Subliminal Super Bowl Advertising

4 Feb

An investigative glance at what Madison Avenue is really telling us.

Whew! That was a BIG game! Those Ravens! Those Niners! Okay, I didn’t watch it, but I’m sure it was just as momentous as every previous mega-hyped sporting event was purported to be. What really interests me—and most other people—are the commercials that cost up to $4 million for 30 seconds of air time. Those must be absolutely transcendent in order to merit such a payout. But what sort of subliminal messaging is Madison Avenue filling our minds with? What are these colossally expensive commercials really telling us?

True Messages of Best and Worst Super Bowl Commercials:


  • Audi: “Prom”—Driving an Audi promotes reckless behavior, invites violence.
  • Volkswagen: “Get in. Be Happy.”—As with certain other illicit activities, even brief exposure to a Volkswagen affects your mood and leads to impaired speech.
  • Toyota: “Wish Granted”—Men have no imagination, and women don’t listen to them anyway.
  • Mercedes Benz: “Soul”—Though he remains a master of short-sighted seduction, even the devil is feeling the influences of a down economy.
  • Kia: “Space Babies”—Parents will go to great lengths, and car companies will spend exorbitant amounts on non-car-related CGI, to avoid talking about the core issue.


  • BlackBerry: “What It Can’t Do”—The new BlackBerry Z10 is so far behind its production schedule that the company doesn’t know its actual features yet.
  • Samsung: “The Next Big Thing”—Well-funded ad executives can control anyone.
  • Best Buy: “Asking Amy”—Women may give salespeople lots of grief, but they’ll still buy too much stuff.
  • “Perfect Match”—An allegory of Internet porn, which, judging by the look on Danica’s face, GoDaddy recognizes has degraded our standards of good taste and morality, but… whatever. How much do I get paid for this?
  • E-Trade: “Save Money”—No, really, we insist: Day-trading on the Internet will make you rich from all the money you don’t spend on fees. It’s a “spend more, save more” kind of logic. Get it? C’mon, even the baby gets it.


  • Paramount: “Star Trek Into Darkness”—The horn section from Inception found another gig.
  • CBS: “Practice”—David Letterman can be funny without even trying.
  • Marvel: “Iron Man 3”—Iron Man learned how to be awesome by playing Wii Resort.
  • Universal: “Fast and Furious 6”—Forget Seal Team Six. What this nation needs is a team of ex-con highly coordinated drivers to save the world. Plus lots of women in bikinis.
  • Paramount: “World War Z”—No, America isn’t tired of zombies yet. But now we have to use top talent to keep them relevant.

Food and Drinks

  • Coke: “Security Camera”—Drink manufacturers are watching you.
  • American Dairy Farmers: “More Milk”—Spoil your kids with whatever they want, and the world will go to pot.
  • Taco Bell: “Viva Young”—Mexican-themed fast food is like heroin to old people whose diet restrictions prevent them from having it.
  • Pistachios: “Gangnam Style”—Suggestive sexual undertones of Psy’s K-Pop megahit apply even to tree nuts. Nasty.
  • Budweiser: “Brotherhood”—Yes, even some of the greatest songs of the 20th century are up for sale—and you can’t do anything about it! Ha ha! (Here, have a drink to make the pain go away.)


  • Calvin Klein: “Concept”—Attention all you men lounging around on the couch for hours eating fried, fatty food. You, too, can look like this if you wear the right brand of underwear.
  • Skechers: “Man vs. Cheetah”—Your clothing not only makes you look different, it vastly improves your physical abilities. (See Calvin Klein ad above.)
  • Tide: “Miracle Stain”—Perhaps the devil should switch from Mercedes Benz drivers to sports devotees, who are easier prey for cheap miracles.
  • Speed Stick: “Laundry”—Beautiful women in tank tops hang out at the Laundromat. But that doesn’t make them easy.
  • Century 21: “Wedding”—Let’s distract you from the fact that the housing market is still in the toilet with this lesson: If you spend as much money on your wedding as they did here, you’ll be living with your mother-in-law. Ha ha, just kidding. There’s actually a foreclosure right down the block that’s perfect for you.

What are some others that I missed?


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