The Super Bowl reflects American society. This year, the American population is working through issues related to gender.
Super Bowl advertisers study the U.S. population for months, trying to understand what is significant and what people are thinking about. They then develop ads that build on and reflect these insights. The ads you see on the Super Bowl are a picture of what we are all thinking about. It isn’t a coincidence when several companies identify the same insight.
As a society, we are clearly struggling to understand what it means to be a man, a woman, a boy or a girl.
On Sunday, we will see at least three advertisers saluting men as fathers. Dove, Nissan and Toyota will run spots that celebrate men as dads: caring, supporting, strong, confident and admirable.
We will see the NFL running a spot about domestic abuse. The ad features a mother desperately trying to get protection from an abusive father. This spot focuses on men as violent, controlling and dangerous. It provides a very different view.
P&G’s Always will run a spot about self-image and girls. Why does “like a girl” mean something bad? When do we come to believe that “run like a girl” doesn’t mean run like the wind?
Are men strong and dangerous? Or are they strong and caring? Or are they both? Why?
Are women vulnerable and powerless? Or are they strong and fast? Or are they both? Why?
This year’s Super Bowl may or may not be a good game. I’m confident the advertising will give all of us something to think about.