Today is media day in Phoenix as a press contingent of 4,786 was on hand to ask the players everything from the intelligent (“how will you defend Randy Moss?”) to the inane (“what will you have for breakfast?”). It’s all news and apparently just about all of it is fit to print.

The Super Bowl isn’t just the best two teams in the NFL slugging it out. It’s the best the advertising industry has to offer. Well, at least for this target audience.

Wait, you say. Can a target audience be over 100 million people? Yep. If you’re target is the masses.

Remember the masses? Television used to reach ’em back in the happy days of mass media. In fact, when I was a kid, if an advertiser bought time on “Happy Days” they’d hit a huge percentage of the market.

Before my time, the “I Love Lucy” show was so popular the water pressure would literally go down in major metropolitan areas during a commercial break. I call that the “Lucy effect.”

The Super Bowl is the only television program that comes close to that type of mass-market appeal. Consider this: a recent Retail Advertising & Marketing Association survey found that 36.3 percent of consumers will tune in . . . just to watch the commercials.

The formula for Super Bowl ads: make it funny. Or make it an epic. Then spend lots of money. This year, lots of money is $2.7 million for 30 seconds.

Is spending that much on a Super Bowl ad responsible? Sometimes. Super Bowl advertising has transcended mere advertising. The ads get equal time at the watercooler as the game does. The ads are now advertainment driving word-of-mouth–the most powerful form of marketing.

In the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl and following the game, a lot of attention is given to Super Bowl ads. Ads are rated, reviewed and commented upon on television, in print and online. That’s a lot of free impressions. Geez, I’m even going to have a poll here on the Responsible Marketing Blog – don’t miss it on Monday, 2/4.

So, with all this attention and this many people create a Lucy effect during this year’s game? Not likely. Remember, 36.3% of the people tuning in are watching for the ads.

But if it’s a blowout, we could see a reverse Lucy effect: the water pressure drops. . . after the ads.

Here’s an irresistible tie-in: Lucy doing a television commercial.

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