explaining the nuances of the game to my wife as we watched. Before the whistle blew, I correctly identified illegal procedure, off-sides and unnecessary roughness. In the fourth quarter I also correctly identified holding as Michael Crabtree ran into the end zone. I then had to try and explain to her while the rules didn't necessary apply on that call because the game was on the line and the referees under those circumstances can choose not to follow the letter of the law. As I was talking, I realized that I was describing not just the game but the events surrounding the game, the advertising and more.

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Larry D. Woodard is CEO of Graham Stanley Advertising and the co-author of the book, "Advertising as a Branding Tool."

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