I began my search for offensive media by examining USA Today’s Super Bowl 50 Ad Meter. Not only does it provide a video link and ranking for the top 50 most liked commercials, it also includes a breakdown of the ad’s performance by age, gender, state, and income bracket. The number 1 ranked ad features Kevin Hart using modern technology integrated into his new Hyundai to follow his daughter around on a date, keeping the boy from making any moves at every turn.
The first time I watched this ad, I thought it was cute. There is nothing particularly offensive about it; all actors are fully (and pretty conservatively) clothed, the most sexual it gets is the boy innocently trying to kiss the girl. To boot, the ad performed almost equally across both genders, all age ranges, all incomes, and as far as I can tell all states.
What resonated with me most was that of gender and age range: the ad sat well with women, receiving an average score of 6.95 out of 10. The average score for men is just barely lower, with an average of 6.83 out of 10.
As for age ranges, the ad performed best with the under twenty-one’s, scoring a 7.63. The second highest-scoring age range was 50-64’s, an average of 7.05. The Communication Major in me speculates that under twenty-one’s and 60-64’s scored highest because these are the age ranges represented in the ad itself, and therefore suggests that a lot of the targeted viewers identified with the content. Although these were the highest scoring ages, the three others hovered just below, with a cumulative average score of 6.77.
All in all, it seemed to me that Hyundai had done a spectacular job of connecting to their audience, eliciting a laugh (as all Super Bowl commercials should), and demonstrating that the smart-keychain accessory successfully tracks the owner’s car. In my opinion, none of the characters had been exploited sexually or in their gender roles. So I kept looking. It wasn’t until I googled “ads that are sexist super bowl 2016” in a last desperate attempt to find something useful that I came across an article published by one Amy Lam entitled “Which Companied Got Called out for Sexist Super Bowl Ads?” on BitchMedia.
Lam explains that The Representation Project had asked viewers to call out ads this year that they thought were extremely sexist. As I scrolled down the list of the most reported commercials, I came across Hyundai’s Kevin Hart ad that I had found so unimpeachable and adorable. In her analysis, Lam calls out Hart’s “paternalistic BS,” the fact that he handed the car keys to the date rather than to his own daughter, and his creepy “need…to follow her around to ostensibly protect her purity.” This made me think a little more: was the ad as innocent as I had believed? Or is this an example of how used we are to seeing this kind of thing in the media that we don’t think twice, as Jean Kilbourne talked about in her speech posted to YouTube entitled “Women and Advertising.” Or else while the ad does not necessarily promote being buff or “being macho” along the lines of working out, does Kevin Hart’s behavior embody the type of macho advertising that the Huffington Post identified in the article “Be A Man: Macho Advertising Promotes Hyper-Masculine Behavior, Study Finds?”
I have been studying communication and marketing for the past three years now, and I have to wonder how Lam would like Hyundai to recreate the ad to appeal to society but also not play on any of these offenses that I did not pick up on until told about them? This is how my own father would have joked about handling any of my dates (even though it would never actually play out), so the same concept appeals to other fathers who want to protect their daughters from boys that will kiss them and break their hearts. Is that more of a sexist concern or a paternalistic concern? Next I would like to take a look at who he handed the car keys to: yes, I think we are all aware that his daughter could have driven herself, but the commercial would have hardly worked if she had been in possession of the keys— the whole idea is that the boyfriend is the one that saw the father at every turn and had to keep from making any move. Finally as I have already touched on, Hart’s “need” to follow his daughter around seemed to have the goal of generating a laugh, not embodying reality.
“Which Companies Got Called Out for Sexist Super Bowl Ads? | Bitch Media.”Bitch Media. N.p., n.d. Web.
Homebell2. “Women and Advertising.” YouTube. YouTube, 2012. Web.
Bahadur, Nina. “Be A Man: Macho Advertising Promotes Hyper-Masculine Behavior, Study Finds.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 5 July 2013. Web.