Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Out of the Stereotype and Into the Cliche

I enjoyed the Super Bowl. I don't follow sports, and two weeks ago I couldn't have told you who was even playing this year. I was in New Orleans this weekend, however, and the spirit was infectious, so that before the game started I was highly enthusiastic about the Saints and their underdog status.

I looked forward to the commercials, too, as the ads that run during the Super Bowl are usually clever, higher budget, and/or just a better product. I was disappointed by how few commercials seemed to be competing in terms of cleverness, however. It looked like there were only a dozen that really wanted to stick in the minds of the viewers, and all the rest were only so much forgettable noise.

Today I read this column by Jocelyn Noveck, heretofore unheard of by me. She wrote this piece for the Associated Press, Henpecked men were a fave theme of Super Bowl ads. Well, yeah, I guess, kinda... but was that only this year? Isn't "the guy who has to attend to his wife's chores instead of watching football" a pretty constant running joke? Did I miss the federal reprieve from this stock punch line?

Noveck goes on to launch one of my least favorite battle-of-the-sexes arguments: men have no right to air any grievance until they are substantially worse off than women. Men's concerns, needs, desires, and their frustration at lacking these, are inconsiderable in the face of what women have had to endure for centuries; therefore, only women are allowed to address their unhappiness.

Noveck doesn't appreciate the stereotypical pussy-whipped male figure and wishes he would go back to being the stereotypical uncommunicative, emotionally distant male figure.

Why would anyone advocating equality turn around and target one gender and insist they have no right to their feelings? To prove her point, she quoted the president of a brand strategy firm and a brand expert at VA Commonwealth University, both women. "Men are stupid! What do you think, ladies?"

I didn't care for all the commercials. I thought that Dove soap commercial was cloying and cutesy, not at all interesting. It's like the marketers gave up on finding a clever way to analogize cleanliness and attempted to recap all the other commercials airing this day. I was a little shocked by the tastelessness of the Bridgestone commercial, and nobody at the Super Bowl party I attended was amused by it. How could they have thought that would be a good idea? Maybe they saved money by circumventing a respectable advertising firm and instead asked a bunch of Alabama good ol' boys what they thought would make a funny commercial.

We loved the Doritos commercial, however, and played it back a few times to our hilarity. And Old Spice? Thunderation, that's some good stuff. Their rebound with Bruce Campbell has only endeared them to my heart, and I'll admit I bought a bottle of their product after the second Campbell ad--it's rare that I'll make a purchase solely to support the advertising firm, but it happens.

When Noveck returns from shopping for shoes and finishes her half-serving iceberg lettuce salad and mochaccino, and before she settles down with her Danielle Steele and her Haagen Dazs double-fudge, let someone inform her that some Midwestern nobody with a broken chromosome does not approve of her emotional oppression. She won't care, because I'm only a guy and therefore my opinions are invalid, but the gesture's the thing.

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