Saturday, February 12, 2005


There was a bit of a scandal over the airing of's commercial during the Super Bowl - enough of one to get the second airing of the spot near the two-minute warning (as well as a "Brought to you by..." voice-over) yanked.

In the ad, an actress named Nikki Capelli was testifying in front of a censorship panel when suddenly the strap on her halter top broke, nearly causing a wardrobe malfuntion. But it did draw attention to the URL printed across her chest:

The Super Bowl producers and the NFL (who allegedly demanded that the commercial be pulled, although they deny it) may have prevented a second showing, but the damage had already been done. Nikki Capelli and her own version of the Goodyear blimps were now a part of the TV Universe.

(Why were the Powers That Be so afraid of a repeat performance? Did they think that the next time the outcome would change? I don't think Sam Beckett ('Quantum Leap') or Frank Parker ('7 Days') would have leapt or back-stepped in order to make sure we got an eyeful of Ms. Cappelli's attributes.

The Super Bowl producers tried to prevent two other ads from appearing; one by Airborne featuring Mickey Rooney and his naked butt, and the other for Budweiser with a behind-the-scenes look at what really caused Janet Jackson's own wardrobe malfunction.

But even though they succeeded in keeping us from learning the truth or from seeing Rooney's booty, they still found their way into the world of the Cathode Ray. Both ads found exposure in news programs and even the morning shows. (Although Rooney's booty was now more pixilated than dimpled.) So for all intents and purposes the Super Bowl Star Chamber failed in squelching it entirely.

And so the producers of all three commercials got what they wanted in the first place - exposure for their ads and thus their products. They may have sounded the trumpets of indignation in their cries against censorship, but the news coverage was free publicity.

It all reminds me of Susan Lucci's "shame" - seventeen years without winning an Emmy for her work on 'All My Children'. And yet each year, people came away remembering Susan Lucci and never remembering who actually won for Best Actress. And she got several TV movie deals and a chance to host 'Saturday Night Live'.

But once she won? Where else has she been besides in Corinth?

So the best way to get the most for your blipvert buck when it comes to the Super Bowl? Produce a horrible commercial that you know will never get airplay, cry "Censorship!" when it is rejected, and make sure the evening news show the ad often.

Max Bialystock would be proud.


No comments: