The Aesthetics of Super Bowl Ads
For the first time in long memory, this year’s Super Bowl XXXVIII was actually worth watching for the game itself. You know, that’s the fussing around on the field that happens between the high-priced commercials that this year averaged $2.25 million for a 30-second spot. But despite Adam Vinatieri’s 41-yard cliffhanger field goal in the final four seconds that put the Pats over the Cats 32-29, much of this year’s post-game chatter concerned aesthetics, which my American Heritage dictionary defines as “Guiding principles in matters of artistic beauty and taste.” No, I’m not yet referring to Janet Jackson’s peek-a-boob flashdance but its relevance will come into play shortly.
Let’s kick off our annual analysis of the most striking of this year’s Super Bowl ads by celebrating the editing principles behind these mixtures of entertainment and hype. This column has always defined “editing” as the creative act of combining two discrete ideas to create a third, disparate concept in the mind of the viewer. This can be expressed in the formula B + C = A, where “B” and “C” are the audiovisual elements being juxtaposed and “A” is the intended impression the audience is supposed to receive.