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60 Second NFL SuperBowl commercial for Linux, Year II

May 23, 2000, 19:32 (33 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Richard M. Kadoi)

[ Contributed by Linux Today reader Richard M. Kadoi ]

It's about that time of year when heads collide, ideas crop up, and another SuperBowl commercial idea is hatched. It's also time for reflection of what "might have been" if an idea was presented at the last SuperBowl game.

About this time last year, I began to ponder about what Linux might have as an impact to the consumer side of business, if there was a commercial about it to a large audience during a single televised event. I immediately thought of the SuperBowl, with it's global mass-audience reach, and the appeal to have a 'memorable' 30-60 second spot that the audience would remember.

What I came up with was some rambling that got close to 6,000 reads, and almost 100 replies. All replies that were generated were read, and some of the suggestions became immediately implimented in a re-write of the original article.

Below is most of the original article. I re-wrote parts of it that didn't make sense so it flowed more sensibly. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I had re-visiting the article that showed so much interest, yet produced no real effects.

Maybe this time, those Linux companies that have money, along with the larger major players like IBM, Dell, Compaq, HP, etc., would be willing to form a committee to produce this commercial. Any takers?

I began to wonder about a commercial, one to begin the new year, to be the 'millenium' commercial that would vault Linux into the masses. I wondered if such a commercial could be produced, and how that commercial would be structured. So here is my rambling:

The first question came to me as: are there any commercials currently running in primetime television on any of the major 4 networks (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC) that gives exposure of Linux to the masses? If you have seen a generic Linux commercial, please email me so I can get an archive copy for viewing.

The second question was: how should the commercial be structured, and hence the script below. I know there will be people saying I should put a window that's doing other things that IT people might recognize, but the commercial isn't supposed to focus in on one strength or geek-neededness. The commercial is intended to just graze and tease the masses into asking "what is Linux?" and not to cater to one particular aspect of the Operating System/GUI. Remember, the first rule of marketing a product that is relatively unknown is to capture the audience's interest. Failing that, the commercial becomes a waste of bandwidth.

Before the actual commercial would air, an idea, way before the official one-minute commercial runs, is to have 'teaser' ad's in which 15 seconds or even 10 seconds of commercial-time is bought up and shown around the country. That simple 'blip'-mercial would be the penguin logo with the event mentioned at the bottom.

After the script was written, the last step was to figure out what television venue would suit best for a commercial of this magnitued. I immediately picked the NFL SuperBowl, since it is the single, largest televised event that has a global LIVE audience and the commercials that air during the half-time break have been known to become very memorable.

Now I know there are you out there outside of the United States crying foul and saying that Soccer (al la non-USA-football) is watched by millions of fans worldwide, but that still leaves the largest single global event that is currently being telecast year after year: the NFL Superbowl. Yes, the Olympics draw a large crowd, but as far as a single televised event, on a global scale with every little editing on the part of stations outside the U.S. especially with a live feed, only the NFL Superbowl came to mind. I'm sure that if you are curious, you can go to the NFL site and check for yourself on how popular this American sports event is outside of the U.S.

One thing to remember is that in last year's Superbowl (XXXIII - 1999), hotjobs.com ran a one minute unique commercial that not only overloaded it's servers after the commercial, but successfully launched an obscure online job-search company that is now one of the largest job search portals on the internet. Now that's what I call 'reaching the masses.'

For those who don't know the history behind their commercial, the production company ran over budget, editing did not have a lot of time left before the final edit, and the producers were in whole basically going on a prayer that the commercial that was being produced would be a success. Most people who worked on the commercial secretly worried that it would bomb.

Now, if you don't think you've ever seen a generic Linux commercial, then follow along the script below and see if this pseudo-commercial will be an eye-catcher for everyone to start questioning people: What is Linux?

(music in background, something rock'n'roll, fast beat, not grunge or acidic rock, something people can remember relatively easily)

Camera closeup of a 21" monitor, focusing in on one pixel.

Camera pans out from pixel.

Camera focuses shortly on a small window, still blurry.

Camera focuses in on an mall 200x320 windows that shows the stats for uptime (153 days, for example), cpuload (0.15 for example), users online (12 for example).

Camera keeps panning out.

Camera slowly shifts, showing more of the screen, first, an MP3 player on-screen showing timeplayed, title of artists (possibly an artist that's very well known).

Camera continues panning out, shows edge of an open spreadsheet program, with graphs (bottom right corner edge of document), shows edge of an open document with company letter head (top left corner edge of document).

Camera continues panning out, showing now the middle of the screen, a network game, with a status bar on top showing the number of users connected, and the user as HOST for the game in play.

Camera continues panning out, on lower left hand, small status window of Linux box, showing cpu w/speed (K6-2/300 for example), memory (128MB RAM for example), and swapspace (128 MB for example).

Camera continues panning out, showing the whole screen.

Camera continues panning out, we see that the user is in a cubicle of some sort.

Camera continues panning out, we see that the user is definately in a cubicle, but the office lights are out, and a large RED LED clock is to the left, showing the time, 7:24 P.M.

Camera continues panning out, we exit the office enviroment out through the window, showing a silhouette of the user, then the building as a whole against a city background.

Rapid fade to white.

On screen text fade in (rapid fade-in): (something catchy that a script writer would come up with, any and all suggestions would be appreciated) An example would be: Linux, the ability to do whatever you want, whenever you want to.

Rapid fade to white.

Penguin logo fading in. Bottom of logo shows a short list of BIG name companies who support Linux. List would most likely consist of these names: IBM, Compaq, SGI, Dell, Toshiba, Corel, Computer Associates, RedHat, VA Research, Caldera, Pacific HiTech and any other supporting companies that would have a contribution towards this commercial (yes, it would be advertisement for them to have their name at the end of the commercial).

So, who wants to finance and produce this commercial, any corporate takers?

Richard lives with his family in the midwest, loves working on classic muscle cars in his spare time and dreams of owning his own Krispy Kreme doughnut franchise.