Ya, so there were a few commercials during the Super Bowl. They were pricey and they were the ads that managed to get past the censors (See: Super Bowl Ad Censorship: A Good Thing)
For the record, my favorite ad was the Chrysler commercial about Detroit. I am a Los Angeles snob and don’t really think too highly of Detroit and its failed auto companies (sorry, not a fan of the bailout). I didn’t think the ad was the kind of ad that would have people buzzing the next day. And it hasn’t But artistically, it was magnificent. The videography, the theme, the narration, the music, the gospel choir, it was amazing. (Video below)
And I will not be convinced otherwise so don’t even bother.
The ad that has generated the most buzz (overwhelmingly negative) was the ad for Groupon. The ad begins with some beautiful shots of Tibet and its people. The narrator has a serious tone and he is telling the viewer that Tibet’s people and rich culture are being seriously threatened. Suddenly, the narrator’s tone changes and he tells you that despite their suffering he is enjoying $30 of food at a Tibetan restaurant for $15 thanks to Groupon. (video below)
The backlash was intense and immediate. People were outraged at the insensitivity to the plight of the Tibetan people. Groupon’s ad was maligned. I too found it distasteful.
But when I thought about all the anger directed to Groupon for their ad which was insensitive I began to wonder about all the other ads which were also crude and insensitive.
So I took to Twitter and tweeted:
Amazing. More people are offended by Groupon’s ads than the coarse objectification of women in EVERY SINGLE OTHER AD!
— Eliyahu Fink (Eli) (@efink) February 7, 2011
Pretty quickly, the Tweet was garnering some serious attention. To date (24 hours later) it has been retweeted (What is a retweet?) using the native retweet feature 52 times by people who I do not know. It has been retweeted the old-fashioned way by dozens more. I had struck a chord.
In fact the tweet was even picked up by Read Write Web on their blog: Why Groupon’s Super Bowl Ad Was So Offensive (According to Technorati, RWW is the 12th ranked blog in the world.) Pretty cool! And I was flattered.
Anyway, what I meant by that tweet was not that the Groupon ad was not offensive. Nor did I mean to say that I took offense to all the other ads. It was an observation.
What rankles Super Bowl viewers? An obtuse and oblique use of Tibetan suffering in an attempt at humor offended way more people than the ads that directly objectify women as sex objects. I am not about to start a crusade to rescue women from men who behave and think like the figurative Frat Boy. (Although, maybe I should.) I am simply pointing out that collectively we don’t care enough that women are portrayed in such a one dimensional sense.
Apparently, a lot of you agree with me.
I find it shocking that many reasonable thinking men and nearly all women put up with this form of advertising. The Chrysler commercial mentioned above used none of the cheap parlor trick that the ads that objectify women used. It was effective because it was artistic and related to our more sophisticated faculties as opposed to the animalistic urges which the other ads appeal to.
Haven’t we come far enough as a society that ads which objectify women and portray men as single minded neanderthals are passé? Not yet?
Can we get there soon please?
Here is the Chrysler ad:
Here is the Groupon ad:
If you want to see ads objectifying women find ’em yourself…