There is no doubt that Super Bowl is popular, and for many reasons, among which it represents an aspect of a free democratic society.And, most cleverly, how the products we consume are alleged to represent our “freedom”. It reflects a great deal about who exactly is the American male and what he aspires to be. In effect, it reinforces the notion of patriarchal male dominated society and all its attendant racism, militarism and consumerism sweetly packaged under the rubric of humor. This year was no different; and Groupon was the elected scapegoat to be pilloried; although the criticism is muted and narrow with no one questioning the insidious way markets work and the impact of monopoly or oligopoly pricing. Whether the Super Bowl commercials are attacked and on what basis, though justified, they are nonetheless a recurrent theme the other 364 days of the year.
Where did it all begin. Edgar Bernays was the real pioneer of modern marketing; he was a psychologist and philosopher of promotion, and it was probably that philosophical quality, evident in his writings and speeches, as well as the sheer exuberant creativity and intelligence of his publicity blitzes, which enabled him to impart to his own efforts and to the field more generally a sense of stature, scope and profundity, based on the notion that what you sell is an idea, something intangible of which the product is just a symbol.
“The belief that propaganda and news were legitimate tools of his business, and his ability to offer philosophical justifications for these beliefs that ultimately embraced the whole democratic way of life, in Bernays’ mind set his work in public relations apart from what ad men did. The Bernays essays A Public Relations Counsel States His Views (1927) and This Business of Propaganda (1928) show that Bernays regarded advertising men as special pleaders, merely paid to persuade people to accept an idea or commodity. The public relations counsel, on the other hand, he saw as an Emersonian-like creator of events that dramatized new concepts and perceptions, and even influenced the actions of leaders and groups in society.” Read More: http://lcweb2.loc.gov:8081/ammem/amrlhtml/inadvert.html
From the 2010 Super Bowl: “…In addition to the gratuitous sexual content, this year’s crop of advertisements managed to depict some women in an antagonistic manner featuring a number of ads portraying men attempting to appease their overbearing girlfriends. There was also an astonishing lack of minorities featured as main characters in the advertisements. Of the 67 ads, only four featured a person of color in the lead role, and all were male…Another popular theme in this year’s Super Bowl commercials line‐up was of the apparent misery that women afflict on their men. This is easily noticed in commercials such as Dodge’s “Man’s Last Stand,” Bud Light’s “Book Club,” and Flo TV’s “Injury Report.” The latter was a desperate portrayal of a man whose “spine was removed by his girlfriend” as he shopped for lavender candles instead of watching the game. If he would simply purchase Flo TV’s personal television he could “change out of that skirt” as the narrator (Jim Nantz) passionately bemoans.Read More: http://www.ncasports.org/Articles/MadisonAvenuePR.pdf
The good news for Groupon is is that LivingSocial, Groupon’s main competitor, probably didn’t do itself any favors either. It’s ad, which sees its main character eventually in drag, may not have been as tasteless, but it certainly didn’t make me want to be a LivingSocial customer….This ad is in the current mode of “our customers are stupid” currently favored by ad agencies. You see lots of these kinds of ads, from the Doritos pug ad, to Pepsi Max ad where the people shown are just plain mean and unlikable. Ad agencies continue to say in their client’s ads “if you use this product you are an idiot!” read more: http://talkingnewmedia.blogspot.com/2011/02/groupon-goes-epic-in-its-failed-attempt.html
Why are Superbowl commercials, hailed for their creativity, often so casually sexist, racist, and homophobic? Credit the watchful eye of the CBS Standards and Practices department, which ensures that Superbowl ads bring in millions of viewers looking to be shocked—without offending their delicate sensibilities.
To achieve this difficult balance, ad makers are forced to play within a very small range of acceptably “outrageous” topics. Since casual sexism, racism, and homophobia are main sources of shock-jock humor—and since these attitudes are too pervasive to inspire true outrage in the average American—companies compete to put the most creative twist on the lazy stereotyping without going too far off the deep end. And so: CBS bans an ad that shows two gay men kissing, but greenlights several commercials that play off “gay” stuff for laughs. It bans an ad that shows a guy’s head up his own ass, but lets fly a commercial that makes fun of those silly, backward South Asians who answer your tech support calls (racism: officially less controversial than asses). Even the advertisement decried as the most “controversial” of the evening—college football superstar Tim Tebow’s antiabortion ad—concluded not with a politically controversial rallying call for life, but with Tebow totally sacking his own mother. That’s gotta sting! Read More: http://www.chicagoreader.com/TheBlog/archives/2010/02/08/why-superbowl-ads-are-so-racist-sexist-and-homophobic
Noam Chomsky on Edgar Bernays: These new techniques of regimentation of minds, he said, had to be used by the intelligent minorities in order to make sure that the slobs stay on the right course. We can do it now because we have these new techniques.
This is the main manual of the public relations industry. Bernays is kind of the guru. He was an authentic Roosevelt/Kennedy liberal. He also engineered the public relations effort behind the U.S.-backed coup which overthrew the democratic government of Guatemala.
His major coup, the one that really propelled him into fame in the late 1920s, was getting women to smoke. Women didn’t smoke in those days and he ran huge campaigns for Chesterfield. You know all the techniques—models and movie stars with cigarettes coming out of their mouths and that kind of thing. He got enormous praise for that. So he became a leading figure of the industry, and his book was the real manual. Read More: http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/bernprop.html