Tuesday, February 14, 2012

DID YOU NOTICE? The Super Bowl edition

Why was Kelly Clarkson singing the national anthem? Does she have a show coming up on NBC?

I was so sure about this, but I was wrong about one thing about the Super Bowl production. During Clarkson's rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, I told my wife to wait for it....

.... the fly-by.

Oh, sure, I know they were playing the Super Bowl in a dome, so a military fly-by would have seemed ridiculous. But that didn't stop the NFL from arranging for a fly-by during the 2008 Phoenix Super Bowl -- even though the roof had been closed.

I was wrong. There was no fly-by over the dome in Indianapolis.

For the pre-pre-game show, NBC broadcast a retrospective of the 2011 NFL season, narrated by Tom Selleck. It was a good way to kick off 6 hours of football coverage -- and that's not including the time it took to play the game.

In the closing credits of the program, the NBC "Road to the Super Bowl" show featured media credits to just two entities: One was probably a film production company of some kind called ITN, and the other credit was to "Tebowing.com".

I wish I had made that prop bet on whether there would be a safety in the Super Bowl.

What we learned from the pre-game interview of various players who want to be playing in the Super Bowl again, but aren't: one player said the Super Bowl players each get 15 game tickets and 2 hotel rooms. By my calculation, that's about 1350 tickets just for the participating players. Add in coaches and team officials, and I'll bet we're over 2000 tickets just for team commitments. And other NFL teams get about 1% of the seating capacity of the stadium. Each NFL player gets the chance to purchase 2 tickets. That covers another more than 1000 tickets. Don't worry, I'm sure fans can purchase a few tickets, too.

It took nearly 30 minutes of their live 4-hour pre-game show for NBC to trot out the first of the stars of their television series. The honor went to Katherine McPhee of NBC's new series, SMASH. And so, the NBC self-promotion was off to a good start. Before the hour was over, NBC promo'd another series with one of their stars, and then Parks and Recreation star Amy Pohler was featured in a comedy segment.

Later, NBC's pre-game show featured a completely non-football related promotion for a movie, "That's My Boy" and brief face time with its stars, Andy Samberg, Adam Sandler, and another of the SNL guys. I assumed the movie was connected with NBC-owner Comcast's Universal pictures division, but I couldn't find a connection to Universal. That left me with the feeling that the interview with the stars of the movie was nothing more than a not-so-subtle paid advertisement for the movie.

Later, the upcoming Marvel Avengers movie and its star also got a segment during the pre-game show. That movie is produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. Again, no Comcast / NBC / Universal connection. Yeah, definitely a paid commercial.

Can you say Product Placement? As the pre-game show wore on, Ritz crakers were highlighted by feeding the pre-game show hosts various toppings on Ritz crackers, complete with a large Ritz cracker logo on the on-air video boards. Guess those FCC laws against too many commercials per hour of TV doesn't count for in-show commercials.

NBC's pre-game show timing was well done. NBC slowly transitioned each hour of the pre-game show towards move football-related content. The first couple hours featured completely non-football-related product placements and in-program commercials. By 4:00pm, they still weren't talking much football, but did turn to the entertainment part of the Super Bowl. That's when NBC interviewed Madonna about her halftime show.

During the Madonna interview, she was asked if there would be a "wardrobe malfunction" during her 12-minute set. Madonna said, unequivocally, that she "guaranteed" there would be no wardrobe malfunction.

I think the better question to ask Madonna would have been "So, do you guarantee that none of your talentless, media-craving, publicity-seeking guest stars will try something totally insulting, stupid, obscene, and in violation of FCC rules, just to advance their careers and street cred?

Was it me, or was the Lucas Oil Stadium field devoid of that ridiculous and embarrassing scene of teenagers jumping up and down around the stage during the halftime show? Usually the NFL rolls the kids in -- and then herds them out after the halftime show -- to give the feel and excitement of a concert. Then again, with a cast of thousands, Madonna did not need extra bodies around the stage.

NBC's pre-game show also added a story about New York Giants' wide receiver Victor Cruz' unique touchdown celebration, which is a salsa dance.

BUT WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? After Victor Cruz's touchdown early in the game, NBC cut from the receiver doing his patented salsa touchdown celebration. They cut to a shot of quarterback Eli Manning trotting off the field, never returning to Cruz' TD celebration. Nor did NBC show it on replay, in spite of making a big deal of the dance on the pre-game show.

After the game, who knew that it would take longer for 78-year-old former NFLer Raymond Berry to walk the Vince Lombardi trophy from the sideline to the presentation stage at midfield, than for Kelly Clarkson to sing the national anthem?

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