Let’s talk about advertising for a minute, shall we?
It seems that this time of year (cough, Super Bowl, cough) we all have MANY opinions on commercials, and it also seems that this time of year many companies bring out all their cliched trope of misogyny, and insist on using women and their bodies to sell stuff. Granted, there are usually also a handful of bright spots with some wit or a fresh angle that rise to the top, but truth of the matter is that the Super Bowl brings out the best and worst of the advertising world, and it also happens to be an event that vast numbers of people watch, even those (ahem) who don’t really care about Spots Ball (Go Team!), and even those who don’t particularly care for commercials.
So. Ads. Companies pay gajillions of dollars to tout their product during this sportsing event. And millions of people watch the game and the commercials and you can follow a running commentary on both on various channels of the Interwebs.
Here’s what: this is how advertising works. It creates a desire where one didn’t necessarily exist before, and then it somehow compels you to go out of your way to consume and satiate that desire. I worked in advertising for YEARS and I honestly have a really hard time with commercials, Super Sports or no. Mr. Blue Eyes won’t watch live TV with me because I tend to yell at the commercials and pick them apart, ranting about what the producer wants me to do or buy. I complain about the ridiculous cliches that help generate emotions and desire in a super condensed ad slot. I am ruthless in my critique, and I usually get all huffy and puffy, and Mr. Blue Eyes has to turn off the TV and bring me cold compresses for my forehead until my heart rate gets back to normal.
Irresponsible advertising–and I use that term loosely to encompass ads that exploit people in order to sell product–makes me super irritated. I don’t react well to be purposely manipulated by a phone company or a car company or a fast food company to convince me that they are the Super Best and I should go there to spend all my monies. The whole idea rankles me; the exploitation, the “clever” spin, the manipulation, the incessant repetition, the photoshopping for maximum effect, the all-too-common stereotypes, the misogyny, the unrealistic expectations…I mean, come on! (Also? Remind you of anything else that’s been going on of late?)
Throughout the sportsing Twitter and Facebook are alight with friends and strangers giving their two cents on whatever the refs are doing, and whatever the advertisers are saying/selling. You’ll see a TON of angst about certain companies, their commercials, their ad messaging, etc. You will see a number of complaints from parents about how they can’t believe how inappropriate the ads were for a family event, too dark, too scary, too sexy, too much. And I understand where they are coming from, for sure. But I am surprised at their surprise. I mean, truly, I am. This is how advertising works and it works REMARKABLY well in the United States. Think about that. Think about why. Consider how many things are “sponsored” and by whom and why. Am I promote a wholesale boycott? No. I am asking you to consider how and why XYZ company can spend millions of dollars on 30 seconds of advertising. What are they trying to get you, the consumer, to do, or to buy? Why? Then see if your values actually align what that thing, and if they do–great! And if they don’t, think carefully before whipping out your credit card.
That’s it. That’s my advertising rant. Just think about it.
P.S. I’m not mentioning any Super Sports Game commercials or companies because a) this post was written last week and b) I didn’t actually watch the game or the commercials.