I know that the regular 2015 NFL season hasn’t begun, but I’m going to predict that we’re just a few weeks — maybe just a few days — away from the launch of an overwhelming nation-wide marketing campaign about Super Bowl 50, scheduled for February 7, 2016 in San Francisco. The campaign will encourage us to believe that the 50th episode of this popular TV show is somehow very important – a landmark moment in sports history. I also anticipate a whole rash of merchandising pitches and “very special” TV broadcasts ahead of the game
What’s the magic of numbers divisible by 5?
The media like to note those big round numbers — 10, 25, 50, 100 years — as if they’re something magic. The 50 year mark is especially fertile material for TV broadcasters. Part of that has to do with the development of color TV and videorecording 50 years ago — it’s easier now to dredge up TV broadcasts for that era than it is for the decades that comprised the first half of the 20th Century. Recall the fall of 2013 when the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination rolled around — the retrospectives, specials, commemorative books, etc. never ended. Fortunately a few months later was the 50th anniversary of the Beatles on Ed Sullivan and their tour of America; at least those were happier times to re-live. It makes me nervous thinking ahead to 2018 — do you suppose the networks are already working on plans for programming to take us back to 1968? No thank you.
The Super Bowl telecast is unquestionably the most popular TV show in America, and 50 is a nice round number. Just being number 50 doesn’t make the upcoming game at Levi’s Stadium remarkable, though – but they’ll try to make us believe that it is.
San Francisco – Building enthusiasm for Super Bowl 50
Marketing in San Francisco stepped up back in March with the “50 weeks to Super Bowl 50” theme (there’s that nice round number 50 again). Expect that countdown to continue and intensify as the NFL rolls out merchandise and “very special” TV programming to stir up viewer interest in the telecast. Expect lots of interviews with former players, fans in the stands, and anyone else who took part in that first game.
It’s not the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl
By the way, some will refer to the 2016 Super Bowl as the 50th Anniversary, but it’s not. That won’t happen until January of 2017. The word “anniversary” means the passing of a year since an event, so Super Bowl II was the first anniversary of Super Bowl I, and Super Bowl 50 marks 49 years since that first game. And not to get all history-geekish, but there really wasn’t ever a game called Super Bowl I – it was named and advertised as the first National Championship of the NFL and AFL. Only in retrospect was the name Super Bowl I applied to the 1967 game. It’s kind of like World War I — nobody called it that when it was going on — it required World War II to get it the first place ranking.
So brace yourself. The advertising and hype are likely to be extreme, my friends, so heighten your resistance now to the marketing messages that are sure to come. Ask yourself if you really need special apparel and souvenir trinkets to remember the 50th (or is it really the 49th?) Super Bowl. If you’re a serious collector of sports memorabilia, though, I say knock yourself out; it’s not for me to judge your hobbies. You might like your own collection of flip coins available here. Or you can check out the NFL Shop for Superbowl merch (when I posted this, all they had were a couple $10 pins with the Superbowl logo — but I think it’s safe to say the collection will expand). Likewise if you’re a Bay Area resident and you want a keepsake to remember the live, in person, real event that will take part in your city — that may not happen again in the Bay Area for a long time, so go ahead and celebrate.
But I do think you might instead like to do more real stuff.
Thanks for reading. Comments welcome.