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Monday, February 6, 2017

Blame Trump! Misguided Super Bowl 51 Commercials

Okay, so where am I?

** - More than a caption - see below
I may or may not be at the Super Bowl witnessing the greatest comeback in the great Super Bowl ever played.

Or I may have just attended the Oscars Nominees Luncheon at the Beverly Hilton. No, I'm not a nominee, but a boy can dream, right?

What I do want to divulge is that the commercials this year were nothing short of, uh, capitalistic. Yeah, yeah, I know that what they are supposed to be, but this year all of the commercials touting diversity and equality left me a bit jaded.

I spent the nearly a decade touting Middle Eastern inclusion and rights in the Unites States media for over a decade and until about a year ago, I have story after story laced in ignorance and/or racism. It was a fruitless endeavor to say the least. At the end of it, I couldn't get anyone to pay attention for very long.

Not a nominee, but a boy can dream!
And, as a reformed misogynist, I've been on a crusade lately as I rail against the advertising industry on their treatment of women (*see below for some of the latest links). So to see all of these corporations forking out $5 million for a thirty-second spot to concentrate on feel-good messages telling the world that they care in Trump America brings out the cynical in me.

Yeah, yeah, I know that aligning with a message shows they have a point of view and it let's everyone know they aren't in their glass towers making commercials in a vacuum but they are aware of the world around them.

But, c'mon...

The diversity and gender equality issues have been at the forefront for years. But now you choose to focus on that because you won't get slammed for doing it? You're emboldened all of the sudden by the protests swirling around the Donald Trump Presidency will get the masses behind you?

Two spots spring to mind...

“Daughter” from Audi

In what may be one of the most pathetic commercials in Super Bowl history, Audi put together a gender equality piece that can only be described as propaganda. Seriously, it looked more like a feminine hygiene commercial than a car commercial. The father's voice over angst is disingenuous at best:

What will I tell my daughter? 
That her daughter is worth more than her grandma? 
That her dad is worth more than her mom?
That despite her education, her drive, her skills, she will be valued less than a man?

Of course the daughter win the race. Let's watch...

Of course, the liberal media is celebrating this for taking on the gender wage gap. However, the youtube video has over 50% thumbs down rating and Audi as a corporation doesn't even embody its own advertising message. Yeah, yeah, blame Trump!

Here is the official overview on the spot from Audi:

"This is a story of a young girl competing in a downhill cart race in her hometown. As the fearless daughter weaves her way through a field of competitors, her father contemplates whether his daughter’s worth will be measured by her gender through a series of provocative questions. It is a reminder that progress doesn’t belong to any one group. Progress is for everyone.

"Progress is in every decision we make, every technology we invent, every vehicle we build. It’s our past, our future, our reason to exist. Audi of America is committed to equal pay for equal work. A 2016 report by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee found that women were paid 21% less than men on average."

I found this commercial to be highly ironic as the male to female ratio of Audi employees is somewhere around 2:1 while the median salary for men is about 22%. Yep, higher than the national average.

The spot says that Audi is committed to equal pay, because that’s a stronger message than, say, parent Volkswagen’s tainted commitment to clean diesel.

All of this proves that businesses promoting products that have nothing to do with politics should refrain from pushing their political agenda.

"What should I tell my daughter?" So many things roll through my mind as I hear this guy whining through the spot:

  • Tell her that she has to work twice as hard as the average man because the guys hiring you won't pay you enough and you have to show your value twice as much. 
  • Tell her that life isn't fair and if you're looking for that, you'll get bulldozed by the corporate climbers who will frame you at work faster than anyone can say "sisterhood."
  • Tell her that when they drive off in their $45,000 car, they shouldn't leave the winning soapbox derby car winner on the side of the road. So much for environmental protection.
  • Or maybe just tell her that daddy didn't buy an Audi in 2017 because luxury carmakers should pander for gender equality they don't fully believe in the cause themselves.

Teaching moments, my brother.

Lady Gaga's push for Tiffany & Co.:

The New York City jeweler jumped into the Super Bowl advertising arena with its first spot and tabbed Lady Gaga to make a splash. The spot, which aired right before the halftime show she was to star in...

Here's the official word from Tiffany & Co.:

As fiercely feminine as the new Tiffany HardWear collection, 
the legendary Lady Gaga captures the spontaneity 
and creative spirit of New York City

She spent the entire thirty seconds writhing on the floor with jewelry on...playing harmonica with jewelry on...and challenging the proposition that “it’s pretentious to talk about how creative you are.”

Also: She likes Tiffany. No ground was broken here.

Before we move on, let's just say that this was easily the most pretentious spot I've ever seen. Here's a few gems from the commercial:

"I love to change, it makes me feel alive."
"I always want to be challenging the status quo."
"(Being creative) is empowering, and I'm coming for you."

That's a real tour de force of pretentiousness. Whew...

The spot came at a time where sales are plummeting for the brand. Tiffany has cited lower consumer spending and a slowdown in business at its flagship store as the reason for the decline. Many of you probably know that Tiffany's Fifth Avenue store is located near Trump Tower, which has been overrun with the Secret Service, tourists, and protesters since the election. Yeah, yeah, blame Trump!

* - Reformed Misogyny Links:

The Happy Couple / Natan Jewelry
Enjoli: A 30-Second Capsule of Sexist Advertising
The Dreaded Casting Call
Ride Me All Day
"You can almost taste the Bush"

** - More than a caption:

Fifteen years ago, I played golf in the foursome behind New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick. He was much different from his press conference persona, cracking jokes and generally portraying the face of a happy man. He told me to always be prepared and plan everything meticulously. I fell in love with the process of everything and it benefitted my advertising career.

After he guided another Patriots team to an NFL championship, he actually said this: "As great as today feels and as great as today is, in all honesty we're five weeks behind in the 2017 season." The comment drew laughs, but Belichick was being serious.

Technically, he’s correct that his team’s 2016 season lasted longer than those of all other teams except Atlanta. But, dude, come on. You just became the first coach ever to win five Super Bowls — and you did it in dramatic fashion.

Isn’t that what all the work is about? Why not take a minute to appreciate what you’ve accomplished? Belichick said Monday that he and his coaching staff will take some time off, but not until this summer. "Now is not really the time to do that,” he said. “If you don't do a good job with your football team in February, March and April, you're probably going to see that in November, December and January. We have some catching up to do. But it's where we want to be."

What can I say, the man loves the process. You gotta love Coach Belichick because, hey, if you're not cheating, you're not trying!