I vividly remember walking into my high school the day after the Super Bowl to everyone referencing the best of the commercials from the night before (somehow the Budweiser frogs always seemed to trump chatter surrounding the actual game). However, had I been heading into Geometry class today after last night's Super Bowl commercials, there would have been little to discuss. All in all, last night's ads were a yawn-worthy disappointment -- especially when it came to spots that featured women.
The New York Times' Stuart Elliott put it well when he said: "Risk-taking, rule-breaking ideas were as hard to find among the more than 50 commercials as good taste in a GoDaddy ad." And while we've been programmed to expect nothing less than female objectification from GoDaddy -- and on that count last night's naked-model-being-painted spot delivered -- I was hoping for a little more creativity from other companies. Unfortunately, after seeing Adriana Lima's double feature as Kia's dream girl (if the dude in that spot can only dream as big as driving a Kia around a racetrack then our whole country is clearly in creativity slump) and as Teleflora's spokeswoman for men getting laid on Valentine's Day, I wasn't feeling very hopeful.
The surprise in this year's commercials wasn't the degree of sexism -- hot girls have been used to sell cars many times before -- but how few women appeared in the ads at all. As Nancy Schwartzman pointed out on Twitter, according to Budweiser, there were no women during prohibition.
Not a woman in sight post-Prohibition, eh boys? #notbuyingit
— Nancy Schwartzman (@fancynancynyc) February 6, 2012
The few standout ads (which included Honda's play on "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," MetLife's inclusion of classic cartoon characters, Toyota's riff on "reinvention" and Volkswagen's exercising dog) were predominantly genderless or gender neutral.
Is this an improvement on what used to be a slate of all buy-car-get-laid ads? Perhaps. But given how many women watch the Super Bowl, the really innovative thing to do at this point would be to run ads that target women -- the people who make nearly 85 percent of all brand purchases -- including decisions about which car to buy, what bank and blogging platform to use, and which insurance company to go with.
Next year let's hope at least one company will go out on a limb and advertise women-centric winter getaways or acknowledge that women do indeed drink beer. In the meantime, we'll just continue to dream of the day that young Riley Maida lands a spot with Volkswagen -- she may be even cuter than mini-Vader.
RELATED: Here's a slideshow of all 66 Super Bowl commercials that ran last night. Which ones did you love and which did you hate?