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February 6th, 2012

Monday morning quarterbacking: A materials review of Super Bowl XLVI

Published on February 6th, 2012 | By: Eileen De Guire

GE’s Super Bowl commercial features engineers making power plant turbines that “make the power that makes the beer.” Credit: GE; NFL.

So, the Super Bowl is all about three things: football, the commercials and the half-time show.

Super Bowl XLVI is history now and will be deconstructed for quite some time. As my football ignorance is vast, I have nothing to add, except to note that it was a good game and more fun to watch than many have been. The only thing I would have changed was the outcome!

But, I’m stoked about the commercials. Did you notice how many materials science commercials there were? I especially like the heroic portrayal of engineers and in the GE commercial, “Power and Beer.”

Here’s what I caught. Did you see any that I missed? Which one did you like best?

1. Bud Light Platinum – Features a stylized beer bottle manufacturing line, which begins with a fantastical blue stream of molten glass. Obviously, it was a CG production, but I would have liked to see a red hot glass flow cool to a blue bottle, and no harm would have come to the beer. The blue molten glass stream felt all wrong. Also, I’m not sure about the marketing thinkology behind naming an amber brew “Platinum,” a metal that definitely is not amber hued, but I will always welcome a materials connection to a consumer product.

2. Bridgestone tires – Bridgestone bought several spots with the theme of “bringing tire technology to the world of sports,” where a team of white-coated engineers used advanced polymer tire technology to engineer footballs, basketballs and hockey pucks with extraordinary properties. The spots struck me as clever, and the depiction of the engineers as friendly caricatures.

3. GE, “Power and Beer” – This was my favorite because it was intelligent, true and relevant. Engineers are shown explaining what turbines are, how they are made and what they do, which is to make power (in this case). The engineers are depicted as genuine and approachable, people we’d like to have a beer with. And, indeed, the commercial shows the GE team stopping at the local pub for a cold one, where the other patrons ask them what they do for a living. Keeping it simple, the answer comes back, “We make the power for making the beer.” We see the “ah-ha” moment dawn, and a cheer erupt for the heroic engineers who make the power for making the beer!

And what about the “Material Girl’s” halftime show? I’m not going to waste any pixels on Ms. M, except to observe that this may have been an historic performance for her—she ended the show wearing more than when the show started. Maturity? Middle age? The former is unlikely; the latter is inevitable.


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