What was the takeaway from last weekend's Super Bowl experience? It's time to get back to the basics.
This past Sunday night, our home was one of the 46 percent of television households that watched the game. All four of us were pulling for the Green Bay Packers. This is the result of a combination of family alliance (we have family from Wisconsin) and the Packers' recent defeat of our hometown favorite, the Atlanta Falcons. If the Packers won the Super Bowl, then Atlanta's loss to them would be a bit more palatable.
At any time during the game, an average of 111 million people watched the game on the FOX network, according to the Nielsen Co. This is a Super Bowl record. We all know that the Super Bowl is about more than football -- it's also about the commercials and the entertainment.
As Christina Aguilera's began the game by singing the National Anthem, my 11-year-old daughter Maggie and I were so mesmerized with her over singing, turning the syllables and notes into combinations never before heard, and her uncombed hairstyle that we did not even notice that she had flubbed the lines. When you can barely understand the words as they are trilled, it's hard to determine if they are sung incorrectly.
We did notice the thunderous applause when the Marines from Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, were shown on the big screen. The message: It's about the people serving our country, not the performers' great performance.
My family's favorite commercial was "Volkswagen: The Force." The combination of the Star Wars music and the little boy dressed up as Darth Vader trying to use "the force" was a winner among all four of us. He tries using the force on the stationary bike, the dog, the dryer and a baby doll, and then to move his sandwich toward him on the kitchen island. None of it works. In the last case, his mother slides it over to him. When his dad arrives home, briefcase in hand, the son runs out to the car, brushing off his father's attempted hug.
The son then focuses his force on his dad's car, which, to the boy's astonishment, starts. The camera cuts away to the kitchen, where his dad -- who has started the car remotely -- smiles at his wife.
This commercial was evocative of a childhood filled with imagination, pretending and a solid family life. The background of the family home, with a sister's room where he tries to levitate her baby doll, the kitchen and the dad driving home from work, reminds us of the firm family foundations that have provided stability to generations of Americans.
The most-liked commercial, according to MTV, was "Chrysler's Eminem: Imported From Detroit." This commercial portrayed the American rapper, record producer and actor driving a Chrysler 200 through Detroit. As scenes of the economically depressed yet fiercely proud city flashed across the screen, the announcer noted that, "when it comes to luxury, it's as much about where it's from as who it's for."
Parking in front of the city's ornate Fox Theatre, whose marquee says "Keep Detroit Beautiful," Eminem stepped out of the shiny black sedan. Walking inside the theater and onstage in front of an African-American choir, Eminem faced the camera. "This is the Motor City, and this is what we do," he said, then pointed to the viewer as the shot cut to a gleaming Chrysler 200 parked in front of the 1928 movie palace. The commercial closed with the words emblazoned on the screen: "Imported From Detroit."
Four days after the game, YouTube had recorded 24 million views for the "Volkswagen: The Force" video and 4 million views for "Chrysler's Eminem: Imported From Detroit."
The development and production of these Super Bowl ads is big-time business. The cost of airing these commercials was $3 million for 30 seconds of airtime, not including whatever may have been spent in creative and production.
The message: We love to watch and share the story of family; happy endings, and making dreams come true.
Yes, the Green Bay Packers, led by quarterback Aaron Rodgers, beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31 to 25 on Super Bowl Sunday. And, so far, the cute family is beating out the slick rapper by five to one.
P.S.: The National Anthem should be about the song and not the singer.