What Super Bowl Ads Say About Us

by Michael on February 8, 2010 · 2 comments

The only thing any Super Bowl ad made me want to get: a copy of National Lampoon's Vacation.

From Woot, purveyors of single-day, single-item deals and the legendary Bag o’ Crap, comes an amazingly perceptive blog post:

Commercials don’t just come out of thin air, y’know. A lot of time, thought, and money goes into distilling an advertiser’s product into the perfect message that resonates with you, the 18-25 year-old male with disposable income. And lots of research has shown that the message that resonates most is the one that makes you think, “I’m just like that guy.”

So with that mind, what did Sunday’s big ad-stravaganza say about how advertisers see you?

It’s true (except the demographic is 18-35, which makes it look even sillier). The much-awaited Super Bowl ads have by now been rendered into a formula:

Male Stereotype + At Least One Special Effect + At Least One Laugh at the Guy’s Expense = $ale$.

It wouldn’t be so bad if guys didn’t take this stuff to heart. Frat brothers act out the beer commercials in spades (and even drink the crap disguised as beer that’s featured in them). The guy going clothes shopping with his girl doesn’t think “what kind of hot clothes can I steer her into wearing?” but “gee, I really must be whipped!” And I can guarantee you that despite the fact that we know there’s not going to be any actual porn on the GoDaddy site, every year their servers almost collapse from an avalanche of guys wanting to “see more.” (Spoiler: the chick who exposed her GoDaddy undershirt dances around for a minute and then there’s some “humorous” punchline. Seriously, they’ve been doing this for years, you’d think guys would learn.)

Not one of these ads has anything to do with being a man. Wait, I take it back. The Coke ad where Mr. Burns goes bankrupt, but the citizens of Springfield hand him a Coke and make him feel like he’s a valued part of the community—that has a lot to do with feeling like a man.

I’m not saying some of them aren’t very funny, but don’t tell me I was the only one hoping Gene Simmons’ son would come out and slap his dad for thinking midgets were a good idea in that Cherry Dr. Pepper commercial. That would have been funny.

Anyway, read the blog post and see if you don’t nod in agreement. If you don’t, let me know.

What Super Bowl Commercials Say About You [Woot!]

2 comments… read them below or add one

Steven | The Emotion Machine February 10, 2010 at 7:37 am

It is always interesting to see the give-and-take between people and culture. Super Bowl ads do reflect some sort of truth to reality (even if it is subtle), but they also change our beliefs too, which then creates a feedback system that can foster a really weak-minded and self-deprecating society.

Good post!


Michael February 11, 2010 at 1:10 am

That is truth, Steven. Politics shows us that such a feedback loop can be very powerful indeed. It takes presence of mind and critical thinking to step outside of it. Thanks for sharing!

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