February 5, 2007

So the violence in the Super Bowl commercials means what about the war in Iraq?

Some of the commercials were violent, like a guy throwing a rock at another guy's head. Surely, that means something about the war:
No commercial that appeared last night during Super Bowl XLI directly addressed Iraq, unlike a patriotic spot for Budweiser beer that ran during the game two years ago. But the ongoing war seemed to linger just below the surface of many of this year’s commercials.
Or all over the surface of your brain.
More than a dozen spots celebrated violence in an exaggerated, cartoonlike vein that was intended to be humorous, but often came across as cruel or callous....

During other wars, Madison Avenue has appealed to a yearning for peace. That was expressed in several Super Bowl spots evocative of “Hilltop,” the classic Coca-Cola commercial from 1971, when the Vietnam War divided a world that needed to be taught to sing in perfect harmony.

Coca-Cola borrowed pages from its own playbook with two whimsical spots for Coca-Cola Classic, “Happiness Factory” and “Video Game,” that were as sweet as they were upbeat. The commercials, by Wieden & Kennedy, provided a welcome counterpoint to the martial tone of the evening.
So if the ads are violent, they're about the war, and if the ads are sweet and gentle, they're about the war? And whichever way they go, they are against the war, right?

ADDED: Anchoress: "Hey, NY Times, put down the bong."


BrianOfAtlanta said...

I'm trying to imagine what a bunch of crabs praying to a beer cooler has to do with the war. On ABCNews.com, the favorite ad is the dalmation one, and that was hardly about the war, either. Perhaps it's Mr. Elliott who is all about the war.

TMink said...

Liberals keep a Procrustian bed handy at all times. All data fit their ideology. There will be some stretching and pruning, but all data fit.

Democrats avoid such nonsense and just enjoy the game.


Henry said...

Maybe these don't qualify in Mr. Elliott's seach for meaning, but the most violent ads, by far, were the spots for television crime shows.

In my house our favorite ad was the Carne Asada lions, with the hilarious Robert Goulet ad a close second.

David said...

My take was that the Iraq war was buried by soporific commericials designed to ignore the elephant in the room.

Turner's group recently upset the apple cart in Boston with it's ill-advised bomb-scare promoting a cartoon. I don't see a coincidence here. The advertising agencies ad du jour is that there is no war except in the fevered imagination of George Bush.

They are wrong and they are tweaking the nose of the Islamic dragon.

MadisonMan said...

Sometimes an ad is just an ad. The agencies are trying to get you to remember their product, not ponder Iraq. I'd say an ad that brought to mind Iraq would be a singular failure -- unless it's an ad for Halliburton or something related.

My favorite was the Snickers bar (the kids in watching in the basement howled with laughter at that one) and the Hitch-hiker with Axe and Chainsaw.

Anonymous said...

I was pretty disappointed with the ads this year. Nothing really stood out. I did like the dalmation one. My favorite was the NFL's ad near the end of the game that showed fans sorry the season was over. "It's hard to say goodbye" I think was the caption. Then they showed a wistful Brett Favre with the caption "For some, harder than others".

KCFleming said...

Re: "The problem with the spot, created internally at Prudential, was that whenever the announcer said, “a rock” — invoking the Prudential logo, the rock of Gibraltar — it sounded as if he were saying, yes, “Iraq.”"

Seriously in need of medication.
Thorazine, Seroquel, Haldol, I dunno, but this man needs major tranquilizers.

I also advise him not to look at any tortillas, for he'll see Cheney's face by a map of Iraq, laughing at him, taunting him. He shouldn't turn on the TV either; they're able to watch him through the cathode tube. And that new mole? It's a GPS device. Have it removed, dude.

Anthony said...

I'm investing in tin foil futures. . . .

The Drill SGT said...

But the ongoing war seemed to linger just below the surface of many of this year’s commercials.

The only fixation about Iraq present was that from the author. I think a shrink should show him inkblots and prescribe some large doses of Valium.

