Friday, February 6, 2015

Super Bowl Commercials

I watched the Super Bowl on Sunday. And I have to say, it was a great game: the back and forth drama, athleticism, and spectacular plays, particularly in the end. As I sat in my chair, watching the sportsmen compete in this great tradition that remains one of America’s cultural touchstones, I did, so to speak, keep the remote close at hand. The Super Bowl commercials that weave between great plays might be a fascinating survey of social trends, but I am a father—not a social scientist—and perhaps like you, I am responsible for distracting attention when advertisements get out of hand.

Among the silly commercials (the Kardashian one), the stupid commercials (the Kardashian one), and the risqué commercials (the Kardashian one—and others), I found some uplifting surprises. Several advertisements channeled genuine charm and warmth. One was reminiscent of the poignant “God Made the Farmer” commercial from two years ago. Several car companies offered tributes to fatherhood with moving presentations of relationships between dads and their sons and daughters. A soap company asked “What makes a man stronger?” and answered with a montage of fathers and children in family life, ending with a humorous pitch for their product. Another car commercial concluded with “The world is a gift: play responsibly”—a good way of expressing a deeper truth. A fast food company agreed to give away food when customers called their mothers.

Super Bowl commercials are a barometer of American culture. Often shown just once a year, these colorful and inventive advertisements highlight seismic social and commercial trends. Marketing executives around the world dream of 30 second game spots that can capture the moment and sell a product. For better or for worse, these game time commercials are a reflection of our identity—or at least of the direction where Hollywood and big business want us to go.

Maybe Hollywood and big business have concluded that their power can have major impact on the imagination of people around the country. Rather than appealing to that which is degraded and exploitive, perhaps marketing executives are realizing Americans yearn for a message focused on something higher and good, something beneficial to persons, which in turn is good for business.

About the Author:

JEFF FORTENBERRY has served as the U.S. Representative for Nebraska's 1st congressional district since 2005. He is the Chairperson for the Subcommittee on Department Operations, Oversight, Nutrition and Forestry. Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights and has a seat on the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia. He is a member of the following Caucus groups: Civil War Battlefield Caucus - Congressional Biofuels Caucus - Congressional Farmer Cooperative Caucus - House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus - International Conservation Caucus - Sportsmen's Caucus.

Congressman Fortenberry has become the most knowledgeable representative on Capitol Hill for nuclear security issues.

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