Super Bowl commercials are to February’s big game as Santa is to Christmas. You just have to go see him and his elves.
I chose three commercials this year as symbols of the way we are in the era that Trump wrought. Judges abound on the myriad other commercials, so I’ll leave their expert critiquing to them.
I chose three of what I call The Bard, The Mom, and the Car–Budweiser’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” commercial with a dog sitting on a hay truck, an increasingly furious mom whose M&Ms are fighting like kids in the back seat, and Hyundai’s elevator commercial.
Bob Dylan did not write “Blowin in the Wind” to celebrate a dog’s freedom atop a beer wagon or to celebrate green energy, yet the now 77-year old icon who some call the Bard and who is the only folksinger to ever win the Nobel Prize in Literature, stands as an anthemic voice and sound of 60’s protest. Yet that’s not the point of the commercial–appealing to what made us stand up for what was right then and now in the Civil Rights of the twenty-teens, still as vital and powerful as when Dr. King lived and now as his life is celebrated in winning freedom for all. Look no further than Charlottesville or the outrage at the yearbook page of Virginia’s current governor when he was in med school to get that point. Is Budweiser tilting at windmills?
More incredible is how quickly and brilliantly Dylan wrote the song. In this rare TV interview he told Ed Bradley he wrote the song in 10 minutes:
Still Budweiser has purloined a song that speaks to generations and perhaps rises above the hayfield and a cute Dalmatian.
The Bard and the Dalmatian
Mom and the M&Ms
M&Ms, which takes its initials from the founder of Mars Candy Company and the president of Hershey Chocolate, are also iconic among candy lovers. This whimsical take has the hard-shell chocolate M&M candy bars fighting like kids in the back seat while a mom tries to drive undistracted. The fighting doesn’t cease until she threatens to eat them. Funny.
Hyundai elevator commercial
No one likes jury duty, car shopping, restrictive diets or the myriad of elevator stops at life’s little insults this Hyundai Shopper Assurance ads takes the viewer through. A car is a car and Hyundai gets it; maybe suggesting that shopping for a Hyundai ranks higher than showing up for jury duty or a root canal (hopefully). Kudos for the Korean car company that is dominating the SUV market.
So, takeaways. It could be 1985 in these commercials or even 1965. Other commercials, true to the times, featured a kind of #MeToo theme in their ads but nothing jumped out at me. The long and the short of it, I’d say Madison Avenue or whoever put these ads together at the direction of the advertisers said, “let’s have a little fun this year and maybe throw in a protest song for good measure even though you’re not protesting anything.”
Will they influence anybody? Not really. For that you need Instagram and Twitter.