Sexist Super Bowl Ads of 2012

In preparation for the Super Bowl, WAM! encouraged followers to use the hashtag #notbuyingit on twitter, which SPARK and Miss Representation started in order to track the online conversation about sexist Super Bowl ads. On Mother Jones, Maya Dusenbery covers the power of social media in fighting against those ads. She says that according to Miss Representation, “women make up about half of the Super Bowl’s audience and they’re more likely than men to tune in for the ads, rather than the game,” and while women “wield more household purchasing power than their male partners, 90 percent of women think advertisers don’t understand them.” Super Bowl commercials are a great example of how ads ignore female viewers.

I wasn’t surprised to see commercials for that involved the objectification of women:

The first shows Danica Patrick talking to two men who think they’re in heaven,  surrounded by women wearing barely anything. Not only that, but Chloe Angyal on Feministing points out that “there is something revolting about a corporate sponsor taking a woman who has made it in a highly male-dominated and masculine field, car racing, and putting her back in a woman’s rightful place: in a skimpy costume under the male gaze.” The second ad features Danica Patrick again along with professional trainer Jillian Michaels, where they are seen painting a nude female model as a way to advertise domain names from Go Daddy. I’ve watched this ad several times and still don’t really know what they’re trying to say here.  Apparently objectifying women is the only way they think they can promote their company, because this year wasn’t much different than last year’s ads:

Next up we have a commercial for Fiat:

It starts with a man walking down the street with a cup of coffee. He stops when he sees an attractive woman bent over in a dress and high heels, and she catches him staring and walks up to him. She starts to be affectionate toward him while seductively playing with the foam from his cappuccino, but then all of a sudden we see he was just imagining her and he’s actually looking at a car. Objectifying women in a car commercial is not a new thing, but in this ad, a woman is literally equal to an object.

Another car commercial that is definitely worth talking about is this Kia ad:

Chloe explains that Kia is sending a “pretty clear message that men and women are totally different species with totally different dreamworlds. A woman dreams of riding across a meadow on the back of a white horse with a handsome fairtytale prince under a rainbow sky.” As opposed to a man who “dreams of driving a race car while Adriana Lima and thousands of hot bikini-clad women cheer him and Motley Crue plays and something about a giant sandwich and a boxing match.” Chloe’s thoughts are exactly how I felt after watching the ad, and I also got the message that Kia believes women’s fantasies are never sexual. There is also a lot more time used in the commercial for the man’s fantasy, and in the end he takes the woman from her dream and they both drive off in a Kia. The idea of the ad is that the man is the one interested in the car and will ultimately be the one purchasing it, so apparently women don’t buy cars? According to a recent Jezebel article, LeaseTrader found that women ask more questions about the car they’re purchasing than men do. Women were “more likely than men to pay a third party to inspect the car for them” and they were “more likely to ask for specifics about the car’s safety, history, and functioning, whereas guys were more likely to ask about performance, looks, and technology.” Women are in fact interested in buying cars and are very involved in the process.

Then we have the Teleflora ad:

Model Adriana Lima shows up again, and this time she is shown getting dressed in sexy clothes, make-up, and jewelry. She then turns to the camera and says, “Guys, Valentine’s Day is not that complicated. Give and you shall receive.” So the message is that if you send a woman flowers, you will get sex. In Teleflora’s world, women are only there for the sexual pleasure of men, and we’re supposed to have sex in return for gifts. Women don’t want sexual pleasure for themselves, and the only way we’ll have sex is if we get a gift first.

Two of the ads mentioned above were for cars, but it is possible to produce a clever car commercial that people will remember without using sexist advertising. Honda’s Super Bowl ad recreated scenes from the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off with Matthew Broderick driving around in the new CR-V and skipping work as himself instead of skipping school as his character, Ferris Bueller. Honda used a movie that people recognize to advertise their new car without needing any naked women or a sexist script:

If you’re as disgusted as we are by these ads, contact companies like Go Daddy, Fiat, Kia, and Teleflora and tell them to stop objectifying women. Don’t forget to praise companies like Honda for getting it right. If using offensive ads is the only way a company can sell its merchandise, then it’s not a good product.

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