“They’re not going to release the album because they have decided that the cover is sexist.”
Spinal Tap nailed the sexy/sexist conundrum more than 30 years ago; what some people see as sexy, others see as horribly ill-conceived (and yes, others have noticed this too). The Super Bowl magnifies this issue tenfold. With an audience that freaks out over a nipple, advertising's biggest night might not be the right time to push the envelope ... if only because pissing off half a billion viewers won’t help your bottom line.
But that's missing the point.
The real issue with sexy Super Bowl ads isn't that they're too provocative — it's that all too often, they don't make any sense. The gold standard of this template is probably GoDaddy, who has spent big for scantily clad ads since 2005. Problem: no one outside of the tech community knew what GoDaddy was in 2005. And they were none the wiser after watching this. Still, each year, intrepid agencies greenlight 30-second spots engineered to excite rather than inform. This year it's Mr. Clean, who have made waves for putting a “sexy” man front and center.
Without further ado — and because we know you want us to shut up already and show you the sexy ads — here's a little history lesson in Super Bowl skin. Enjoy with or without (gender political) commentary. And if you want to play a fun rhetorical game, ask yourself if you'd have any idea what product was being advertised if said product's name were removed entirely from the scene.
Cindy Crawford stops in some heat-baked backwater town, popping out of a red sports car wearing tight denim shorts, a white T-shirt and shades. Two super creepy kids stare as Crawford guzzles a can. The twist? They’re looking at the can, not her cans (“Is that a great new Pepsi can or what?”). Fun fact: Recreated in 2016 with a horrible emoji twist.
Ali Larter flexes talent, snacks in a laundromat. Sort of quaint and tasteful in retrospect.
Bud Light (2011)
“She’s not very relaxed!” Hey-o! Maybe it’s because you guys took up yoga just to stare at women in spandex. For more beer-related hijinks, see also the (banned) Miller Lite Catfight and Coors Light's “Twins.”
Victoria’s Secret (2008)
“The game will be over soon. Let the real games begin. Happy Valentine’s Day.” Note to Victoria’s Secret and Adriana Lima: 80 percent of women surveyed last year actually watch the game.
Carl’s Jr. (2015)
Hot models in skimpy outfits: they’re just like us! Welcome, Charlotte McKinney (and the “all natural burger”).
The animal-friendly org purposely uses lingerie-clad models and R-rated humor in its Super Bowl advertising ... which is inevitably banned, racks up millions of views on YouTube and the whole cycle begins again.
A constant winner for worst Super Bowl ads — they’ve been banned and the company’s even apologized at times. That said, spokeswoman Danica Patrick is actually involved in sports, so ... that’s something?
Mr. Clean: “Cleaner of Your Dreams” (2017)
The man of your dreams: He cleans! He twerks! He wears tight jeans! (Or are those meggings?) And you, woman who always cleans and cooks, will throw yourself at your real-life schlub of a husband if he just picks up a mop. Gender stereotypes unintentionally confirmed! Also: Mr. Clean is “mad creepy,” says one InsideHook staffer.
Now, if you'll excuse us, we're off to eat some Doritos and get a domain name.