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Super Bowl 2012: More violent, sexist ads

By Rita R. Robison

Ads during Sunday’s Super Bowl cost $3.5 million for a 30-second spot, up from last year's $2.7 million.

Although the 2012 offerings seemed to have fewer ads where people were slapped or knocked down, the display again was marred by violent images.

Do advertisers and public relations firms think it’s acceptable to show ads depicting violence and sexism, where people head butted and bikini-clad women are shown because mostly men watch football?

Here are my awards for the worst ads airing during this year’s Super Bowl:

Unnecessary violence:

Dannon thinks it will sell yogurt by having a woman head butt a man, knocking him to the floor, after he won’t share the container of yogurt. In a Doritos ad, a man suspects his dog of killing and burying the family cat. The dog gives him a bag of Doritos to keep it quiet. The Voice stars think by fighting, breaking things, blasting out a wall, and having Betty White say a few words, you’ll watch their TV show. A sexy woman slaps a man, speaks in Spanish, whispers in his ear, dabs foam from a latte on a his lips, then it all melts away into the first time sensations of buying a Fiat 500.

Silliest: showed us a man so confident about researching cars on that he’s grown an appendage with his head on it that comes out of his back. It’s his “confidence,” singing happily about the car in a high voice. Coke’s polar bear ads, one featuring a bear trying to keep the Coke away from the other bears, seemed silly. You have the best minds in the country working on these ads. Couldn’t they have come up with something meaningful? I also thought the Chevy Sonic ad was silly, with a car skydiving and bungee jumping. Bud Light focused on the silly again this year, with a dog fetching beer from the refrigerator and other places, attracting women along the way.

Instead of violent Snickers ads showing Betty White being tackled in a backyard football game during or Roseanne Barr being downed by a huge log, Mars made a big deal this year about introducing a new M&M with a chocolate colored shell, Ms. Brown. A partygoer accused her of being naked, and Mr. Red whipped off his shell.

Most sexist:  

Teleflora may have hit an all time low with a sexy woman getting dressed, then saying through red-pursed lips, “Give and you shall receive.” Go takes two guys to the “cloud” populated with scantily clad women. The McLendon Hardware offering shows a father giving advice to his son before his wedding. It sounds like it’s going to be sexual information about what he should learn to do to please his wife, but instead it’s about getting good tools. In “A Dream Car for Life,” Kia uses a scantily clad flag girl and fills the stands bikini clad women. H&M spent 30 seconds slowly moving over David Beckham’s tattooed body, and briefly, his briefs.

Most irritating:

GE’s offered several ads to pump up the company’s image. If GE was going to spend that kind of money, they should have thought of something interesting.

Unfortunately, the Super Bowl featured ad after ad for violent movies, which along with the violent ads and player clashes, added to the overemphasis on violence. Among the movies advertised were “John Carter,” “Star Wars – Episode 1 in 3-D,” “The Avengers,” “G.I. Joe,” and “Act of Valor.”

For more information on the best and worse Super Bowl ads, see The Wall Street Journal’s “Super Bowl Ads 2012.” To vote for your favorite ads, go to NBC Sports Network’s “Super Bowl Admeter.”

Copyright 2012, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist


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