A blog about nothing in particular, with puns, drawings, and charts because I'm too lazy to write a lot.
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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Super Bowl XLVI: End of an Era?

Last Sunday’s Super Bowl was great.  It was an intriguing matchup that managed to live up to the hype.  Plus, the game was exciting enough to make people at the party shut up about their "famous" dip for a few minutes (they're all the same; nobody cares).  But while I was pretty psyched-up about the game, I wasn’t just interested in the football – I was watching for the commercials.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I love football – I was just looking for something special.  I’ve had my eye on a certain something that has been popping up in commercials over the past decade, and I was curious to see if the trend would continue through Super Bowl Sunday.

Back in 2000, a sports comedy debuted in theaters about a team of substitute pro football players who were called to play during a labor strike.  “The Replacements”, starring Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman, produced a few laughs, but ultimately fell into the “Cheesy/Dumb Comedy Disguised as a Sports Movie Starring Unathletic Actors in Laughably Bad Sports Scenes” category (e.g. “The Waterboy”, “Rookie of the Year”, “Mr. 3000”, “Semi-Pro”, “Juwanna Man”, “Summer Catch”, etc.).  It’s certainly better than most/all of the other movies in that category, and it does find its way onto a cable channel from time to time, but the movie is all but forgotten at this point. 

However, one strange legacy from the movie remains – the jerseys used in the movie continue to show up all over the place.

I first noticed the jerseys in a Tinactin commercial around 2004 or 2005:

Then I started seeing them in other commercials (and I'm convinced I saw them in a music video too), but I never took note because I figured the trend would have to end soon.  I mean, there’s no way companies would continue to use the same uniforms that were just used in a half dozen other ads, right?  Wrong.  For the rest of the decade, the jerseys frequently popped up in commercials, leaving me baffled (and a little excited) every time.

But by the end of the decade, the appearances had slowed to the point that I thought it might be the end of the road for Keanu’s threads. Then in the past year, there was a sudden resurgence.  First, there was the Jared the Galleria of Jewelry commercial (Winter 2010-11):
Then in June, I saw an online banner ad for a new show called “Necessary Roughness”:
And just to throw in some variety, even the cheerleaders’ uniforms began to make appearances (Summer-Fall 2011):
I guess you have to hand it to the ad men/women in Hollywood for being so thrifty, but things were getting a little absurd.  I know it's cool to be green and everything, but nobody likes recycling that much.  And it seems I wasn’t the only one who noticed that things were getting out of hand because everything finally seemed to change at the end of this football season.  The start of the playoffs brought on a relative bevy of ads featuring unofficial football jerseys.  And to my surprise, the familiar red and blue unis never appeared.  In fact, some of the jerseys looked new and actually sort of cool.  Taco Bell and Prilosec used some basic red uniforms in their new ads, but at least they were different.  And French’s and AT&T pulled out all the stops, showing off some cool new digs in their TV spots:

So with this football jersey hot streak, and plenty of new jerseys to reuse in future ads, I was looking to the Super Bowl to signal the end of the “Replacements” Era.  I figured if I didn’t see the jerseys in a new Super Bowl commercial, I could reasonably expect to never see them again.  So what was the final tally?  Well, it was a little anticlimactic, but I got what I was expecting: 1 new jersey (presented by Bridgestone) and 0 new “Replacements” ads.  Of course, they showed (and are still showing) the Jared Jewelry commercial, but they can’t keep showing that forever, right? 

This is enough evidence for me – I think I can safely say that this period of jersey recycling is over.  I’m just not sure how I feel about it.  Bad movies should disappear, and football commercials are long overdue for an upgrade.  But I do think I’m going to miss this little game of “I Spy” next season.  I guess I’ll just have to pay attention to the football. 

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