Nowadays advertisements play a pivotal role in the life of the whole world. Being a topic to discuss, a time-killer to watch, a joke to laugh at and a source to take information from, it became the art of the ??? century. Sometimes commercial breaks on television can take more time than the program itself, what makes it by no means an addition but a separate notion. The NFL and the NBA, being a vital part of life of almost every American, did not escape the commercials as well, those mostly are beer ads. Let’s delve deeper and find out what are the purpose, structure and function of these beer commercials during the biggest sports shows in the USA.
It was said that “advertising is the art of arresting the human intelligence just long enough to get money from it” (Blore 185). We can be intrinsically wrong thinking that when we watch a commercial, they have no power on us and cannot influence us in any way. There exist a huge amount of techniques, methods and ways to operate within our mind and make us believe that what we see and hear is true as God. We need to understand that no matter how funny, nice and interesting the commercial is, it is still a commercial whose prior characteristic is “commercialism”, equal in its meaning to financial profit.
It has being a long time since the question of harmful influence of the advertisement on children was raised and proven to make sense. Dr. Reinhold Berger says that there are a few reasons why kids should have a commercial-free childhood, such as expansion as it is being presented in all spheres of life, probable underestimating of its impact, and the clearness or inexperience of a child’s mind. Children are not always able to differentiate between programs and advertisements, what make them quite vulnerable and helpless in front of the TV set. Furthermore, they trust what they hear and see without putting it under doubt. Adults are supposed to think critically and filtrate the information given, but how did it happen that adults started believing in the ability of the advertisement to give the product a quality mark?
The writer and doctor Rhonda McDowell suggests the list of kinds of TV commercials. One of them is a traditional television advertisement, which is a regular commercial concentrating on the target audience. Another one is a product placement one, that is when during programs heroes are using the product and the viewers can vividly see the logo. Another one is a political advertisement which concerns politics and its issues. The last one, but not the least, is infomercial, the one that pleads for immediate response or action (ordering a product) from the audience.
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Beer commercials under public scrutiny
According to Carl H. Miller, beer commercials have always been under public scrutiny, since the outburst of television in 1940’s till now. That long time ago no one actually knew how to create a successful commercial and people working in this sphere were trying almost everything. A lot of doubt and uncertainty surrounded this process, because a person buying a beer on TV was perceived as a sign of bad taste. But in few years the situation completely changed and beer commercials became very popular. That coincided with the time when TV lacked good programs and mainly sports shows were broadcasted. “The notion that ‘sports sells beer’ is perhaps the most sacred axiom of beer marketing, just as true 50 years ago as today”, says Miller. With time passing the audience became more sophisticated and this entailed the commercials to change as well. They became of more “polish and finesse”, fully understanding their aim, and, finally, competing with rivals.
As we can see, beer advertisements and sports shows have been together as good partners for quite a long time. What is the secret of this mutually beneficial friendship? It is not a surprise that the main audience of sports shows is men, who love beer more than women do. Actually, for the time being it became a kind of tradition to drink a beer while watching another football game. Beer ads and sports shows created a nice tandem.
Bud Light, the official sponsor of the NFL 2011, filmed a series of TV commercials called “Dear Football”,which became a vivid example of the partnership between beer advertisements and sports shows. One commercial out of the series is called “Love is”, it lasts 30 seconds and shows how love looks for football fans. That is to sacrifice your car to build a pirate ship, that is a bottle of Bud Light in the afternoon, that is when you celebrate the victory on the parking lot; love is a belief that victory is yours. Another commercial from this series says that football is inspiring in the way that we can do some crazy things. And if to be a real fan of your team means to be crazy, Bud Light presupposes to make people crazy.
Why are those advertisements so appealing?
I believe this effect is reached with the use of the football spirit sustained during the commercials. It looks so realistic, so close to life, that you feel being on the same wavelength with heroes from the ad, those happy people who do not seem to be acting, but being really engaged in and devoted to what they are doing. Notions of unity, friendship, dedication, life priorities, sincerity, inspiration and help are mentioned in the advertisement. According to the commercial all the positive traits belong to football fans, who drink the advertised beer. I think this is the focal point of commercials of this type: create a visual and auditory association offered by the advertisement. Here it is a real fan and a bottle of beer Bud Light in his hands. By this I mean, that next time, when the ordinary viewer will hear the word football fan, he might visualize him drinking Bud Light beer (in case when the advertisement achieved its goal).
Taking this into account, it is not too hard to assume that within the NFL shows’ audience there are some people perceiving themselves to be football fans, which automatically makes them potential customers. This is the way the mutual friendship between beer and sport realizes itself: companies advertise their product in decent time for the target audience, and as a feedback, sponsor those sports shows.
