So there was some big football game yesterday, and from what I understand, we now have a dynasty toward which we’re supposed to be patriotic. Or was that the election? Anyhoo, we all know that the important part of the Superbowl is not the game (unless the 49ers are involved, which is not likely to happen again soon). Rather, what matters are the commercials. As such, I didn’t bother to watch the game, but I did watch the commercials on IFILM.
This year’s batch were, to put it mildly, dumb. About the cleverest thing going was FedEx’s deconstruction of the Superbowl ad, and it wasn’t that clever. The GoDaddy.com series, featuring a big-boobed bimbo shaking her thing at some kind of Congressional-type hearing on GoDaddy’s ad campaign, was just embarrassing — as smart and sexy as date rape at a frat party. Visa’s superhero ad was at least moderately impressive for its awesome display of licensing prowess. Mostly, though, the ads were sloppy, often incoherent, and really, really stupid. Some were entertaining, but nothing stood out as great. In fact, the real standout was the Degree ad with the Mama’s Boy doll, which went beyond stupid and trashy and into the deeply disturbing.
I’d say that this reflects something terribly important about American culture, but it doesn’t. It reflects something about the culture of the American advertising industry, which is showing deep uncertainty in an era of tight corporate budgets and shifting Middle American values, because of course the twentysomething hot-shots in Manhattan offices have no real clue about Middle American values. So we get softcore porn, jokes about softcore porn, and meta-ads.