Shazam! Super Bowl Broke Ground in Media Technology, but Halftime Show Was Deja Vu

Feb 8, 2012

Even as the New York Giants pulled off a thrilling come-from-behind, down-to-the-last-play win over the New England Patriots in Indianapolis, what Super Bowl XLVI may be remembered for nearly as much are its record ratings for the NBC broadcast, the M.I.A bird flip during the Madonna halftime show and the Clint Eastwood Chrysler commercial.

With :30 spots going for a pricey $3.5 million each, the majority of those that seemed to resonate most were for cars — Matthew Broderick reprising his iconic Ferris Bueller role for Honda, Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno shilling for Acura, an overweight dog running to get into a new Volkswagen Beetle, the Audi vampire party commercial — along with Super Bowl party-perfect snack foods and beverages, like Pepsi, Doritos and M&Ms. Then, defying easy categorization, except for possibly “hot, sexy, heavily tattooed athletic bodies sell,” there was David Beckham in his skivvies for fast fashion retailer H&M.

The 46th edition of the NFL championship game also marked a digital milestone, with the gridiron play, halftime and more than one third of the commercials being “Shazamable.”

For those not familiar, Shazam is an audio/music recognition app for smartphones that made its name in the music industry before integrating its second screen experience into several television shows last year. It provided users with exclusive content and free songs for several awards telecasts, dramas and music competition programs — and it’s clearly making major inroads into the TV business with its Super Bowl foray.

The U.K.-based company offered its users chances to download videos, enter sweepstakes and donate to charity and says the spot that received the most interaction was for Best Buy, which conveniently featured its founders, Chris Barton and Avery Wang, talking about innovations in mobile technology.

Movie ticketing site Fandango also experimented with a Super Bowl commercial for the first time. For Universal Pictures’ upcoming action-adventure film “Battleship,” viewers saw a call to action that linked them to the company’s mobile app. There, they could sign up for alerts that will notify them when tickets are available at their local theaters and could enter a contest to win five years’ worth of free movie tickets.

As television moves from a passive, sit-back-on-the-couch experience to a more interactive one, trailers for upcoming films are the perfect opportunity to get bodies in paid seats. "The campaign was highly successful for us, and we look forward to supporting all of our studio partners with on-air FanAlert promotional opportunities on more films in the future,” says company spokesperson Harry Medved.

It just wouldn’t be a complete Super Bowl halftime show without some controversy, and sort of, but not really, like Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” from eight years back, the one from XLVI happened in less than a blink of the eye.

During Madonna’s performance of her new single “Give Me All Your Luvin,” with guest stars Nicki Minaj and M.I.A., the latter pulled out a fourth-grade gesture, flipping off the massive audience, estimated at that point to be 116 million people, with her middle finger — for some unknown reason other than she could.

NBC and the NFL, which is solely responsible for the content of the halftime show, apologized, saying the gesture could not be obscured in time. Apparently, if the FCC decides to fine NBC for indecency, the British rapper would be responsible for monetary damages for her finger wag. TMZ and other news organizations are reporting that she signed a contract with the NFL to indemnify it in the case of such a circumstance.

You may recall that CBS was hit with a $550,000 FCC fine after Jackson’s nipple exposure in a song and dance routine with Justin Timberlake — to this day a mystery of whether it was inadvertent or purposeful — but that the fine was eventually thrown out by a federal appeals court.

In the court of public opinion, we can use another finger to describe M.I.A.’s behavior: thumbs down.

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