Knowing that Super Bowl Sunday is the only day of the year in which TV viewers actually care about commercials, you'd think ad agencies would have tried to reach the men and the women watching at home, right? Wrong.
Only a few minutes into the 3rd quarter and it was evident that a theme had already emerged, namely, advertisements aimed at emasculated men and the harpies who have sucked the manhood and life out of them. The pattern kicked off with this Snickers/Betty White ad, and I must admit that I laughed the first time I watched it - who wouldn't laugh at the former Golden Girl yelling, "That's not what your girlfriend said!" But as the night went on, it became clear that the Snickers spot was the first of many ads starring emasculated males who need to "man up" via various products. In this case, it was a Snickers bar, which turned White back into a male football player. Not the worst ad of the night by far, but the first example of a creepy and infuriating pattern.
Next up: an ad for Dove For Men, in which a man celebrates the fact that he's finally become... a man. It's the least offensive ad of the bunch, and an interesting contrast to parent company Unilever's bro-tastic Axe commercials, but it still centers on the notion that a man deserves things simply for, you know, growing up.
Dodge's advertisement for the Charger features a male voiceover admitting that he'll do whatever he's told to do, like "watch your vampire tv shows with you" and "put the seat down" and "carry your lip balm." Seeing that a woman has ruined his life, he feels it's his right to drive the car he wants to drive; standing up for manhood by picking a Dodge is apparently "man's last stand." No stereotypes here, eh? I'm sure it was unintentional, but this ad played like that old SNL skit wherein Will Ferrell attempts to assert control over his family by reminding them that he drives a Dodge Stratus. The joke, naturally, was that this made Ferrell look even more pathetic. I'm guessing that whomever created the Dodge Charger spot didn't get that joke.
And Bridgestone took us back to the 1950s with a spin on the ol' "take my wife, please" bit, with a dastardly villain being disappointed after a man gave up his wife to spare his tires, as opposed to his life to spare his tires. Because nobody wants a dumb wife when there are tires on the line, right? The whole thing is just creepy, especially when the woman is shoved, forcefully, out of the car.
Bud Light's "Book Club" ad doesn't necessarily fit the "sad bro" pattern of the night, though it does present men as childish idiots, making "thrusting" jokes and trying to hit on women with lines like, "I'd like to hear you read some words."
The worst ad of the night award goes to "Flo TV," in which an announcer informs the viewing audience that a man shown lingerie shopping with his girlfriend has had his spine removed. After hooking the bro up with a mobile tv, the announcer instructs, "Change out of that skirt, Jason." Because he's such a powerless girl, get it! High fives, everybody. Let's hope half the viewing audience—you know, those spinestealing, dream crushing, vampire tv wearing skirts ruining the world— don't mind being insulted while tuning in to the big game. Look, ad agencies, we get it: you're trying to reach out to men watching the game. But it might be worth considering the fact that presenting men as dumb, pathetic babies in need of gadgets to save them from their boring lives and presenting women as horrible harpies intent on ruining the world might turn off more than a few viewers at home. If nothing else, you've given a sizable portion of the population a list of things not to buy (here at Jezebel, we refer to that as "badvertising"). Better luck next year, bros.
There was at least one bright spot dealing with these theme, however: Lauren Wick's hilarious flowchart mocking the night's worst ads, designed to let bros "know if Super Bowl commercials are helping you be all the man you can be."