Monday, February 3, 2020

Super Bowl Ads: Detritus From a Cultural Wasteland

If you watched the Super Bowl for the commercials you wasted 4 hours of your life. Unless you’re a Millennial as that’s who they were made for and - I’d speculate – by. Since advertising, like bond trading, is notorious for being a young man’s (generic usage, no complaints please) game I think it’s safe to assume that most of yesterday’s ads were conceptualized and written by members of the millennial demographic. And if they are our future, gird your loins for a tedious ride. The $5.6 million for a 30 second spots were mediocre at best and dreadful at worst.

We were presented with a panoply of post-modern themes: technology idolatry, pop culture idolatry, gender neutrality/bending, diversity and, of course, climate concern.

Thus we got Google’s maudlin portrayal of a man remembering his dead wife with all his Google assisted memories, the magic of technology assisted self-parking cars (Hyundai) and Ellen DeGeneres and her partner - the other wife in the couple - Portia de Rossi, imagining what life was like before Alexa. Oh, and Facebook showing us how they can bring us all together with their Groups feature. Brought to you by the people who invented “unfriending.” Facebook is more than instrumental in assisting people in tearing the thin fabric of civility apart via internet “conversations” than Donald Trump.

Image result for facebook unfriending memes"Facebook, bringing people together since 2004

Nearly every ad included either some pop culture reference and/or persona. From Boomers Sam Elliot (Doritos) and Martin Scorsese (Coke) to Gen Xers Naomi Rider (Sqarespace),

Jimmy Fallon (Michelob Ultra) and Molly Ringwald - for some reason hawking Avocados from Mexico on a surreal Shopping Channel.

Image result for super bowl commercials 2020 avocados"

The rest featured Millennials who I gratefully don’t know.

There was T-Mobile showcasing Anthony Anderson (?) and his mama demonstrating how well their 5G network works – even when mama goes clubbing!

Rocket Mortgage revealing that superhero Jason Moama(?) aka Aquaman is in reality more like Jethro Tull’s Aqualung.

Image result for super bowl commercials 2020 budweiser"


The Millennial half of the Doritos commercial was Lil Nas X  who challenged Sam Eliott to some sort of old west dance-off.

Probably would have been funnier if I had even a fleeting hint of who Lil Nas is or his song Old Town Road. Even though they threw in the old Cowboy for good measure I’m clearly not their target audience.

Then there was the save-the-planet-by buying-an-electric-car theme: Audi used some star from Game of Thrones singing music from Frozen to promote theirs, Toyota Highlander showcased Cobie Smulders (?) rescuing people in trouble from a variety of stereotypical movie disaster scenarios. My favorite though had to be GM’s gutsy push for reintroducing a nameplate I thought had been deep-sixed forever: Hummer. Because nothing says “saving the planet” like a  big-assed all-terrain vehicle turned electric.

Image result for super bowl commercials 2020 GM hummer"

In the “diversity” category Budweiser takes first prize, presenting themselves as  the “Stereotype Smasher.” How brave of them.

And back to the gender-bending: Sabra  entertains us with a couple of drag queens - Kim Chi and Miz Cracker-  hawking their hummus dip. Makes me go hmmmmm but sure doesn’t make me hungry.

Lord, what a mess. I give the prize to Michaelob’s Ultra Pure Gold commercial “6 for 6-pack” ad. By promising “to help” transform 6 feet of farmland into “organic” for every 6-pack they sell they’ve managed to cram more BS and double-talk about caring for the planet and giving back - without you actually having to do anything other than buy their product - than anyone else in a minute spot.

There were plenty of other un-smart ads as well, including Snickers fixing the world by dropping a giant snickers into a giant hole – it could have worked, but it didn’t, Mr. Peanut’s funeral, Walmart’s delivery program…groaners all.

I did sort of enjoy the Bill Murray Jeep ad but it wasn’t great either.

Image result for super bowl commercials 2020 rocket mortgage"

Miss by an inch, miss by a mile.

So here’s to you liberalism: you’ve managed to replace comedy with farce and slap-stick, satire with ridicule, irony with cynicism and creativity with sequels and spin-offs. I fear I’m not woke enough to appreciate your ongoing contributions to culture.

If you still want to waste your time you can watch most of the SB commercials here.