Super Bowl ads

Super Bowl Ads: One Long Sugar High

Commercials on TV. Image courtesy tele52/

Commercials on TV. Image courtesy tele52/

Most years, Super Bowl commercials are noted for their humor, violence, oversexualization, or some combination of the three. And this year had its fair share of those combinations. But in a year that saw the NFL struggle with issues of domestic violence, homophobia, and franchised racism, many commercials took a different tone. And it was those commercials that have created the most discussion this year.

Coca Cola told us that "the world is what we make it" and envisioned a world without arguments or bullying.

Dove and Nissan both addressed the challenge and responsibility of fatherhood.

Always directly challenged implicit and entrenched gender bias and stereotype, ending on an empowering note of the strength of women.

And NO MORE moved us with a stark reminder of the horrors of domestic violence that are suffered in silence and isolation.

These companies must have done extensive research and testing — expending a lot of time, energy, and resources — into what consumers value and want from a product or experience. And what they found was obvious. People want happiness, family, love, relationships, and community.

The problem is that you can’t connect to them by switching your cellphone provider. You can’t find them by eating chips or drinking beer. And you won’t arrive at them in the driver’s seat of an SUV.

These commercials expose what we all really crave — and none of the companies who invested in Super Bowl commercials are selling it.

Watching Super Bowl Ads with the Little Prince: From Delusion to Freedom

By Nicholas Wang, derivative work by Poke2001, via Wikimedia Commons

By Nicholas Wang, derivative work by Poke2001, via Wikimedia Commons

There’s an absurd character in The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry who reveals more about our capacity for self-delusion than we might want to admit. He’s called the King and when it comes to desire, he is as deluded about his own power as we are about ours. The King’s delusion is this: he believes that the movements of the sun, moon, and stars are the result of his commands. That’s right – the sun rises and sets because the King commands it to be so. Our delusion is nearly identical: we believe that we are the source of our desires, that they arise and fall at our command. Because of our shared delusions, we and the King are quite out of touch with reality. Remarkably, the cure for us is also the same – spending some quality time with the Little Prince.