Super Bowl ads, while known for the dollars expended and eyes tuned in, are not known for their intellectual heft. But they’ve become increasingly misogynistic in recent years – not to mention racist, homophobic, and exhibiting other types of downright nastiness. A number of them have been so bad they didn’t make it to prime time. Some advertisers feel that the best laughs come from portraying women in stereotypical and demeaning roles. What better way to make us pay attention than to put women’s dignity in the punchline?
Last year’s were particularly bad, so blogger Amanda Hess looked into what might be driving this trend. She found that CBS’s Standards and Practices office was the one greenlighting and derailing ads with strange criteria. The ads are all of course going to try to out-shock each other to grab the attention span of millions of Americans – so it was the department’s duty to decide what went too far. She notes that “ad-makers are forced to play within a very small range of acceptably ‘outrageous’ topics,” and it’s the more subtle discrimination of jock humor that got through, while outright sex was banned. Which meant that some questionable material made it through the leaky sieve.
But the good news is that last year’s offense-o-fest didn’t pan out quite like those ad makers had hoped: the worst offenders also fared the worst when it came to ratings and negative reactions. The most misogynistic ads barely registered as the best-reviewed and most buzzed about, reported Jezebel’s Irin Carmon. No one was loling over them on social media – in fact, they got the most negative responses.
Did the ad industry learn its lesson this year? The sexism was perhaps toned down and less widespread, but some companies couldn’t help themselves. Here are this year’s top ten offenders:
#1: Pepsi Max
Message: Women are jealous and controlling!
Pepsi’s marketing team clearly had a pre-Super Bowl meeting and decided “You know what sells? Stereotypical women!” After taking everything away from him that he wants, this man’s partner chucks a can at his head for looking at another woman. But it all works out when she nails the jogger and they run off hand in hand, all forgotten in the violent act. No problem!
Message: Women want marriage and babies. Men want sex and soda. (We’re not sure in what order).
While this woman at least gets to have a more nuanced inner monologue than the man (and somehow infiltrate his mind, because woman are just that controlling), all she can think about is their future together on what is presumably a first date. And when his obsessing over sex is interrupted by a soda and he’s told he can’t have one of those things, we’re left wondering: which is he more upset about losing? We may never know! His monosyllabic brain can’t explain.
#2: Go Daddy
Message: Smart women are only good for their bodies. Except if they’re old. Ew.
Go Daddy already made a mark for itself last year in winning the sexismfest, so it wasn’t shocking to see them at it again. While they only want her for hot bod, spokeswoman Danica Patrick has placed higher than any woman in an Indy 500. As if it weren’t enough to display women with real talents as only worthwhile for their body parts, all the hooting and hollering comes to an abrupt stop when the sexy new spokesperson is revealed to be Joan Rivers. Because god help us if we have to look at women over the age of 14!
Message: Even if you don’t want to strip down to shill a product, you have to if “contractually obligated.”
Gross. But maybe those two women are wearing knee length skirts and turtle necks with their stilettos? You can’t know unless you go to their site. Which may or may not contain pornography, judging from this ad.
Message: Men crying and wearing dresses is crazy and hilarious!
While I’m very happy LivingSocial seems to have helped this man embrace himself as a transsexual, the ad’s humor rests on the assumption that its audience will find a high-heeled man doing yoga hysterical. Not to mention that a man who cries clearly has been altered in some way. Women do the craziest things, don’t they?
#4: Mini Cooper
Message: Yay anal sex?
Mini Cooper has created a new game show: Cram it in the Boot! In case the innuendo passed you by, some sexy women in short sparkly dresses are around to make cramming motions and show you their butts. Not to mention some of the phallic objects he shoves in the trunk. Guess any kind of sex sells.
Message: Men don’t have emotions, they just love boobs.
While this pathetic young man, who is so far from being in touch with his feelings he can only access his penis, is perhaps the butt of this joke, it relies on a view of women as just their breasts. Faith Hill, acting alongside him, doesn’t encourage him to come up with anything better – because we all know he’s not capable of higher thoughts.
Message: Knocking a woman on the ground: very funny.
After body checking Betty White last year, Snickers continued its violent streak by slamming Roseanne Barr with a log. The other actor in the ad, Richard Lewis, remains unharmed. Violence against woman – hilarious, right?
#7: Stella Artois
Message: Women weep for men they don’t know, but those men only have eyes for beer.
No one comes out looking good in this ad. Following Pepsi Max’s lead in substituting drinks for women, Adrian Brody would much rather a foamy beer than deal with any of those weepy chicks. A girl’s not worth more than a six dollar drink anyway, amiright?
Message: Nothing goes better in an ad than a hot chick.
A mockery of inane male brainstorming? Or a reflection of what it’s really like when ad execs get in a room to make a car commercial? Either way, they’ve answered the age-old question: redheads are hottest. Especially when they’re teachers. Very enlightened.
#9: Lipton Brisk
Message: Ugly women: out. Hot women: in.
“First we need some hot chicks,” Eminem starts out. For their brilliant ideas on how to make a great music video, right? Too bad the girls his claymation alter ego picks don’t get any lines.
#10: Best Buy
Message: Attacking a man’s masculinity is the best way to take him down.
Best Buy almost got through this ad without registering on the misog-o-meter, until someone in Ozzy’s cohort gets back at Justin Beiber by remarking that he looks like a girl. The world’s worst insult, to be compared to a lady! Burn.