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Super Bowl ads slightly improved this year, but violence, sexism, and ageism still being used to sell

Ads during Sunday’s Super Bowl cost $4 million for a 30-second spot, up from last year's $3.5 million. The game drew 111.5 million viewers.

I’m not a football fan, but since I live in the Seattle area, I enjoyed seeing the Seahawks playing and winning… big.

However, I wasn’t impressed – yet again – with the Super Bowl ads.


Advertisers seemed to have gotten the message that the majority of people who watch the Super Bowl are women. There were far fewer ads with scantily clad women. However, David Beckman was shown in his H&M underpants, getting locked out of a photo shoot then needing to do stunts to get to it. Is this progress?

And, in an Oikos ad for Greek yogurt, John Stamos drips some yogurt on his thigh and invites a woman to lick it off.

In the Sodastream ad, Scarlett Johansson rips off a robe to strut around and sexify the ad.

One improvement. gave up scantily clad women this year, but one of its ads did feature buff guys – and a buff woman – running to a support a small entrepreneur, a tanning salon. Go’s other ad, showed a real woman named Gwen, who quit her job as an engineer to start her own business in puppetry design and performance.


Although the 2014 offerings didn’t have ads where people were slapped or knocked down, the display again was marred by violent images.

Ad after ad of commercials for TV programs and movies made me wonder – yet again – how these ads can be shown to children. The promos for shows such as “The Following,” in which a serial killer exerts mind control on masses of people, were terrible.

These violent ads came up again and again: “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Pompeii,” and “Three Days to Kill.”

Along with all these violent images is the violence of the football game itself. At least, it’s finally being uncovered how dangerous the game is and how hundreds of players have suffered concussions and debilitating traumatic brain injuries.

Then there’s a violent ad to sell M&Ms, to whom? Kids? A mobster opens the trunk of his car and threatens and threatens and threatens the inhabitant, a peanut M&M. The M&M doesn’t understand the language and agrees to be eaten.


Steven Colbert is featured in a pistachio ad, then appears a short time later in another ad when sales for the nut haven’t gone up right away. In the second ad, Colbert’s head is transformed into the center of a cracked open pistachio. His green skull doesn’t look appetizing to me. Yuck.

Most irritating

The Scientology ad had vague promises of betterment. The organizations negatives are so well known, I found it surprising that it chose the Super Bowl to try to improve its image and gain recruits.


Tim Tebow’s ads about not having a contract like T-Mobile weren’t convincing to me.


Heinz offers an ageist ketchup ad. When a grandmother empties the Heinz squeeze-bottle, it makes a fart sound. Ha, ha.


I don’t believe that using cute puppies and patriotism to sell something or improve a company’s image is in the best interest of consumers. I’d rather see the price of consumer items reduced.

The Coca-Cola ad that featured a diverse group of people singing the national anthem in different languages such as English, French, and Hindi? Bob Dylan’s “tribute” to America for Chrysler? Budweiser welcoming a soldier home with a parade in his hometown? Budweiser’s Clydesdales and a puppy sidekick? I don’t think so.

See “After Watching the Super Bowl, Why Do I Always Feel Like I Need to Take a Shower” for more information.


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Tom Sightings

Well, you certainly seem unimpressed with the Superbowl ads . . . as was I, at least with the few I saw, since I only watched the first half because the game was over before it started. Plus ... I'm old school. I use TV ad breaks to go to the bathroom or run to the kitchen for a snack.

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