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Feminspire | April 24, 2014

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The Most Sexist Commercials of Super Bowl 47

The Most Sexist Commercials of Super Bowl 47

If you want to see a problematic portrayal of women, look no further than the commercials during the Super Bowl. For one of the most televised events of the year, Super Bowl 47 aired some of the most horrifyingly sexist commercials I’ve ever seen. The following is a rundown of what I feel are the worst offenders of the evening.

Go Daddy

I can always count on Go Daddy to come up some highly offensive advertising, and this year was no exception. In the first commercial, Go Daddy wanted to show us that hosting your website with them blends the smart and the sexy together. In order to demonstrate this, we were shown an attractive female model to represent “sexy,” and a nerdy, slightly overweight tech guy to represent “smart,” with a close up of the two making out. The message is clear: women can’t be smart and sexy. In fact, they’re not smart at all. The sexy woman needs a smart man in order to achieve perfection.

And you really think I want to host my website with you, Go Daddy?

Their second commercial is just as offensive. The 30 second ad flashes between a husband and wife of varying ethnicities sitting on a couch, with the wife nagging her husband to put his “big idea” online. Each husband refutes her, claiming that his idea is so original, no one else has thought of it yet. The wife is skeptical, and the husband treats her like she’s stupid for even suggesting he do something with his “big idea.” The last shot shows a husband who did put his idea online, sitting on a private jet with his wife while an attractive female flight attendant brings him a beverage and an equally attractive female pilot flies the plane.

There are several problems with this ad. We have the most obvious: the representation of woman as nagging their husbands, who are the only ones with worthwhile ideas. After watching the ad a second time, I noticed that, despite showing families of various ethnicities, the families were pretty much the same. There were no mixed racial pairings or same-sex pairings, reinforcing the message that there is only one type of family out there. I wonder, does Go Daddy realize that it’s 2013 and not 1953? It’s no longer considered taboo for either an interracial couple or a same sex couple to get married. Men aren’t the only one with ideas, and women don’t sit at home and nag their husbands. This might be a new concept to you, Go Daddy, but women can actually earn a living for themselves. They don’t have to wait for their husbands to come home with all the fancy ideas. Our brains are capable of independent thought.

Audi

This commercial sticks with me as the worst offender of the night. We see a boy going to his prom alone, looking confident because he’s driving his father’s Audi. The boy sort of swaggers in, walks up to the prom queen, and kisses her out of nowhere. The girl’s boyfriend sees this and begins to walk towards the two. We don’t see anything happen, but the next shot is the boy in the Audi again, grinning and sporting a black eye. The commercial ends with the tagline, “Bravery. It’s what defines us.”

Here’s what you’re actually telling your audience, Audi: That it’s okay to walk up to someone and kiss them out of nowhere. In fact, it’s a brave and romantic gesture. Who cares about the girl’s consent or her angry boyfriend? You still look super cool because you’re driving an Audi! And now you’ve got this awesome black eye showing how daring you were to sexually assault a girl you probably have a crush on. Absolutely nothing wrong with this picture.

This commercial doesn’t sell sex, nor does it even sell a car. What it does sell is the idea that sexually assaulting someone is cool and shows courage. But it doesn’t. It shows cowardice.

Gildan

I had never even heard of this company until I saw the commercial, and I can safely say that I will not be buying any of their products. It seems that one commercial portraying sexual assault just wasn’t enough for this year’s Super Bowl; apparently two is even better.

The Gildan commercial features a guy waking up from what appears to be a one-night stand in a girl’s bedroom. It’s implied that the night before was a little crazy; still attached to the guy’s wrist is a pair of leopard print handcuffs. As he extricates himself from the room, he notices that the sleeping girl is wearing his favorite t-shirt. Rather than call it a lost cause, the guy attempts to remove it from her while trying not to wake her up.

Because Gildan doesn’t seem to get it, I’m going to explain things very clearly for them. It’s never okay to remove another person’s clothing for them while they sleep, unless perhaps that person is your own sleeping child of an age where they cannot yet dress themselves. In fact, it is never okay to do anything to a sleeping person without their express consent. There is no excuse for assaulting a woman, including retrieval of your favorite article of clothing.

2 Broke Girls

I’ve never really watched this CBS show before, but I’m assuming that the title is pretty self explanatory. The commercial that aired didn’t really help their cause, either. It showed the two girls wearing a bedazzled version of their waitress uniforms, dancing around on stripper poles to “Pour Some Sugar On Me.” Halfway through, one girl stops and asks why they’re doing this. Her friend replies that it’s for the Super Bowl, and the two resume their sexy dance.

