As promised last week, I am not writing any more about the Super Bowl, nor am I writing about Danica Patrick and her less than salubrious introduction to the Good Ole Boy, baccy chewing style of NASCAR racing at Daytona, where she was unceremoniously shunted off the track half way through the race. No, we have much more important stuff to consider here. Because it’s Olympic time, yet again! Well, the winter version of possibly the most commercialized sporting event on the face of the planet.
Not only do Olympic sponsors pay the equivalent of the gross national product of a small African nation for the privilege of being named the official nose hair grooming supplier to the Bosnia-Herzegovina curling team, they then proceed to bombard the airwaves with excruciatingly bad and annoying TV spots proclaiming this amazing fact.
You can perhaps make a case for companies such as Nike, and others that have some kind of association with sports, health, nutrition, or even beer, ‘cos at least with that you can get ripped while watching a pre-pubescent win a skating medal while covered in feathers. And if you think that’s bad, you should see some of the guys.
But the ones that really leave me slack jawed are the mega-companies that see these occasions as the perfect vehicle for their grandiose, and always self aggrandizing, corporate mission statements via hugely expensive branding campaigns that bear no relation to the programming they are embedded in. The current perfect example would be General Electric, who are scheduled to blow somewhere in the region of $80 million on a campaign that will supposedly put a human face on its role in health care. A non-stop bombardment of TV spots throughout the games will show doctors performing checkups in different eras. It opens with a Bronze Age setting where the people are cloaked in fur capes, then goes to ancient China, the Middle Ages in Europe, Depression-era America, and finally a modern hospital where the doctor is using a handheld G.E. imaging device to examine a boy’s abdomen. Oh yes indeed… Thanks to the miracle of GE technology the Shaman was able to insert the bone at the correct angle through your Stone Age nose.
What seems to have been lost in the magic of all this feel good bullshit is the fact that what GE is in the business of making and selling are things like MRI scanners at $10 million a pop. Those are the things Doctors love to shove you through, ‘cos then they can bill the insurance company a few grand for the probably unnecessary procedure … And if you don’t happen to have insurance, they’ll take your house… And if you don’t have a house, they’ll take your left testicle.
Sorry, getting a bit carried away here, but the point is… Why pretend that the reason for spending $80 million against an audience primarily consisting of pizza eating, beer swilling, sports fans has anything to do with building consumer brand awareness, when it’s all about affecting a few hundred douchenozzles in congress as they attempt to kill health care reform for a couple more generations. Why not just go the usual route and bribe the buggers? It would be less painful for the viewing audience, although it would bite BBDO severely in the arse.
George Parker is a guest columnist for psfk.com. He is the perpetrator of adscam.typepad.com, which is without doubt, one of the most foul and annoying, piss & vinegar ad blogs on the planet. He is the author of MadScam and his new book, The Ubiquitous Persuaders, which is currently setting the ether ablaze (and which you can order now on Amazon). He will continue to relentlessly promote the crap out of it until you are forced to stab yourself in the eyes with knitting needles.