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    Southern Views

    Pepsi showed awfully bad taste in one Super Bowl commercial

    by | Feb 19, 2011

    An optimist isn’t supposed to be depressed. But I am nothing but depressed at the way our country is becoming more boorish, often showing bad taste, and if nothing else, violating the civility with its lack of kindness and manners.

    OK, perhaps I’m too idealistic. Yet some matters bother me.

    Perhaps the one single day when our country can best show its creativity and innovation is on Super Bowl Sunday. No, we’re not talking football here, but what brings the football to our homes: advertising.

    Year after year major advertisers pay big dollars to reach into the minds of millions of Americans and promote their wares during the Super Bowl. Apparently these major advertisers think it’s worth it to pay $3 million for a 30 second commercial (can you imagine?) to tell us their product is head-and-shoulders above their competitors.

    These commercials don’t influence me so much, since I often have the television sound off for some of the game and most of the commercials. The clump of commercials is getting so long there’s time for a person to get up and stretch, go to the bathroom, and check out something else to nibble on or drink and not miss much, if any at all, of the game.

    By happenstance, I paid attention to one television commercial, one that needed little sound, since the participants did not talk. It was a wonderful commercial, commanding your attention, and punched eventually with humor. It was the Coca-Cola “border” commercial. If you missed it, check it out here:

    The cola companies often war with Super Bowl commercials. During the game, we didn’t see any Pepsi commercials, but heard about it later and looked at it on the Internet. It was horrible, most boorish, had an awful basis, and then really violated most good behavior in its ending. You may be as shocked as I was with this commercial. Take a look, but we warn you: most people are offended at this bad taste in seeking to play on humor.

    These two commercials made us wonder what other commercials we had missed, so we spent about 30 minutes looking on the internet at many of the messages that aired. We saw lots of action and far-out ideas, but few that we would call memorable commercials. Many were from the auto companies, while others had those unreasonable special effects that do little to impress anyone who thinks independently. Many were just plain bad.

    That’s what bugs us of these Super Bowl commercials. If this is the best that Madison Avenue and other advertising agencies can do at promoting products, we feel badly for what is coming later on. It doesn’t appear very many commercials will break through and give superior promotion to the products they are hawking.

    Perhaps those of you who look at more television than I do see these commercials in a different light. Perhaps I need to have the sound on more often (horrors!), and perhaps I’m just in the last century in viewing these efforts.

    Yet it worries me that all too often, the commercials are aimed at the lowest common denominator—action, violence, lack of creativity and bad taste….and those producing these commercials think they are being creative and successful. Fat chance.

    ###
    Elliott Brack

    Elliott Brack

    Elliott Brack is a native Georgian and veteran newspaperman. He published the weekly Wayne County Press for 12 years; was for 13 years the vice president and general manager of Gwinnett Daily News, and for 13 years was associate publisher of the Gwinnett section of The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. He now publishes, in retirement, Web sites on Gwinnett County, http://www.gwinnettforum.com, and Georgia news, http://www.georgiaclips.com.

     

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    • Monica Smith

      I’ve sort of trained myself not to watch commercials, so I appreciate an objective dissection. Besides, since I don’t have cable or a dish, I didn’t watch the Super Bowl (past my bedtime, anyway) nor see any of the adds and, now that embedding has been disabled on the Pepsi one, I don’t have to check if “Love Hurts,” does what I think — makes light of abusive behavior or a power play by perversely calling it love.
      Another phrase that’s been making the rounds is “I love you to death.” I still haven’t figured out if that expresses an American fascination with death or a perverse understanding of what it means to love. Is American love possessive? obsessive?
      Tasteless. That’s a good word. Applies to much of our culture and much of our food.

    • Tom Gibbs

      Thank you, sir, for the clear, direct assessment of both our boorish country and the commercials that seem to drive it to even more boorish behavior as well as condone the loss of common courtesy, basic manners, and decency. Such commercials are, too often, celebrations of rude behavior and, I’m afraid, reflect the general attitude of this country, today. As for the Pepsi commercial you mention, it was reprehensible on so many levels and if a certain aspect of that commercial was reversed there would have been a major outcry in the media at large. Years ago, when I was bemoaning the loss of courtesy I was witnessing all around me on a daily basis, my daughter said, “Common courtesy and common sense aren’t that common anymore.” True, and much the worse for it are we as a society. Again, thank you for the excellent commentary.
      Best regards,
      Tom Gibbs

    • Tom Poland

      I write TV commercials now and then and one thing I refuse to do is to depend on digital trickery to be “creative.” There is NOTHING creative about making cartoons of real people using special effects. The ads I utterly despise are those damn ads where toddlers discuss their brokers and what makes a good investment. Whoever writes those should be fired. And I have written before about the artificial mix of races that you really don’t see in real life. It’s akin to the tooth fairy business we carry on with kids—make believe. It just isn’t as pervasive as the ads try to portray. All the money and all the technology cannot rescue a bad concept.

    • Frank Povah

      I hate commercials on principle -- and I ignore them -- but you asked me to look at this one. Being Australian, I think it’s funny.

      Sad thing is that being hit by the can will probably do you less harm than drinking its contents.

      Frank

    • Del Olds

      I thought it was funny! I was not shocked. You should not take it so seriously. Geez!

    • Mark Dohle

      It was humor and humor does deal with the ‘darker’ aspects, so I did laugh about it. We can laugh at something on TV that in real life would be perhaps tragic.

      Peace
      mark

    • cokefloat

      I loved the Coke commercial; hated the Pepsi one… partly because Coke made the point and Pepsi totally missed it. The Coke commercial makes the appeal of the drink the entire purpose — it changes the attitudes of the two men, and brings them a little closer in understanding. I think it will become a classic, like the hilltop commercial.

      Pepsi — well, the action and the interplay is the point. Not the drink. And why include a young blonde who for some odd reason seems to be flirting with an older man who is with his wife? Not the mix of races especially, unless you consider the stereotype of “young dumb flirty blonde”. But what the commercial does not do is leave me with a desire to open a can of Pepsi, and that should have been the entire purpose of the commercial.

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