2014 Super Bowl ads: The good, the bad, and the even-worse-than-the-Broncos

By WWN Intern Rachel Cohen

Though the Super Bowl two Sundays ago lacked real competition (what with the Broncos scoring less than the puppies in the Puppy Bowl), there was a great spread of commercials vying to be the most talked about ad on Monday morning. Unfortunately, they were not all great for women. I’ve watched a few of the most popular ads from Sunday’s game and graded them for gender-friendliness. The grades are base only on my gut reaction–if you disagree, feel free to voice your opinion in the comments!

Goldie Blox

In my opinion, the best commercial for female football fans was the Goldie Blox commercial. By marketing engineering toys for girls, the brand breaks the mold of the uniformly pink, home economics-style toys one usually sees on the market. Goldie Blox is changing the face of what ‘girl-toys’ are and hopefully starting a new trend in children’s toys all together! They even managed not to get in a legal battle with the Beastie Boys this time!

Grade: A+

TurboTax

Though I’ll admit I definitely chuckled when I first saw this commercial, re-watching it I see definitely see women being objectified. The protagonist, dejected and mournful, watches his high school crush dance with Sean. While this is a tragedy I’m sure most can understand, the way he completely neglects to acknowledge the fact that perhaps this girl has her own opinions on the matter is obvious. Comparing the Super Bowl to the girl, she is ‘stolen’ from him, as if this sad young man with questionable peach fuzz has some sort of ownership over her. It reminds me of the eternal ‘nice guy’ who laments being left for someone else, even when he is clearly such a nice guy. Maybe your team isn’t in the Super Bowl because they screwed up; maybe the girl is dancing with Sean because he does have better moves. Either way, let’s not refer to women as stolen goods, and equate them to football games. Thanks.

Grade: C+

Beats

Though this commercial is not specifically about women, I think it says a lot. I loved that it starred Ellen DeGegeneres. As a queer woman, I don’t see too many other queer women on TV that aren’t being shown as sexual objects for male consumption. It’s nice to see an openly queer woman being treated as any other spokesperson and not being objectified either through her gender or her sexuality. (The dancing bear wearing a shirt with a hibernation pun didn’t hurt either!)

Grade: B+

Hyundai Genesis

While this Hyundai Genesis ad starts out adorable and does seem to advertise a pretty great feature, the main moment where the boy nearly crashes after seeing a pretty girl walk by really irks me. Women are subject to street harassment on a regular basis. Though he may be enjoying the view of a beautiful girl, I would bet that most real girls would not love the opportunity to be stared down and ogled by a random passerby. It often seems as if just being female in public somehow gives others the right to comment on your appearance, stare, and harass. This commercial reinforces the idea that of course boys can’t help but stare. Ugh.

Grade: C

Cheerios

Again, I was super excited to see diverse representations on the screen Sunday night. Interracial couples are rare on television, so this was a refreshing change from the usual. Women and their relationships are numerous and varied, and this was wonderful! Check out an older post on the blog from Gethsemane Herron that discusses an older Cheerios commercial featuring the same family.

Grade: A

GoDaddy


I never expected to see a GoDaddy commercial that didn’t seriously upset me, but by George, I think they’ve done it. They seem to have moved past their years of commercials that are seriously sleazy, and changed their apparent policy on only showing women if they are next-to-naked. While I was pleased with this change of advertising, I still can’t help but think that this is all a part of a larger strategy. First they used shocking, offensive advertising to gain name recognition, and now that they have it, they can show commercials with more widespread appeal so as to repair their reputation, but keep their fame from the older commercials. So while I commend them on the new style, I most certainly will not forget their old commercials.

Grade: B

Volkswagen

Many have probably already heard controversy over this ad regarding it’s representation of women. As Elizabeth Plank at Policy Mic says, “Are all engineers old white dudes? Apparently Volkswagen thinks the answer is yes. Unless of course you’re a hot engineer babe. Then you get to be the butt of a sexual harassment joke!” As you can tell by the grade, I agree.

Grade: D

Hyundai Elantra

What’s that you say? I’ve already complained about Hyundai for making street harassment seem okay? Well I’m going to have to do it again because they, too, have done it again. In this one, a female driver is pestered and followed by Johnny Galecki, simply because they both have the Elantra. Though she rejects his advances verbally and even tries to kill him with explosions that look like they belong in a video game, he does not retreat. This is not okay. Again, simply by existing as female in public, this woman is subject to the overwhelming, unwanted attention of a man. Stop this.

Grade: D

Budweiser 

This commercial about the friendship between a Labrador puppy and a Clydesdale didn’t really have anything to do with gender, but it was the most adorable thing I have ever seen, therefore I put it on this list. JUST LOOK AT THAT PUPPY. HOW COULD I NOT?? Seriously though, I think I can die happy now.

Grade: A++

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