Fine. I’ve decided to make up my own word for Super Bowl advertising. It’s often “pornicious.” The correct word, "pernicious," means “having a harmful effect, especially in a gradual or subtle way.” So my word fits quite well, especially if you saw this recent headline in the Chicago Tribune:
"Frozen food porn" Super Bowl ad: Kraft Heinz makes play for spotlight with racy Devour spot
It seems we’re returning to the un-thrilling days of yesteryear when we blushed in watching GoDaddy commercials in the Super Bowl. And then there was the PETA controversial ad that fortunately never aired during the big Bowl. In their effort to promote adopting a vegetarian lifestyle, this ad had women in their underwear using vegetables on their bodies in a sexualized way.
Another non-Super effort that was rejected was a Bud Light beer commercial for the 2007 game.This one showed a young couple sans bathing suits jumping naked into a pool. The ad then revealed a window that looked into the pool. Thus, everyone would see the dipping duo.
So what’s the deal in the Devour spot for this year’s Big Ad Game? First off, I’d never heard of the frozen food brand, Devour. It’s manufactured by the Kraft Heinz Companies.
An uncensored version of the commercial was released last week. In this one, “a woman talks about her boyfriend's problem with ‘frozen food porn’ and says he watches it several times a day and has a hidden stash of photos—of food.’” The girlfriend claims the addiction has made him a "three-minute man," referring to the time it takes to heat up the frozen meal.
Allen Adamson, co-founder of the branding consultancy MetaForce, commented on the ad, saying, "Male millennials may get a yuk out of it, but it is going to do very little to sell any products. It’s more likely to do more damage than good for the actual brand.” In fact, as the Tribune noted. “Raunchy ads risk offending or polarizing a company's intended target audience.” Ya think?
Why do it? A 30-second ad can cost more than five million dollars. Apparently some advertisers are willing to employ a “whatever it takes” attitude. Says Adamson, "There's nothing worse than spending $5 million and having no one notice.”
That is not true, of course. Selling your corporate soul, or revealing that making money is your true god, will ultimately not win souls. Our consciences will make sure of that.
My favorite Super Bowl ad of all time was from a beer company—Budweiser. It featured Dalmatian puppies. The ad portrayed two of the dogs being selected—the first one by a fire department who would grow to ride on the fire truck. The other pup grew up to ride in a Budweiser truck. Two years later the dogs pass each other and the Bud dog was the envy of his sibling. It ended with a very cute touch. (It’s available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vp_szhKqIK0)
Creative, memorable advertising touches the human spirit best with an emotional connection of warmth and often a humorous touch. Our kids can watch it and enjoy it. We need not worry about turning the channel.
The writer of Proverbs tells us, “The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value. The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of sense.” (Proverbs 10:20-21, NIV)
Looks like the Kraft Heinz folks need to devour more of the Proverbs if they really want to “nourish many.”
I’d rather not see a good company get frozen in time because of porn-icious marketing.
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