Brewskis, butt jokes and reefer madness
This year’s Super Bowl ads reflect a depressed nation: We need jobs, our animals don’t talk anymore and we’re terrified of big butts and bad drugs. How ’bout a beer?
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By Carina Chocano
If Super Bowl ads express the collective male mood, then this year they were like a monosyllabic grunt. Pepsi traded Britney for Ozzy. Honda featured boys who didn’t but said they did. Chrysler — in a move apparently calculated to have the same effect as thinking about baseball — featured Celine Dion driving a big, van-like thing and singing. Dodge wooed us with a close-up of regurgitated beef jerky. Anheuser-Busch achieved near-hegemony with a series of disjointed ads that ranged from gross to goofy to glazed and defeated. Aside from Coors’ suggestion that everybody just fast-forward to the booby portion of the familiar “twins” ad (and remember to thank the remote), sex was mostly just that thing blocking the TV.
Is it weird that the bad butt jokes outnumbered the bikinis? I don’t know. But between the rueful financial services ads, the wistful, down-to-earth job-board commercials, the histrionic, “Reefer Madness”-style public service announcements and the triumph of the beer-for-beer’s-sake ethos, a weirdly dispirited message emerged: Get a job, any job, because the fact that your stock portfolio sucks doesn’t mean you won’t be audited at any minute. So don’t smoke, don’t do drugs and – buddy, you look like you could use a beer!
Several advertising trends emerged last night, although it’s unclear exactly why. They went something like this:
When making a cultural reference, make sure it’s outdated and/or irrelevant.
Two ads borrowed heavily from feature films long-since available on video. An anti-drug public service announcement paid homage to the 1999 ghost thriller, “The Sixth Sense,” and a FedEx spot resuscitated the 2000 Tom Hanks one-man show “Cast Away.” Not to be outdated, a third commercial, for AT&T’s mLife, exhumed the 1964 hit show, “Gilligan’s Island.” Curiously, both the mLife spot and the FedEx spot riffed on the ways in which technology improves our lives. AT&T imagines what would have happened if Gilligan had owned a cell phone (he would have gotten off the island much sooner), and FedEx wonders what would have happened if the package the castaway neglected to open in the five years he was marooned had contained a satellite phone, a GPS locator, a water purifier and some seeds (he would have felt like an ass.)