30 second impact – commercials and the Superbowl

To me, the Superbowl is a day to enjoy awesome appetizers and good company. To be honest, the commercials are typically more entertaining to me than the game. (Catch me during the World Series, I’ll have a different story for you, football is just not my sport).

Anyway, I did have a few favorite commercials this year – the Chrysler ad Eminem starred in about Detroit was powerful. The Volkswagen commercial with the little Darth Vader was adorable.  I have to admit the Doritos house sitting commercial got me rolling when grandpa came back to life. And the Bridgestone “Carma” commercial with the beaver warmed my heart.

But then… there were the other commercials that made me shake my head in disgust.  Many Superbowl commercials are known for being violent and sexist. GoDaddy? Really? Thanks for leaving your “mature content” on the web. Their commercials basically consisted of women in short shorts, leather, and high heels. It must be pretty effective to focus in on a woman’s breasts when advertising the web address, huh?

Then I was confused as to how Eminem could have done such a great commercial, and then such a distasteful one for Brisk. “I get asked to do commercials all the time, and I always say the same thing. First, I need some hot chicks.” (Cue dancing claymation women in short dresses). And then singing a jingle about iced tea, where all the words are beeped out? Classy. And why not end it with throwing a guy off the top of a building?

Hmmm, how to even choose between Pepsi Max’s violent and/or sexist commercials? Did you see the one where a woman and man are on a first date? And what’s going through the man’s mind? “ I wanna sleep with her, I wanna sleep with her, I wanna sleep with her.” Or the one where a husband is sitting on a park bench with his wife drinking Pepsi Max, and a runner in pink running shorts sits down? Don’t get whiplash there, buddy.

What kind of affect do these commercials have on people? According to ISU Marketing professor Russell Laczniak, who co-authored a study called “Television Commercial Violence: Potential Effects on Children” kids who viewed violent ad content also had more aggressive thoughts, which can lead to more aggressive behavior.

The local TV station WHO interviewed a father who, while he was concerned about the violent commercials, was even more concerned about the sexual content. Laczniak suggests “co-viewing” commercials with your kids. Watching the commercials together and then talking about them.  It’s so easy for violent and sexist behavior to became second-nature, especially when we’re watching them on TV. But let’s watch carefully the messages the media is putting out to us, and make sure we’re not letting it get engrained into our minds as normal behavior.

I hope as the years continue, we get to watch more and more heart-warming, inspiring, and meaningful commercials. Something as simple as a bottle of coke bringing together enemies from opposite sides of the border.

-Amanda Martin

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About Margaret Sloss Women's Center - ISU

The Margaret Sloss Women's Center promotes equity on the Iowa State University campus. Through a feminist lens, the center advocates for individuals and groups; provides support, referrals, community and programming; and maintains a safe space in the Sloss House.

Posted on February 8, 2011, in Pop Culture, Sexism and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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