Advertising Fails Sex During Superbowl (Again)
February 3, 2013
You would think that given how much advertising seems to depend on sex to sell things that it would be in the industry’s interest to try to get sex right, or at least be sensitive to sex-related issues that have powerfully impacted the national consciousness. Is the inability to create ads that portray sex and desire decently the result of an industry in dire need of fresh blood, or is it that advertisers are showing an increased interest in exploiting hot topics to get more “engagement” out of their ads? We have no answers for you, but we do have a collection of Superbowl ads that really, really annoyed us.
You Can’t Be Smart And Pretty At Once
Here’s a stereotype we want to see die an immediate death: that smart people can’t be pretty and pretty people can’t be smart. That’s essentially what GoDaddy tells us when Danica Patrick introduces us to model Bar Refaeli and a glasses-wearing, blotchy genius who appears to be half her height and three times her weight. To prove how well sexy and genius get along, GoDaddy treats us to an awkward kiss between the two which is complete devoid of sexual tension, passion or appeal. In fact, it’s gross. It goes out of its way to be gross.
This really isn’t the “yay, nerds get to have some love too!” moment we’ve been waiting for. This is a reminder that if you’re a nerd, you’re Other, unpretty and so painfully awkward that you couldn’t properly kiss the person of your dreams even if GoDaddy handed him or her to you.
As far as women in STEM go, this ad perpetuates the idea that being attractive trivializes your work and your worth to the scientific community.
This ad really needs to go die a painful and slow death.
Sexual Harassment Is Funny If A Girl Does It
This commercial from Best Buy features Saturday Night Live‘s Amy Poehler being her funny self. Except it’s not really that funny. It’s one thing to joke about a “dongle” but there is nothing funny about the awkward, uncomfortable look of disbelief on the young Best Buy employee’s face when Poehler asks whether he might read an erotic book in a sexy voice to her. This is what sexual harassment looks like. If you can’t see it, think about an older man delivering the same line to a twenty-something girl in that Best Buy uniform. See it now?
Putting the sexy into situations where someone has power over someone else (in this case, “the customer is always right” is a power, especially over a low-level employee) is dangerous because it runs the risk of implying coercion. And that just kills the sexy before it can even take its first breath. Avoid it ad people. It’s not sexy. It’s not clever. It’s just awkward.
Bravery And Assault Aren’t That Different
Poor kid doesn’t have a date to prom. But he has daddy’s Audi and it’s such a cool ride that he’s going to march into the gym and kiss the prom queen like he’s da man.
Here’s problem with this: it’s not okay to kiss or grab or do anything with people who don’t want to do it with you. It’s not. Now, we’re not saying you should ask permission when you’re dropping off your date before you kiss her. But there is being aware of nonverbal cues — that joyous pause at the door, the meeting of the eyes! — and then there’s walking up to someone and just kissing them.
We get no indication that the prom queen knows this fellow or wants this until the end of the ad when she is shown staring dreamily into space. But this is after the kiss and after her boyfriend pounds the kid who kissed her. Basically, the kid ignores whether she wants it or not because he wants it and he has an Audi so he gets to have it, damn it, and then the prom king boyfriend ignores that the prom queen liked it because she’s his, damn it, and he’s going to defend his turf.
If this is brave … we’re never leaving our apartments.