Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-08-31
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Commercial Closet: Super Bowl XLII Advertisers Play to Stereotypes and Homophobia
by Michael Wilke
2008-02-13

This article shared 8148 times since Wed Feb 13, 2008
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


For the second year in a row, some advertisers made plays for violence toward the gay community and stereotypes during the Super Bowl—now paying a record $2.7 million per 30 seconds to do so.

In a hotly discussed ad for Bridgestone Americas Holding tires by Richards Group, Dallas, a man swerves on a dark road to avoid hitting a deer and rocker Alice Cooper in ghoul makeup. However, when he sees flamboyant aerobics instructor Richard Simmons doing exercise in a trademark rhinestone-adorned tank top, the driver instead hits the gas and nearly misses 59-year-old Simmons as he shouts, 'And squeeze those buns!'

It is the first time that Nashville, Tenn.-based Bridgestone has run an ad during the Super Bowl—with a record 97.5 million viewers—and just a year after the Mars Super Bowl campaign for Snickers, where men violently beat each other due to an 'accidental kiss' when sharing a candy bar. The 2007 Snickers campaign web site included video of Super Bowl players universally grossed out by the supposed kiss, and was the target of a campaign by major gay community organizations. Mars pulled its campaign immediately.

Bridgestone's ad was declared homophobic by veteran Advertising Age critic Bob Garfield, and reviewed negatively on AfterElton.com, but Bridgestone's openly gay Advertising and Internet manager, Michael Fluck, says, 'The humor in this ad has nothing to do with sexuality. I don't know if he's ever come out publicly or not, and he clearly knew the content of the spot.' Fluck says Simmons was picked because 'he's polarizing and over-the-top and that may be because of his sexuality. And for that matter, why Alice Cooper? We chose iconic people. Richard Simmons made the spot fabulous.'

To those who have trouble with the commercial, the ad may seem a departure for Bridgestone, which has advertised consistently in gay media with customized ads since 2001 under Fluck's leadership, and carries an 80 score from the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index. But Fluck maintains most people liked the spot, 'We've had tremendous feedback from our customers.' ( It ranked No. 16 on USA Today's Ad Meter. )

Simmons once before participated in a commercial inviting violence on him—in 2001, for a mattress maker that shared his name, Simmons Mattresses. The ad demonstrated how a bowling ball wouldn't disturb someone else on the bed, then demonstrated the ball crushing Simmons himself.

Many may say that Simmons is a self-deprecating, over-the-top clown and that he knowingly participated in the 'fun.' Yet, it is difficult to avoid concluding that Simmons can represent any feminine or flamboyant man, and the rejection and violence is not reserved for him alone. Without the punchline attempt to run him over, the spot could have been an inclusive embrace of Simmons and whomever he may represent—gay, feminine or clownish men.

In another ad, a bisexual psychopathic character ( named T-Bag ) from Fox Broadcasting Co.'s 'Prison Break' and others escaping prison open a manhole cover to find themselves in the middle of the Super Bowl game field. One of the characters looks at a player's rear and says 'Hey Pretty'—he's then immediately sacked harshly.

Advertising has a long history of gay predator prison jokes. Recently, the Universal Studios movie Let's Go to Prison and its trailer were completely built around them. In 2002, Cadbury Schweppes' 7Up spokes-comedian Godfrey was shown in a vulnerable position and 7Up had to pull the spot after Stop Prisoner Rape petitioned that the ad was in poor taste. More references came from IKEA, Panasonic and Virgin Mobile.

Justin Timberlake returns to the Super Bowl for the first time since he co-starred in the Janet Jackson 2004 halftime-performance 'wardrobe malfunction'—this time for Pepsi ( from BBDO ) , where he is forcefully pulled by unseen forces ( actually, a girl drinking through a straw ) across the landscape. He passes a window of what seems like a woman brushing her long blonde hair, but instead is a scruffy young man in a wig, perhaps imagining himself as Justin's former girlfriend Britney Spears, with large pictures of Justin covering the wall. A weird smile crosses his face ( played by Andy Samberg, co-creator of the popular 'Dick in a Box' sketch from 'Saturday Night Live' ) . Some may find the cross-dressing reference inclusive, while it is arguable that this is just a simple laugh at transgender people.

By contrast, Diet Pepsi had a strikingly inclusive Super Bowl commercial in 2005, where 'Queer Eye' guy Carson Kressley gapes at a sexy man.

Other spots from Super Bowl XLII that carried LGBT suggestions were more sedate. A trailer from Sony Pictures for a new movie from comedian Adam Sandler, 'You Don't Mess With the Zohan,' makes a double-entendre reference to bisexuals. When Sandler's character, a comical Israeli commando, performs a superhuman task, a male bystander asks, 'What are you, bionic?' Zohan replies, 'No I only like the girls. Thanks anyways.'

Meanwhile, Dell featured a young man causing a sensation as he walks through a non-American city. As a result, his rear end gets positive attention from a male police officer and an older man, who both slap his butt. In the end, it's not for his looks, it's for his red Dell laptop. The ad carries no negative connotations to the same-sex butt-slapping—usually more acceptable in American football than by random men on the street.

