2018 Super Bowl Commercials and Faux “Wokeness”

Super Bowl LII took place last night and the fanfare ended with the Philadelphia Eagles walking away with their first ever Lombardi trophy. The game had its fair share of excitement, especially as tensions rose while starting the fourth quarter — with the Patriots looking as if they were going to execute another one of the come-from-behind wins they are well-known for. Yet, they came up short, and the Eagles are now able to refer to themselves as the “world champs” from now until the 2018-19 season rolls around.

Besides the game play, people tend to tune-in to the Super Bowl each year to consume the half-time show and the various commercials. Justin Timberlake’s half-time performance was both unimpressive and forgettable — it seemed that the NFL wanted to go with the blandest, safest act they could possibly choose (especially amid all of the political uproar the league has faced this year, whether for players kneeling or the increasing awareness of CTE). The Super Bowl’s commercials, for which a 30-second advertisement would cost a company $5 million, seemed to capture the political, progessive movement of our time, so says LinkedIn’s CEO, Jeff Weiner:
Screenshot 2018-02-05 at 3.49.37 PMI wholly disagree. While these commercials might act as a “barometer for the prevailing zeitgeist,” in that they are representative of the personal trends of our society at this time, let’s not act as if they are genuine.

These commercials are nothing more than advertisements: Their purpose is to distract the viewer from the fact that the company’s one and only goal is to sell them their product. To act is if they are truly indicative of our society’s zeitgeist is distasteful; similarly, it undermines and disparages the work of those that have been consistently advocating for social activism in a tumultuous time, warping it until it fits a capitalist narrative. (Consider Budweiser’s need to tout the fact that they contributed water to these natural disaster zonesToyota’s advocating for diversity and acceptance among faiths, T-Mobile’s assertion that all babies are equal, or Ram’s Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ad?)

This technique — the appropriation of cultural/political movements by marketing departments and business firms — is nothing new. The examples can range from Heineken’s “Worlds Apart” to  Pepsi’s shameful Kendall Jenner ad, Starbucks Ethos water to Coke’s “I’d Like to buy the World a Coke.” While each of these ads and the Super Bowl LII commercials might be indicative of the “prevailing zeitgeist,” the end goal of each is nothing more than to convince the viewer to have personal interest in the company and buy the product that is being sold to them.

The affair is entirely disingenuous, and it is nothing more than ignorant to believe that these commercials are wholesome or representative of the political movements currently taking place in this country.

Photo taken from Sports Illustrated

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