You don’t have to hang around me long to know that I’m not the saltiest french fry in the Happy Meal when it comes to sports. Sure, I played growing up, if you define “play” as standing in the outfield watching airplanes go by and occasionally hearing my coach yell, “Franks! The game is over! The lights are off!” (and then muttering under his breath…”Moron.”)
Needless to say, the Super Bowl is nothing more to me than a time to eat chicken wings and watch great commercials. This year, for example, when I found out who was playing three days before the game, I actually had an argument with my 12 year old son telling him that there was no way the Cardinals were playing because I knew for a fact that the Cardinals were a baseball team, so what do you think of THAT, Mr. Hot Shot I-Know-More-About-Sports-Than-My-Dad Guy?!?
But I digress…back to the commercials. Because I’m rather slow when it comes to sports-related things (even commercials), this idea didn’t strike me until Monday morning, and I didn’t take time to write it down until today. But here goes: the American consumer is an idiot. And so are the marketing goobers that market to us.
Before you riot, know that my undergrad is in marketing. I know the four P’s like the back of my hand (especially since I took Marketing 101 twice). But I can get pretty incensed about the amount of money that companies spend in order to get the amount of money that we spend. On Sunday night, thirty two advertisers thumbed their collective noses at our recession and lined up to shell out a total of $206 million so that we would buy beer, corn chips, and tires.
Our country’s forefathers would be so proud.
I have nothing against advertisers. Many of the commercials were downright ingenious. I have nothing against consumers. Many people need tires. They need corn chips. And they need…vitamin water.
But when I stop to think about what the advertisers are trying to accomplish in the Super Bowl vs. what our church is trying to accomplish through our Believe project, all I can do is laugh. Three million bucks to get people to buy snack food that will be digested and gone in 24 hours. The only lasting memory will be what it does to their thighs.
On the other hand, our church is just crazy enough to believe that if we spend money on our community rather than on us as consumers…the return on the investment will continue long after we’re gone. Yeah, there’s a lot riding on your tires, but there’s a lot more riding on our mandate to share the gospel.
I believe that corn chips will make me happy while I watch episodes of The Office. But I believe that what we’re doing as a church will transcend my lifetime.
How about you? Are you staking your salvation on the stuff you can gather, or in what can never be taken away?
And lest you think that I’m an anti-marketing stick in the mud, I do have my personal all-time favorite Super Bowl commercials. You can see the greatest one ever right here:
(And now that I think about it, it’s also a pretty good commentary on what I just wrote.)