In the end, ad meter ratings don't necessarily translate to sales or long-term brand relationships. But polarizing ads can achieve the opposite. Advertisers will do better in the long run by taking the high road and avoiding gay punchlines.

And we ask Richard Simmons, why not let your next ad make you lovable instead of hatable? 'You are so worth it!'

Wilke is executive director of the Commercial Closet Association and has written for Advertising Age, Adweek and The New York Times. Over 3,000 LGBT-themed ads going back to 1917 can be found at www.commercialcloset.org .


This article shared 8148 times since Wed Feb 13, 2008
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

TELEVISION Original 'Queer Eye' cast member Thom Filicia reveals his 'Secret' 2022-09-27
- RuPaul's Secret Celebrity Drag Race debuted in 2020 on VH1 as a spinoff of the Emmy Award-winning RuPaul's Drag Race. For its second season this year, there were more episodes and the celebrities' identities were hidden ...


Gay News

Hannah Gadsby signs deal with Netflix 2022-09-26
- Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning comedian Hannah Gadsby signed a multi-title deal with Netflix, per a press release. The deal includes a new, hour-long special from Gadsby, recorded on the Australian leg of their Body of Work ...


Gay News

Billy Masters 2022-09-26
- "I just heard about Leonardo DiCaprio's 25-year rule. His loss. You don't know what you're missing."—Dionne Warwick tweeted her disdain over reports that DiCaprio does not date anyone over 25. Where were you during Queen Elizabeth ...


Gay News

Queer As Folk' reboot canceled after one season 2022-09-24
- Peacock has opted not to pick up a second season of the series reboot of Queer As Folk, Deadline noted. A reimagining of the British series created by Russell T Davies, the new iteration—which premiered June ...


Gay News

'Saturday Night Live' announces first non-binary cast member 2022-09-16
- Actor/comedian Molly Kearney will become the first non-binary cast member on Saturday Night Live in its upcoming 48th season, NBC News noted. ...


Gay News

'White Lotus,' Sheryl Lee Ralph among 2022 Emmy winners 2022-09-13
- Unless they were among the cast, crew and staff of The White Lotus, members of the LGBTQ+ community were few and far between among the winners at the Television Academy's 2022 Emmy Awards, which were distributed ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Religion movie, Laverne Cox, 'Will & Grace,' Jeopardy!, Elton John 2022-09-11
- The LGBTQ+ film Wonderfully Made—LGBTQ+R(eligion) will have its New York premiere at the Woodstock Film Festival on Thursday, Sept. 29, following its world premiere at Out in Film in Atlanta on Saturday, Sept. 24, per a ...


Gay News

TV 'Dancing with the Stars' has first drag contestant 2022-09-08
- The show Dancing with the Stars is recording a couple of firsts in its 31st season—including its first-ever drag queen competitor. Actor and Performer D.J. "Shangela" Pierce—the first contestant to compete on three separate seasons of ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Umbrella Academy,' HBO Max, Patti LaBelle, Richard Simmons 2022-08-28
- The Umbrella Academy has been renewed for a fourth—and last—season at Netflix, Variety noted. Cast members Elliot Page, Tom Hopper, David Castaneda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher, Justin H. Min, Ritu Arya and Colm Feore ...


Gay News

Hollywood medium Tyler Henry talks tour, coming out and celebrity readings 2022-08-26
- Odds are that someone you know is familiar with the name Tyler Henry. Henry, star of the Netflix series Life after Death with Tyler Henry, continues to be the most sought-after clairvoyant medium both in the ...


Gay News

Kelly Clarkson's 'Kellyoke' at Navy Pier on Aug. 27 2022-08-25
- The Kelly Clarkson Show is bringing its "Kellyoke" segments to fans in Chicago at Navy Pier at 12-7 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 27. ...


Gay News

'Yellowjackets,' 'Abbott Elementary' among GALECA TV award winners 2022-08-17
-- From a press release - Aug. 17, 2022'—Los Angeles—Proving once more that the "gay agenda" is out to force its will on God-fearing freedom lovers, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics today announced the winners of its 14th Dorian TV ...


Gay News

Billy Masters 2022-08-14
- "Steven Spielberg recently remade West Side Story and bent over [backward] to respect ethnicities and ended up pleasing nobody. And it's too bad, because the original musical was written by Stephen Sondheim, Arthur Laurents and Leonard ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'The L Word,' drag queens, Tanya Tucker, Wanda Sykes, David Bowie 2022-08-14
Video below - Showtime announced that Grammy and Emmy nominee Margaret Cho, Joey Lauren Adams and Emmy nominee Joanna Cassidy will guest-star in the third season of the series The L Word: Generation Q, along with previously announced Grammy-nominated ...


Gay News

Five Worth Finding: Movie short, 'Kaepernick,' ice cream and more 2022-08-14
- —Fraud: Non-binary director Zen Zadih Pace's debut narrative short, Fraud—starring trans actress Dana Aliya Levinson (STARZ's American Gods) and Babak Tafti (Showtime's Super Pumped)—was selected for ...


 



Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor


 

Sponsor


Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.