I’m assuming that this is supposed to be some kind of social commentary about sexism in Super Bowl advertisements, but it fails to hit the mark. Appearing to be humorous about the stereotypical objectification by portraying said objectification doesn’t make it any less sexist.

Kia

Super Bowl 47 was a pretty bad year for problematic car commercials, and Kia is a double offender. The first commercial shows a shiny car with two female robots (“hotbots”) as decoration for selling a man the car. Yes, Kia actually saw fit to turn women into machines in order to sell their car. This goes beyond normal objectification as women are actually stripped of their humanity in order to sell a car.

The second commercial isn’t so much sexist as it is problematic. It shows a family sitting in their car when a little boy asks where babies come from. The father then makes up some elaborate story about an imaginary planet that brings a mother and father their baby. When the boy tries to say that his friend told him something different, the mother squashes his question by putting on “The Wheels on the Bus.”

I’m not sure why this car company thinks they have the right to tell families how they should discuss reproduction with their children. Rather than sell cars, this commercial reinforces the idea of abstinence-only education, which has been proven time and again to be ineffectual. But whether you agree with this view of sex education or not, this commercial promotes flat out lying to your children when they ask where babies come from. Kia, you are supposed to be selling cars, not sexual education. Why don’t you leave that to the professionals?

Calvin Klein

While we’re on the subject of objectification of women, it’s only fair to mention the commercial that saw fit to objectify men. Honestly, I wasn’t sure who this underwear commercial was aimed at. Although it was selling men’s underwear, the entire commercial consisted of an attractive, toned male model wearing only the aforementioned underwear, flexing his muscles while the camera panned over him. I’m assuming that the commercial was meant to be popular with the straight cis female demographic. Seeing as I have no interest in buying men’s underwear, they might want focus more on the demographic they’re actually selling to. I’d also like to point out that objectification of a man rather than a woman doesn’t make it any less objectifying.

What do you think was the most sexist, problematic commercial of Supsr Bowl 47? Share your thoughts in the comments. 

Written by Jackie Klein

  • Devon

    You’re not even going to talk about the racist VW commercial?

    • KM

      Acknowledging that different people in different parts of the world speak in different ways is not racist.
      Acknowledging that some parts of the world are associated with having a good time is not racist.
      A bunch Jamaican citizens have publicly said that they think it’s hilarious.
      I also believe the title of this article was “The Most Sexist Commericials of Super Bowl 47.

      • Cabbage

        ‘a bunch’ does not equal all

        • KM

          Very, very true. But everybody is always unhappy with something at some point.

          • Vm

            Oh, even if the women in the relationship is a strong, smart, bread winning women, rest assured. She still nags.

        • Lettuce

          Nothing will ever be equal for all.. People will always have complete opposite views, that’s what makes this world interesting.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jackieklein Jackie Klein

      The problem with doing a truly thorough analysis of all the problematic Super Bowl commercials is that it’s going to be lengthy. In addition to the VW commercial, there were a lot of things I could have said about the ads run by Coca Cola, Speed Stick, Axe, and Mercedes. Therefore, I made the decision to focus it a bit more. That’s not to say that the ones I pointed out are the ONLY offensive commercials. I had hoped that by only pointing out a few of the most offensive (and probably most talked about) commercials, I’d be starting a conversation about the negative depictions in ALL the commercials.

      • Kay

        you could have tried to make an acknowledgement in your opening paragraph that there were many other -ist ads during the superbowl but how you’ve decided to only focus on the sexist ones.

        • KM

          Again, the title of the article is “The Most Sexist Commercials of Super Bowl 47″

  • Devon

    “I’d also like to point out that objectification of a man rather than a woman doesn’t make it any less objectifying.”

    Mmm, actually it does. Patriarchy hurts men too, but not in the same way. The Calvin Klein commercial isn’t the same as any other commercial who features a woman in a similar, disembodied setting because the society we live in does not support the harassment, rape, and discrimination against men as it does women. While that commercial does perpetuate problematic body ideals for men, it just does not carry the same oppressive baggage that it does for women. The man in the commercial is most likely seen as strong, independent, and capable of getting women–while if it were a woman, the adjectives would look much different. She would be seen as an easy, sexualized object. Not to mention that the poses that men in ads make are qualitatively different from the poses ad campaigns make women do.

