The 2011 Super Bowl was the most-watched program in American television history, and 2012′s is primed to break the record with legal streaming to computers and mobile devices allowed for the first time. In this way, the Super Bowl stands as a massive snapshot of the cultural moment in America. Given this, the 2012 Super Bowl had one massive topic in mind: manufacturing, specifically in America.

10% of ads directly mentioned ‘manufacturing’ in word and/or imagery. Although this was expected in GE and automotive commercials, even the first ad of the evening, for Bud Light Platinum, used the visual of a beer being “created” in a factory-like assembly line. No humans are shown, but the visuals and title (“Factory”) clearly indicate a focus on manufacturing in the larger cultural sphere.
More directly, a Chrysler advertisement starring Clint Eastwood entitled “Halftime in America” is entirely made-up of a monologue describing the unemployment crisis and Detroit’s struggles in the manufacturing sector being extended to the country at large. The advertisement is striking for several reasons. Firstly, its placement immediately following the end of the first half and before the halftime show is a prime spot for viewers. Also, in terms of content, the video only features a serious monologue, delivered by an equally serious actor, accompanied by dramatic orchestral music and images of American and factories. With Super Bowl advertisements mostly known for their large budgets, cameos, and relatively silly tone, this ad stood out in very stark contrast, demanding viewer attention.

While there were plenty of the Super Bowl standard-fare featuring celebrities, humor, iconic logos and mascots, the increase in the cultural awareness and focus on manufacturing, job-creation, and the American economy at large has never been higher. When serious messages and expensive airtime is devoted to this serious image during a completely leisure activity like the Super Bowl, the apparent message is that the issue is so prominent, it is affecting every area of American’s lives, personally and culturally.