More than just football: how consumerism and marketing subsume the Super Bowl

How often does one hear “I only watch the Super Bowl for the commercials?”. It has become painstakingly obvious that Super Bowl Sunday is not only the biggest day in American sports, but also the biggest day in marketing.

Materialism has plagued American society since the beginning of the 1950’s. With every decade, we take another step deeper and deeper into the pit of consumerism. We have built mega mall complexes to satisfy our need for material possession, spend more than Spain and Italy do annually on advertising, and worse of all, we reveal in it. Super Bowl Sunday has become a monument to our addiction.

This Sunday, when companies will battle for the funniest and most entertaining commercial of the night, know that the ad you are watching cost the cooperation an unbelieveable 4 million dollars. To put that in perspective, an average American who works for 35 years will make just under $2 million dollars in his or her lifetime, enough to buy a mere 15 seconds of airtime.

With hundreds of catastrophic dilemmas facing mankind today, it is amazing to think that we still contemplate spending fortunes to convince ourselves that we should buy Doritos over any other brand of chips because the commercial was just too funny to resist.

The entire continent of Africa struggles to provide 12 million US dollars it needs to fight its malaria crisis while here in America, however, we can enjoy a blackmailing dog with a bag of Doritos in his mouth, a child dressed as Darth Vader attempting to turn on a Volkswagen, and Eminem cruising around Detroit in his “Imported for Detroit” Chrysler for the same price tag.

While it would be wrong to deny that this is an ideal time to advertise — after all, last year’s Volkswagen Commercial featuring the child dressed as Darth Vader has over 56 million views on YouTube alone — it would be even more outlandish to claim that spending such a fortune on a 30 second ad is logical when solutions to global issues cost a fraction of what corporations spend this time of year.

While no change to our materialism will come to our way any time soon, it is becoming too hard to deny first world countries’ problems with materialism, especially here in America. It would take a big change in what we perceive a happy life to be to change our ways. Americans are not yet ready to turn away from material goods.

The latest study on American advertising showed that corporations spent a total of $149 billion in 2008. In comparison, the United States spends $43 billion on attempting to solve our energy crisis. Every day we hear of how we need to find an alternative fuel source, but we are never told that corporations spend more in comparison.

Our love for consumerism shows no sign of slowing, since we fail to recognize it as an issue. Along with all of the consumerism comes mass amounts of resource usage and pollution, irresponsible use of money, and an addiction to excess, which bring us no closer to curbing these artificial needs.

While no realistic solution comes to mind when addressing our materialism, the least I can do is ask of the viewing audience to spare some thought towards whether or not all that money is worth it, to whether or not you really need to impulsively buy something because the commercial made you laugh, and to whether or not there is a more responsible and logical use to both your money, and the the money of the corporations.