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Professor watches for themes in Super Bowl ads

February 03, 2012 12:00AM

Dr. Alicia Mason, who teaches public relations and advertising courses at Pittsburg State University, joked that this week she has been thinking more about the menu she’ll serve for Super Bowl Sunday than the advertising she expects to see. Come kickoff, however, she’ll be looking for some themes.

Mason joins millions of Americans who look forward to Sunday's Super Bowl as much for the advertising as for the play on the field.

“The emergence of "green appeals" in product advertising is pervasive so it'll be interesting to see if new product classes try any of those eco-friendly appeals,” Mason said.

Mason said that because Super Bowl Sunday has become an almost de facto American holiday, advertisers sometimes use themes of nationalism and patriotism. She wonders whether these themes, if used, may seem politicized in any way because of election year politics.

Mason said her favorites are product placement ads that are “overt and in your face.”

Whether serious or funny, overt or subtle, all of the ads run during the Super Bowl will share one characteristic; they are expensive. A 30-second spot during Super Bowl XLVI will cost about $3.5 million. What advertisers get for their money is more than 100 million viewers and an audience that may be as interested in the advertising as it is in the game.

That assumes, of course, that viewers don’t escape to the kitchen during commercials, as consumption of food on Super Bowl Sunday is second only to Thanksgiving.

©2012 Pittsburg State University