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&%$#@ My Halftime Show Says, TV Ads and Sewer Bills

February 09, 2012
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So by now you have probably heard about the kerfuffle with the Super Bowl Halftime Show, where one of the "singers" flipped off an estimated 110 million TV viewers and uttered a word often considered obscene. I say "often" because that word is making it on network TV more and more - after kiddie bedtime, of course.

As is the case in these things, all of the finger pointing started immediately, with the NFL, NBC and Bridgestone Americas all making their cases as to which party was ultimately to blame. Of course, the real blame should go to the purported “celebrity rapper” M.I.A., who offered her middle digit while scowling an utterance as Madonna, who apparently invited this wanna-be to participate in her show, was busy performing.  

In a story by Mediaworks, Dan MacDonald, vice president of community and corporate relations for the tiremaker, said, "What happened is the responsibility of M.I.A., and what happened during the show was, in our view, offensive and very unfortunate. We hold the artist responsible.”

Now, to be clear, according to Bridgestone it only writes a multi-million check to sponsor the halftime show. It claims to have no involvement or input on the selection of performers, other performers invited to participate, the staging – literally anything other than the use of its logo.

NBC – as has been the case with the other networks televising the Super Bowl – also claims no involvement – other than having to be involved in show planning in order to facilitate TV coverage. Oh, and having a seven second delay system on hand in the event someone, like the obviously self-important M.I.A., might wanna go R-rated. This system reportedly “malfunctioned,” to borrow a now legendary Super Bowl excuse word, earning NBC a deserved sideways look and “Huh?”

No, it is the NFL that selects and books the halftime show acts (so blame them for the Black Eyed Peas and the sad The Who performance). The “No Fun League” approved the inclusion of M.I.A., despite many, many warnings that she was every bit controversial and might be the kind of person that would choose the path infamy if given a large enough stage. Like, say, the Super Bowl or something.

For whatever reason, it seems that everyone has a say-so in the process except for the one paying the bills – very, very, very expensive bills, to be sure. And when the “Bridgestone Super Bowl Halftime Show” (as it is tagged, marketed and repeated over and over again) becomes memorable for something like that, it doesn’t reflect well. Bridgestone knows that.

According to Mediaworks, Bridgestone holds the halftime show deal through the 2015 Super Bowl. Perhaps it will push to gain better control on something firmly attached to its brand name, one it has spent millions upon millions building in North America.

BTW: Send us your suggestion as to what act should grace the Super Bowl stage in 2013. We’ll publish the complete list of acts you offer in a future installment.

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Nuthin’ fer nuthin’….beside the NFL championship, the Super Bowl is also the launch pad for new advertising campaigns by a wide range of companies. The commercials, in fact, are sometimes better than the actual game (we’re looking at you Super Bowl XX!!!!)

USA Today pulled together its Super Bowl Ad Meter, its annual grading of the fresh TV commercials that were unveiled during the game. The newspaper also gathered reader input in putting together its grade card.

By and large, most critics and pundits gave low marks to the entire lot, agreeing there was no breakout commercials, nothing really new and nothing that created buzz.

Even with the low overall marks, Doritos’ “Sling Baby” spot took top honors in the USA Today poll, as it did in a couple of others I saw. It was OK (I thought the new VW spot was better), and was certainly on my Top 5 list.

Bridgestone was the only tiremaker spending on Super Bowl ads, offering up three total spots during the pre-game and in-game properties. The two new spots, tying tire performance back to performance enhanced sporting goods, included one named ‘Performance Football’ starring NFL Hall of Famer Troy Aikman, and another titled ‘Performance Basketball’ with NBA star Steve Nash.

According to the USA Today poll, the ‘Performance Football’ spot placed 35th overall, and ‘Performance Basketball’ ranked 42nd. That was out of 56 total in-game commercials.

Still, both were better than either of’s ads.

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And while we’re still on Bridgestone, the tiremaker may have found the most unexpected of line items to add to its revenue stream: utility invoice printing.

According to the Akron Beacon Journal, Summit County, Ohio, (of which Akron is the county seat) wants to outsource the printing of its sewer bills to save money. And the county council is looking to hire the tiremaker, which has a top-shelf printing operation in the city, to handle the work.

The one-year contract, according to the newspaper, would be worth some $105,400 to print and mail bills to 17,000 customers.

Bridgestone isn’t the direct contractor in the deal. An outfit named Etactics is actually running point; it would subcontracted the printing and mailing work to the tiremaker.