Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg is boosting his 2020 presidential campaign with a Super Bowl ad. The $10 million commercial [ABC News] spends 60 seconds urging viewers to support Bloomberg for stricter gun control.
But America isn’t going to be watching the Super Bowl on Sunday for this.
NFL fans do not like their favorite sport hijacked for political messaging. We learned that during Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem protests in 2017.
NFL television ratings dropped 9.7% during the 2017 regular season [ESPN]. An estimated 1.6 million fans tuned out because they were turned off by the politicization of their entertainment.
And the millions of non-fans who at least tune in to the Super Bowl every year don’t want this either. They’re watching for commercials that make them laugh. Michael Bloomberg is tone-deaf to the medium he just blew $10 million to advertise in.
Americans are watching the Super Bowl so they can relax. This is their time off. They want to let go of their cares and worries for just one evening and spend time with family and friends, cheering and laughing.
Michael Bloomberg is creating an awkward moment at best. At worst, he’s turning your Super Bowl party into a political debate stage. There’s almost nothing more out of place at a party than politics.
This is not to trivialize the grief of the mother in the ad. Or the tragedy of her son’s life cut short by an act of violence. But the world is full of so many sorrows, and the Super Bowl is not the appropriate venue to air any of them.
Can we ever get a break anymore?
Not even once a year, for the Super Bowl, can we take a break just to relax? We have to be scared and angry and political 24/7, 365 days a year now? We can’t even buy shoes and chicken sandwiches anymore without it being a political act. Many commentators decry political apathy, but we’re too involved in politics these days.
Bloomberg is really going to annoy and turn off a lot of voters with his rude interruption of their festivities.
They want to see a kid give Mean Joe a Coke. And people sipping Budweiser and saying “Whassup!” incessantly for 60 seconds. They want to see talking babies trading stocks.
What they do not want is a politician manipulating their feelings to tell them who to vote for on Super Bowl Sunday. And even if they did, Michael Bloomberg picked the wrong issue and the wrong messaging. If a politician dares tread in the Super Bowl ad arena, the right play is to keep it light and make the audience laugh.
Donald Trump’s Super Bowl ad spot at least keeps the messaging all positive. That’s better than Bloomberg’s ad.
But it still fails to do the essential thing that makes a Super Bowl ad a success: make people laugh with something memorable that keeps them talking about it the next day at the water cooler.
Going for laughs in a political ad risks a flop, but not if your writers know what they’re doing. And even if it’s risky, it’s not a guaranteed waste of millions of dollars.
As for the ad topic, Bloomberg is taking an enormous, unnecessary risk. If he plans to win in 2020, what is he doing staking out a position on a polarizing issue? All he has to do is talk about his otherworldly level of success in business and politics.
“My name’s Michael Bloomberg. I’m not Bernie, and I’m not Trump. Whassup?”
The ad practically writes itself.