About nine years ago, my husband and I naively allowed two window salesmen into our home. Because we were enthusiastic first time home owners and also too polite and inexperienced to know how to turn them away, they pretty much held us captive for two hours while trying to sweet talk us into every possible upgrade for our home’s exterior, from energy windows to outdoor lighting to a new doorbell. Finally, they grew tired of me, and my pesky, prodding questions, and turned directly to my husband, imploring him to explain to me how many new shoes and purses I could buy with all the money we’d save if I would just go ahead and sign.
I figured out how to tell them to leave right after that.
Last night, while watching the Ravens-49ers match up in Super Bowl 2013, I felt like those guys had opened a window and climbed right back in.
Like many of you, I enjoy the advertising hype around Super Bowl. I wanted to see the “best of the best” of our country’s creative minds. I don’t mind being sold products if the advertisers are clever and honest. But last night, ad after ad left me feeling manipulated, degraded, and just plain sad.
In my house, the Super Bowl is a family event. My husband and I watch with our twelve year-old daughter and ten year-old son. In fact, statistics show that 16% of Super Bowl viewers are ages 2-18, and 46% of viewers are female. It’s not just a man’s event. Why then, do advertisers get away humiliating nearly half their audience?
Last night we learned that women:
- can’t be both smart and beautiful (Go Daddy),
- are inhuman and irrational (Kia),
- are sneaky disguised as stupid (Tide),
- are plain old stupid (Speed Stick)
- will let anything be done to them by a guy who drives a cool car (Audi, Mercedes, Fiat, etc.)
The list goes on, and on, and on…
But the spot that shone the brightest light on hypocrisy was the Kia Sorento “Space Babies” ad, in which a young family drives peacefully down the road when the son in the back seat suddenly asks his father “Where do babies come from?” From here, the father launches into a ridiculous tale about a planet in outer space where baby humans and animals alike are launched to earth to waiting families, blah, blah, blah, until the father works himself up so much he uses the Sorento’s AV package to distract the child with a Wheels on the Bus video.
This means Kia paid over four million dollars to tell me they’ll help me not talk to my kids about sex, on a program saturated with the most sexually demeaning ads I’ve ever seen, at an annual extravaganza law enforcement calls the single largest US sex trafficking event in the United States?
I’m not buying it.
On the flip side, Hyundai, thanks to your ad with the kids playing football, I’ll take two.