  • Maxine

    This is the most ludicrous, article I have ever read. In the GoDaddy ad I hardly think the husband thinks the woman is “stupid,” at least, that’s not the vibe I got from it. Secondly, the ad is clearly saying how anyone anywhere in the world can access the website and I’m not sure if you’ve been to India/ China/ Areas of Africa but there aren’t too many mixed race couples/same sex couples in these places so it wouldn’t really be an accurate representation.
    The message I got from the Audi advert was “Don’t be an idiot and kiss someone else’s girlfriend because you’ll end up with a black eye.” The guy is clearly supposed a bit of a nerdy type who doesn’t have a date but the car gives him the confidence to kiss this girl. I definitely wouldn’t call it sexual abuse, she doesn’t look in the least bit upset by the kiss, in fact she looks like she liked it!
    As for taking something that belongs to you off of someone you’ve just slept with, I personally don’t see the issue here? Would it be as bad if he was taking off his watch that she happened to be wearing? He’s seen her naked, she’s in her own house, he may have put another shirt on her if he were successful in taking it off her without her waking up (highly doubtful).
    ” This goes beyond normal objectification as women are actually stripped of their humanity in order to sell a car.” I’m not sure if you’re actually being serious here. I am speechless that you have even managed to interpret this in this way.
    Lastly, if you know anything about advertising and psychology you’ll understand the last ad. People want to look and be like people they see on TV and they think that buying the product will help them reach that. Underwear companies clearly do not go for the “relatable” adverts. Besides, I’m sure most people who were watching the advert to see the healthy physique of that man rather than the average american man.

    All in all, I really think you should lighten up. I find it sad that you watched the superbowl adverts with what seems to be a horribly critical eye rather than appreciating the humour in them. No advert is going to please everyone though I guess. They cannot represent and please everyone and that is not their aim. They have a target market for a reason. I really think feminspire should do a “ridiculousness” check on some of these articles before posting them alongside most of their other really respectable ones. P.S. Did you miss Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson and Beyonce performing? Clearly the SuperBowl isn’t sexist if they let such awesome, talented, strong women to perform!

    • Kiana

      “Clearly the SuperBowl isn’t sexist if they let such awesome, talented, strong women to perform”

      I really have to disagree with you. Commercials have always had a bad reputation for being sexist (among other things) but its like companies are allowed to use the Super Bowl as an excuse to justify sexism and objectification. I think its commendable that the author watched the ads with a critical eye – I took a class just on that very topic. Its important that we are informed of what we are watching and just how bad it is for its. These things influence us, whether we notice or not.

      All of these is saying to men and women alike, especially the younger generations who are still influenced by these big companies and celebrities, that sexism and objectification are okay. That its perfectly okay to go up and kiss a random person because hey, that isn’t actually sexual assault since she “liked” it. You cannot say if she liked it or not because, well, you aren’t her! But of course the ad will portray the girl acting accepting towards the boy’s behavior – who wants to watch a commercial about the reality of a random kiss that is actually sexual assault?

      • Maxine

        Fair enough, in my opinion I wouldn’t consider that sexual assault personally. I’m assuming they go to the same school and the romantic in me likes to believe that there’s a story behind that (nerdy guy get the prom queen?) You do have a fair point about young people watching some of this stuff I guess, it is sad that so many ads are about sex/ sexuality.

        • Sara

          The nerdy guy gets the prom queen plot line is actually HUGELY problematic because it always makes women prizes to be won. So no, that doesn’t make anything better. And I really don’t understand why you think it’s appropriate to jump to the defense of someone going around kissing girls without their consent instead of just saying “wow, that’s a really shitty thing to do” and leaving it at that.

          • Disgusted HUMAN BEING

            WOW. This is beyond feminism… it’s misogynistic, and down right ignorant.

            It’s a commerical about a kid, with no date, that obviously likes a girl, who is in a typical mid-westernized Jock and Prettiest girl type prom queen and king relationship, in which the boy apparently has the courage to go up and kiss the girl he likes.

            Have you never been in high school? Going up and kissing a girl isn’t sexual assault, it is showing that you like them in a very straightforward way. If it was assault in any way shape or form, don’t you think she would have done SOMETHING to stop it? Not KISS HIM BACK, and have a cherishing look and smile like she obviously REALLY ENOJYED IT.

            I do not understand this ideology that misogynistic, err.. i mean “feminists” live by. You overanalyze everything, look at the world through a cynical lens that makes a crack in a side walk somehow offending to you, and think EVERYTHING is a direct attack on the equality or objectification of women.

