Dancing sharks aside, my favorite part of this year’s Super Bowl was definitely the ads. Always delightful to watch, the Super Bowl ads have become famous for their humor and irreverence. However, this year’s 180 served viewers a healthy dose of messages regarding equality, femininity, and masculinity.
Many Super Bowl ads have condescended to their female viewers in the past. Women are familiar with the “shrink it and pink it” method of selling products, and companies such as GoDaddy.com and Carl’s Jr. have resorted to blatant female objectification to advertise their products.
But through social media campaigns like #NotBuyingIt run by organizations like The Representation Project and the 3 Percent Conference, male and female viewers of the Super Bowl and the ads run during the game are able to voice their opinion about what they’re watching.
Advertisers this year have taken notice as politically aware advertisements dominated the air waves.
Celebrities like Mindy Kaling, who advocates for the representation of women of color in the media, always took the phrase “like a girl” to task and urged viewers to do the same, and the organization No More aired a powerful commercial about domestic abuse while showing a hotline number for those who may be suffering.
The Super Bowl is one of the most-watched television events of the year, viewed by millions of Americans. For us, Super Bowl parties are thrown in dorms and off-campus houses every year. These same commercials spanned all continents, from North America to Europe, Africa, Australia, and Asia.
The Representation Project counted over 18,000 Twitter mentions from over 8,000 users. People were seeing these ads and reacting to them in positive and negative ways, and the impact was tremendous.
Advertisements are often used to reflect the ideas of society at large, and this year’s Super Bowl ads are indicative of a larger acceptance of gender equality and intolerance of damaging representations in our media.
Women, however, were not the only ones affected – many Super Bowl ads this year helped further positive and tear-jerking images of men as well, specifically ideas about fatherhood and responsibility.
This was one of the best years for female and male representation in advertisements during the Super Bowl, made possible by the prevalence of social media allowing for viewers to let companies know exactly how their ads are affecting them.
There were still ads that were offensive – Carl’s Jr. may never learn – but people were able to voice their opinions about how unacceptable they were.
Hopefully we’ll see this trend continue, not only during next year’s Super Bowl, but for advertisements during the other 364 days of the year.