Taking care of business

There are times in football when a running back or receiver busts loose, with nothing between him and the end zone but a smaller, lighter defensive back. The DB has a choice: 1) sacrifice his body any way he can to bring down the charging runner, or 2) half-heartedly grasp at an arm or leg in hopes of slowing him down or wrangling him toward the sideline. The second option, not uncommon, is what’s known as a “business decision.” A significant injury can derail a player’s season and possibly shorten a career that’s worth millions of dollars for each year it can continue. Why risk that to prevent one touchdown in a game that can turn on so many other plays?

I saw a lot of business decisions in Super Bowl 50, but not on the playing field. It happened in between the action, during the commercial breaks, when advertisers call out the big guns for their annual bonanza of the comical, the outlandish, and in some cases, the just plain bizarre. Seth Rogen and Amy Schumer shilled for Bud Light, Willem Dafoe channeled Marilyn Monroe for Snickers, and Steven Tyler was doing some sort of schtick for Skittles (I think?).

What prompted these A-listers, each well established in their respective fields, to take on these gigs? We can guess it has little or nothing to do with the quality of the product they’re selling. Perhaps the wheelbarrows of cash parked under their noses? Yes, there’s that, but beyond the sheer dollars, there’s the power of name recognition. In show business (there’s that word again), talent is part of the equation — and these people have it in spades — but if your name isn’t known out there, you may as well be nothing. Just ask Betty White, who revived her career for the umpteenth time with a Super Bowl commercial a few years back. Few people may remember what the ad was for (our old friend Snickers!), but she’s enjoyed plenty of legitimate success since then.

Dafoe, for instance, must be aware that film producers have to consider more than acting ability alone when casting roles. They need a name that will sell tickets (or DVDs or streams) off the marquee, so to speak. Had Will Smith, for instance, not taken the lead role in “Concussion,” would the movie currently be enjoying the company of Oscar heavyweights?

So guess what: Rogen, Schumer, Dafoe and Tyler all made business decisions. It’s likely Aerosmith saw a bump in downloads/streams in the days after Tyler’s Super Bowl spot. And maybe plans for a concert tour have a little more juice than they did a week ago. So who am I to judge? A cornerback opting to bail on a tackle may realize several additional years of million-dollar contracts. Even his coach may prefer having a healthy, effective player at that position long term rather than saving one stinkin’ touchdown in one stinkin’ game. That’s between them. The bottom line is that, more often than not, the business decisions people make are nobody’s business but theirs.


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