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DId You See What I Saw?

(Note: I can't get the links to appear consistently with Google's new editor. If it's brief and boldfaced, you can click on it and "go" somewhere interesting!)

It's been at least 20 years since I've watched a Super Bowl Game, and Super Bowl 45 was definitely worth watching--a classic game between good teams.What I saw between plays, however, was anything but good. The best word to describe the Super Bowl commercials is: horrifying. (Volkswagen's little Darth Vader spot and BMW's commercial about Spartanburg were clear exceptions.) 

In ads for Pepsi Max people get smashed in the head with a full can, and a man is hit in the testicles and other body parts by cans someone catapults from a can-throwing machine at a party.  Insurance company Safe Auto shows a man being kicked, hit, and assaulted--again with more shots targeted at his genitals. Career Builder's commercial introduces us to a man in a car pulling into a parking lot. His car is bashed in on one side by driving monkeys, and before he can open the passenger door, another set of driving monkeys bashes in the other side.  Would watching a school teacher drive her red Camaro off a building and into her school's parking lot inspire you to buy that car for your son or daughter?  Perhaps the worst is the Snickers commercial, set at a logging camp, where a swinging log rams Roseanne Barr in her thoracic region and drives her to the ground. Had that occurred in "real" life, she'd be disabled or dead.

The Doritos commercials are deranged.  A red-haired man teases a pug with a Dorito, the pug jumps at a glass door, unhinges it, and crushes the man beneath the door. Man's girlfriend sits on couch, and man's best friend snuggles with the bright red Doritos bag. Even more à la derange, however, was the finger-sucking, pants-sniffing Doritos commercial. It inescapably looked like they were trying to promote Doritos as a substitute for cocaine.

Of course, there was sexual content, too.  Sign up for Social Living, and perhaps you, too, can turn into a transvestite / transgendered and happier person.  Or have a stare at the GoDaddy girls--you can see more online, because they can't put the full-fleshed commercial on television.  If that doesn't do it for you, there's Kim Kardashian's perfect behind to gaze upon in a commercial for butt-firming shoes. 

You can see all the commercials, and even vote for or against them at Fox Sports.  You can also vote on some of the commercials in just seconds at the CBS Website. I hope you will do this. We need to send a message to these companies and their advertising agencies. According to The Hollywood Reporter: "TV viewers love watching comedian Roseanne get knocked silly by a giant log." If you think this makes for bad advertising, for adults and especially for children and teens, then you need to let advertisers know that one TiVo survey does not consenus make.

We've had quite a debate about civility after the shooting in Tucson that killed six innocent people and forever altered the life of Gabrielle Giffords. Then, for entertainment and persuasion, we see people assaulted with drink cans, a woman kick a man in the "nuts," a woman rammed with a tree, and a man sucking Dorito powder up his nose. There is nothing civil about any of this. These commercial messages don't meet and often violate William Menninger's Seven Criteria of Emotional Maturity, often seen as the foundation for determining what, exactly, constitutes mental health.

I've worked in the advertising and marketing world for more than 25 years. You can be creative and engender significant sales without resorting to perversion. You can indeed get people's attention with fun, clean, and healthy creative.  The Volkswagen commercial is the best example of this from this year's Super Bowl crop. At least, it appears to me that "no humans were injured" in its filming. Also, check out Clean-Cut Media's thoughtful blog.
You can also lose business from violent, sexist commercials. I was never a big Doritos customer, but I certainly won't buy any until those ads change. And I will talk to friends and family about not buying any. I 've been a GoDaddy customer for years, but last night, watching their commercial, I thought, "It's more of the same old sexist approach." It will take time for me to shift my business from GoDaddy, but I'm looking at how best to do that today. I'm not going to check out Social Living--ever, and I will not consider an Audi purchase as long as they run commercials targeted at those "poor prisoners of luxury."

PLEASE VOTE HERE. Let advertisers know it's a crime to spend up to $3 million per 30 seconds for these idiotic dramas in an economy where hundreds of thousands are unemployed, uninsured, and have to go to charity food banks to feed their families. And  praise the ones who did a good job. They need to hear from us, too.

In the meantime, watch what you eat, watch how you drive, and above all, watch what you watch!


Anonymous said…
Hello Ysabel,

Allow and pardon me for my speedy introduction. I am a small business owner, full-time student, and Graphic Designer who was born in Northern California and now lives and works in the great state of Idaho, U.S.A. I came from an Irish-Scottish working-class family and am only the second member (including extended family) to go to college and get a degree. Not to boast, but aside from fathering two beautiful daughters, this is one of my few great accomplishments.
I've often asked myself, "How far is too far," when it comes to advertising. I typically gauge my answer on an ad to ad basis, regarding where and when its showed, and how far it pushes the boundaries. In my 38 years, some of which I have spent in front of advertising. I have seen a slow but steady decline in morality. Is this alarming? Yes and no. Yes, because it shows our tolerance to to this decline unabated, and no because with the growing technologies or total absence there of, a responsible parent can shield their child from the exposure of edgy advertising (such as using locking devices or no T.V. at all.) I understand this sounds unrealistic, but the fact that these are available, still rings true.
I do however feel that it should be an advertisers top priority, to think of society and how his/her material can influence it. One can not always just use the worn out excuse of, "It's just Hollywood." There needs to be more accountability than that.
This is not just a problem caused by and facing America, its a problem caused by and facing the world.
Another accomplishment I'm proud of is that I have only put out material that is good and wholesome, and doesn't compromise the community. This helps me sleep at night, and thank God I'm not the only one out there who feels this way.
Thanks for your blog, and letting me chime in. God Bless you Ysabel.

Chad Carroll
Black Ball Design
Chad, thanks so much for your comment and sharing your thoughts. We have let a lot of unhealthy developments go on in our culture while we say "It's just Hollywood." While parents and grandparents can do their best to monitor the home environment, it is increasingly difficult to protect our children in the outside world--where there are no controls. I have been in many public places where there are families and children where there are also big-screen televisions broadcasting messages that parents would not want their children to be exposed to--but the environment is beyond their control. I agree with you that advertising can really be a service, even while it can also be fun and engaging. And those of us who have worked and still work in this industry need to help make that happen. Best wishes in all your endeavors and blessings to you and yours. Ysabel
Anonymous said…

That's almost exactly what my instructors say, ha ha. Thanks for again pointing that out, and not picking on me about my typos! Got to work on that! Thanks for your insight. I will follow your blog again in the near future, and pass the word to my fellow students.

Until next time,
Chad Carroll
Black Ball Design

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