Commercial Recap: #SB48

Like many others, I spent a good chunk of my Sunday evening eating really good food and tuning in to my first football game of the season. After very scientifically using my baby’s preference for one of two toys set out in front of her on the living room floor to pick my team, I happily cheered for this year’s champions. Go Seattle! Also like many others, I settled in to consume some very expensive media. For your reading pleasure, I now offer my feminist recap of commercials from Super Bowl Weekend.

#DidntMaketheCut but #MadeMyCut

First, I am very pleased to share that orgs and activists who can’t afford to purchase air time during the big game still gave it a whirl. My favorite commercial from this weekend was one that you wouldn’t have seen on the air, but that made a lasting impression. From the National Congress of American Indians, it will blow you away, and hopefully change some minds and hearts in the process.


During the game the twitterverse shared their reactions to the commercials using hashtags. If you thought a commercial got it right, represented ideas and values that you could get behind, and probably made you smile in the process, you gave it a thumbs-up with #MediaWeLike. Cheerios picked up some major racist flack for featuring a biracial family in an ad. So what did they do? Brought them back for the Big Game! And come on people. How cute is Gracie?! This wasn’t the only commercial either. The general tone that I saw from folks practicing critical media literacy this year was that they thought lots of advertisers picked up on the #NotBuyingIt message from last year and really cleaned up their acts.


But, for every company that “got it right” there were still two that didn’t get the message. So there were still a whole lot of #NotBuyingIt reactions. Overall, I felt that the tone of #SB48 advertising was heteronormative, gender-biased, and very White.

So far the ads aren't so degrading to women...women are just absent.Good thing we don't buy sodas, snack foods, or cars. #52% #NotBuyingIt

— Heather Arnet (@heatherarnet) February 2, 2014

.@BudLight featuring Ah-nuld calling a guy a "little girl" bc he can't play sports. #NotBuyingIt

— Rebecca Eisenberg (@ryeisenberg) February 3, 2014

I think we can do better! Let’s hope for a #MediaWeLike: #NotBuyingIt ratio of 2:1 for next year.

#LoveHate, #Torn, & #AlmostThere

Some ads were trying so hard to get it right, but didn’t quite make it in my opinion. I had to create an “Other” category to cover some of them, and would love to keep the conversation going about them. First, there was the car commercial about a caring and attentive dad who swooped in to save his son from destruction. Love the caring and attentive dad part, got annoyed when ultimately they portrayed a teenage boy not being able to control his urge to give a pretty girl a once over while driving a car. I give Hyundai an #AlmostThere.

Then, there was Chevy. The first one I saw was titled Bovine Romance, and left something (many things) to be desired. Men drive trucks, women are cows just waiting for the right stud the make his way into their lives. Then the next Chevy ad was about hope, healing, and support in honor of World Cancer Day. What can I say, I liked it. #Torn.

This brings me to Coca-Cola. Their America the Beautiful ad made an effort to incorporate the diversity and multiculturalism that the United States is made of and proud of. There was some interesting response to this ad, ranging from happy reactions (#AmericaIsBeautiful) to outraged backlash to an ad about the United States that featured 8 languages. This commercial is fascinating, and the response even more so. First of all, I liked the commercial. That said, I don’t think a well-made commercial negates the fact that Coke routinely exploits people and resources around the world.

Second, can we talk about the #SpeakAmerican twitterstorm?? It started out as racist, bigoted commentary on the fact that the ad featured multiple languages, identities, and cultures. It grew into pointed commentary on the cultural appropriation and exploitation of Native Americans. There was smart commentary on calling America a nation of immigrants. Liked the ad. Hate the company’s practices. Love the conversations that grew out of it. #LoveHate.

What did you think of the #SB48 ads? Were you #NotBuyingIt? Was there #MediaWeLike mixed in? Do you have a #LoveHate relationship with some of them?

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