Unknown said...

I thought the ads were very good - the dalmations, the salsa lions, the goodbye. Loved the ESL class where everybody was learning how to ask for a Bud Light, as well.

As for the NYT, I imagine 8 or 9 of their last 10 subscribers will be canceling after they read this ridiculous article.

Oh, and the Purple One put on a great show!

Anonymous said...

We'd have Iraq pacified by now if not for that Robert Goulet. Any theories about where he moved the WMDs?

vbspurs said...

And whichever way they go, they are against the war, right?

I'm guessing the one about the two blue-collar guys sharing a candy bar (I forget which...erm, isn't the point to remember which?) suddenly locking lips.

Then one says to the other,

"Quick! Do something manly!", then rips out a bit of his chest hair, whereupon the other guy does too.

Very anti-war.

In fact, almost Cindy Sheehanish I would say. Yuck.


Finn Alexander Kristiansen said...

I must have not been paying attention because this is the first year that I didn't see anything exceptionally funny.

And some advertisers seem to think that all you need to do is stick a Jay Z or someone remotely famous in a commercial, without writing an ad with a witty, or visually witty, arc.

And yea, I want the beer or candybar or whatever it was, that pitches to me by showing two ugly guys smooching by accident.

And there was no Iraq anywhere except in that writer's imagination. Rightly or wrongly (and likely for wrong), the average person, whether liberal or conservative or in between, does not spend an inordinate amount of time obsessing over Iraq in front of more personal issues (like... getting another slice of pizza before the game starts, or keeping fat Sal from eating the last bag of chips).

Todd and in Charge said...

I watched the game but ignored the commercials. But much historical study has been made of cultures before during and after war. This includes, of course, both German culture leading to WWII, and American culture during and after that war.

Are we supposed to believe this period, post 9/11, is ahistorical and therefore no analysis can be made of this culture living in war and under threat of terrorism?

Anonymous said...

Todd: If you had watched the commercials you would have been hard pressed to see the Iraq war reflected in them. Mr. Elliott appears to have had his storyline written before the commercials even aired.

joated said...

What about the game of football? Isn't that sometimes construed as a war, too?

Sheesh, what a tool!

Kruglosutochnik said...


Bit of an unprovoked shot at Fat Sal.

Leland said...

It's rock, paper, scissors. School kids play it all the time, and sometimes adults use it to settle disputes over priority. Did Mr. Elliott have anything to say about the commercial that displayed the "anti-theft" features of a cellphone? It was the same slap-stick joke.

I think we are giving Mr. Elliott too much credit. My theory is that he had to write something about the Super Bowl commercial, and this was the best he could come do without actually researching the subject matter. Hey, the game ended at 10:30pm EST. How much time did he have to meet the deadline?

Smilin' Jack said...

BrianOfAtlanta said...
I'm trying to imagine what a bunch of crabs praying to a beer cooler has to do with the war.

Honestly, when I saw that I thought "Jeez, they look exactly like Muslims praying to Mecca...this will inflame the Muslim world." No reaction there yet, but remember, it took them a while to get worked up over those Danish cartoons, too.

And if that's not what the commercial was about, then what the hell was it about...it sure didn't make me thirsty.

MadisonMan said...

And if that's not what the commercial was about, then what the hell was it about...it sure didn't make me thirsty.

Drink beer, be crabby?

At the house I was watching, someone commented that the cooler looked vaguely crab like, with the beer bottles being pincers. I didn't see it.

fillyjonk said...

I watched the commercials, and if they were about "the war," I guess I must be pretty dumb, because I totally missed it. I thought they were supposed to be about "Buy our product or service."

I'm not saying you CAN'T analyse things in American culture, I'm just saying this seems like an awful stretch. The Garmin Voltar-like guy really did not make me think of Iraq at all; it made me think of the really bad Japanese cartoons my brother and I used to watch back in the 80s. (Hmmm...maybe the ads were ACTUALLY about the American trade imbalance!)

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