            The whole idea of that commercial is the playfulness, mystery, uncertainty, suspense, and defining moments of being a young boy and not having the courage to approach or kiss that girl you’ve been in love with throughout school. THATS IT. Not some sexual assault metaphor saying its ok to “Sexually assault women all over the world now.

            Relax. Go get laid. Stop thinking the world is out to get you, and all men are evil.

            This is more aimed towards this joke of an author of this article, and slightly towards your response, so no offense, but its almost comical how serious and far this woman stretches to make some kind of connection to completely absurd ideas and meanings to things to justify her hatred and miserable life. Don’t get dragged down by these types of people.

            As the author of this hate blog pointed out, it’s 2013, not 1953. The times have long changed. My generation does not objectify women, do not think it is ok to “sexually assault” them, or think they are inferior in any way. But if you want to make up some meaning to make your life feel like it has a purpose of making the world a better place for women, by all means, continue your ignorant, hatefilled blogging, which does nothing other then just give a bad name to “feminism”, and portray you as some miserable, misinformed, ignorant, hate-filled woman.

          • Sara

            It is not okay to kiss a woman like that. IT IS NOT OKAY. Just because there may be a girl out there that wouldn’t slap you (like the one the commercial. Also, apparently you need to be reminded that that’s not a real person – it’s a girl probably scripted by a man) doesn’t excuse that the he completely invaded her without her consent. If someone walked up to me and kissed me like that I would be FREAKED THE FUCK OUT.
            Seriously, why is this not obvious. The fact that people like you think that’s okay is terrifying.

          • Maxine

            “probably scripted by a man” – seriously? so unnecessary…
            he’s just kissing her, if he’d groped her or done anything more I would see where you’re coming from! Do you not believe in impulse?
            The fact that you cant see the cute romantic side of of this is terrifying, i feel sorry for you.

          • Maxine

            Thank you, at least there are some other sane people in this world.

          • Jessica

            “My generation does not objectify women, do not think it is ok to “sexually assault” them” – Then why are women still sexually assaulted (and why did you put sexual assault in ” ” ? That’s pretty terrifying!) and objectified (Every single one of these had the objectification of women as a theme – you cannot deny that)? Answer me that, please.

            “Going up and kissing a girl isn’t sexual assault”

            Actually, it is and women are taught from a very very young age to just accept it, and be happy about it. That’s probably why she reacts the way she does.

            Anyway, I’m pleased to say that if some random bloke grabbed me out of nowhere, he’d have gone away with a black eye (or worse), and my boyfriend wouldn’t have even got a look in.

            “Relax. Go get laid.”

            So, if i didn’t already think you were a complete idiot, you’ve just confirmed it. And FYI, I am relaxed, and I got laid last night. I still think you’re a sexist idiot, and these commercials are all shit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/laurencslavin Lauren Slavin

    The new Bud imitation craft beer was far more interested in showing long legs and big breasts that booze.

  • T

    I agree with Maxine and I thought these commercials were clever and funny for the most part.

  • stonermike

    this article is stupid. you’re probably just a man hating lesbo that just has to find a problem with something just to say you did something with your life.

    • Sara

      Please. Tell us more of your opinions.

  • Anne Onymous

    I’m pretty sure that Kia Space Babies ad is a send-off of this kiwi ad here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0YV_Y7zFSU), which is much funnier.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jackieklein Jackie Klein

      Thanks for pointing out this ad, I had never seen it before now! And you’re right, this ad is much better than the Kia one.

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  • Lisa

    Im a woman and I really don’t think it’s sexual assault to remove your shirt from a person with whom you just had sex with the night before. To me, the idea that that’s somehow “assault” is laughable.

  • jimbo

    As a man I even thought that Kia hotbots commercial was disgusting. Just gross.

  • bm

    How about the Misandry exuded by the General Electric commercial “my mommy builds engines, builds trains, invents surgical”, etc.
    No mention of daddy!!
    Another example of the one sided analysis by the socialist, entitled, radical, and spoiled brat feminist of the world.
    98% of inventors and scientists are MEN!
    I am a pilot, and women airline pilots are responsible for the last three CONUS airline disasters killing hundreds. (BHM, JFK, BUF,) WHY?
    Well maybe because hiring and training standards are GROSSLY relaxed for women and minorities!
    Oh, and female military pilots in combat have a 100% kill ratio- yes themselves! Unfortunately they take good men down with them.

    Another example of the great work the feminist movement has made!
    Man up! If you want equality quit your GD whining and get to work.
    Women get it served to them on a silver platter and still complain- a sign of weakness!