Jeffrey Montez de Oca and Michael A. Messner in Beer and Liquor Ads in Mega Sports Events say that a beer advertisement does not merely ‘glue’ the name to the product but comes up with a situation that is taken from life, creating so-called ‘lifestyle branding’, for instance, a couple sharing a bottle of cold beer. The author says that women were rarely shown in this type of ads and in this way beer was perceived as mainly male drink. As we can see the main traditions of beer advertisements remain till now as they proved to be quite successful in this light through the modification period.
NBA beer advertisement
If to talk about NBA beer ads, the one that is quite noticeable is the Budweiser commercial, 2011. This advertisement really captures attention, because it is made like a little show with music, dancing, stars, and… beer. A lot of colors, familiar melody, and bunch of people having fun, make it look like a party, where you are a guest. This commercial loudly proclaims the beginning of the NBA season, the constituent part of which, according to commercial, is Budweiser beer. The people from the ad look really cool, confident, glamorous and posh. It is exactly this association the advertising agents want to tag to the audience memory, “You want to look fascinating? Drink our beer!”
Interesting enough, Lawrence A. Wenner and Steven J. Jacobson in their book Sport, beer, and gender:promotional culture and contemporary social life study all the small details of beer commercials during the advertisement breaks in college and NBA games. They say that NBA beer commercials were more likely to be filmed on the streets, did not include so many actors as the college ones; the biggest majority of them had only one main hero and, as a rule, a young one. The focus almost always was on the beer and its taste; fewer of advertisements were saying that beer is just the job when you enjoy your life. On the contrast to the college, NBA beer ads never put on the forefront the issue of drinking responsibility, which is understandable taking into account the age groups of the target audience.
As we study the question of advertising we cannot ignore the benefits it provides small and big businesses with. Dan Keen says that it is absolutely essential to absorb how inseparably close the success of the product lies to its advertisement. First of all – identity, the ad gives the name to your business. Secondly, it broadens the number of customers as many more people get to know what it is. Thirdly, promotions on the product in advertisements work twice successfully, and it may be just the right incentive for someone to buy something you offer.
Another vital characteristic that the ad possesses is an ability to inform a lot of people about the working hours of the store, which is really convenient for the customers. Also Dan Keen says that with the help of commercials, new customers will come, and as they are satisfied with the product, they can advice it to others by word of mouth. One more benefit realizes itself in giving so called confidence to the clients when buying certain product. Even though, a commercial or any other kind of ad just cannot guarantee the quality of the product, today people perceive it in this very way. When you are in the store and you see the bottle of beer you’ve already met plenty of time during the sports shows on TV, and other beers, it is more likely that you will buy the advertised one.
It is also mentioned by Dan Keen that an advertisement needs to be consistent as it may create the adverse effect. For instance, if the company was advertising its products for quite a long time and then stopped doing this, it may look like the company is out of business and does not produce anything anymore. The consistency in advertising is as important as the ad itself.
One more benefit, which is hardly recognized as such, is investment. Yes, advertising is not free of charge, but that is the best investment which will definitely justify itself. The old saying claims, “Advertising doesn’t cost, it pays”, it pays in the way that it makes a lot of people know about this or that business, and next time they see its product they think about buying it.
Importance of the advertisement cannot be underestimated, but we should not also forget about the effect it produces and leaves on people who watch it. As the purpose of the advertisement is to make people buy the product, we may assume that it does not always reveal the whole truth or just the truth. All the commercials say that their product is just the thing for you, and is the best of its kind comparing to others. The subjectivity and contradiction make it obvious that we perceive advertisements as good advisers on stereotype level, created by skillful advertising agents.
The function of the commercials is to advertise products to people and widen the range of potential customers. As a rule, commercials are funny and colorful in order to be remembered by the audience. The name of the product is always repeated during one commercial at least two times to stick to the customer’s memory and after that be distinguished by him or her in the store. Talking more about the structure of the commercials, including beer ones, we know that there exist a lot of their kinds, so the uniqueness of idea is highly appreciated. Celebrities performing, realism all over, situational approach, attaching auditory or visual labels are all the techniques that are used in advertisement for the only purpose – to sell a product, which means to make, persuade, inspire you and me to buy what they offer.
To sum up, we can say that the advertisement is something that does not need to be advertised in order to be popular and in demand. All the possible methods to make the ad as successful as it may be are being used. Beer commercials use sports shows as just a right place, right time and right audience to propose their products with the maximum result. We need to think critically and assess what we hear and see during commercial breaks and remember that hidden techniques may be exploited to reach the goal.