The XX Factor

Go Big Or Go Home With Your Super Bowl Ads

Jessica , agreed on that terrible Pepsi Max ad.  I still have to wonder how much of the male audience for sports really believes that it’s worth it to play at being doofuses if it means they get to characterize women as marriage-and-money-grabbing monsters. I can’t imagine it’s as many as the advertisers think.  But it did seem this year that the overtly sexist ads were smaller in number than last year, so maybe marketers are beginning to clue in to the fact that Americans don’t like seeing themselves—or their intimate relationships—portrayed in such mean, unfunny terms.

That ad was probably the stupidest ad of the Super Bowl, but the most disappointing has to be the Sealy ad .  The commercial played at being risque, showing a variety of couples in a post-coital collapse in bed with the tag line,”Whatever you do in bed, Sealy supports it.”  Based on the images, however, “whatever” isn’t actually “whatever”—all the couples were straight, young, hot, seemingly nonkinky and seemingly all same-race.  A more accurate tag line for the images would be, “If your conservative grandparents and uptight network executives can approve of what you do in bed, Sealy supports it.”

That ad would have been exponentially more memorable and effective if it had shown couples that would cause a disapproval reaction in large parts of the audience, making the tag line daring instead of trite.  Imagine if there’d been not just a gay couple, but also a fat couple or an elderly couple or, of course, the ever-taboo interracial couple—anyone who would cause noses to wrinkle, from the prudes and the haters.  Then the tag would have been hilarious, and you’d see a million blog posts linking to it in the morning.  As of now, this is probably the only one that will.  I just hope Sealy didn’t pay too much for that ad.