Despite my cuffed skinny jeans, asymmetrical haircut, and wiry vegan body, I don’t hate sport. Well, I don’t hate all sport. I can challenge a lot of people for the title of Diehard NBA Fan, believe it or not. And for those of you who also follow the NBA, you’ll know that this is the most exciting time of the season.
The playoffs started last weekend. It’s one of the few things on television that I can watch for hours and not feel guilty about doing so. In fact, a lot of people feel the same way. You know it, I know it, and marketing advertising agencies know it.
During Game 1 between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder last Sunday, here were some of the commercials shown over and over again, targeting the ‘typical male sport viewer’:
The Cheap Food Advert: KFC’s Double Down Chicken Sandwich
This commercial features successive shots of customers (all males) complaining about the current state of chicken sandwiches, later to be appeased by KFC’s latest Chickenstein, a sandwich with melted cheese, bacon, and a mayonnaise sauce. Where’s the chicken, you ask? Oh, well, it TOOK THE PLACE OF THE BREAD. That’s right. Apparently, bread isn’t manly enough (despite being the component that makes a sandwich a sandwich), so instead you’re grasping two chicken breasts (easy, fellas).
The typical Numbers response would be: Oh, he’s a vegan. Of course he doesn’t like KFC. He should stuff his mouth with salad and STFU. First of all, I hate salads. Second of all, this isn’t personal. People can eat meat if they want. But KFC, a leading contributor to global warming, animal cruelty, and deforestation? All in the name of cheap food. But ‘caring about the consumer’ is simply a front. Cheap food always means cheap production for the corporation.
The Sexist Beer Advert: Miller Lite (see also: The Sexist Deodorant Advert)
These adverts, which feature couples that are always heterosexual and always an attractive woman with a blabbering schlub, drive home the idea that a man can be disrespectful, dishonest, and incompetent and still ‘nab a winner.’ I don’t know what’s worse: thinking it’s manly to be disrespectful, dishonest, and incompetent in regards to women, or thinking it’s unmanly to be respectful, honest, and competent in regards to women. These adverts are the Judd Crapatow movies of the advertising world.
CAR CAR CAR Commercials!!!
Oh, the consumerism… Have we learned nothing from the recession we’re still currently in? Advert agencies, especially those representing the car companies, are trying to make you forget those lessons in frugality and responsible spending you learned from almost losing your home. No, you should buy a JEEP because you need adventure in your life. You should buy a Lexus because you need a sleek ride to get your rich arse to the swanky club. Plus, it’s a hybrid! Everybody wins, right?
Another typical Numbers response: He’s looking way too much into it. He’s simply too angry over nothing. Well, at the risk of sounding conspiratorial, that’s what They want you to think. In fact, that’s how the advert agencies want you to think: not much at all.
Whilst writing this, I discussed the topic with Joseph, a friend of mine, and he brought to light several interesting points. Before Ronald Reagan was President, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulated every radio and television commercial that went to air, mostly in regards to ‘decency,’ but also in regards to false claims and dishonest manipulation.
(For the record, I am not sticking up for the FCC. I am against censorship, but I am more against advertising, simply because I feel censorship is too silly to fear.)
During Reagan’s reign as President, the FCC took a more ‘market-oriented’ stance, which led to the caliber of adverts we now see today. But this all started twenty years ago with the FCC’s shift. Once this happened, marketing and advertising agencies began targeting, above all, the weakest individuals in society, children.
Adverts were laced with subliminal messages that threatened a child’s subconscious psyche, so that an innocent child watching a beer commercial will begin to think these things: men drink beer, treat women like prizes to be had, etc. All to get people simply to buy their shit. This, Joseph concludes, is why society is so fucked today. All those children are now grown up and running things.
Think about that next time you’re forced to watch a television commercial. Don’t be a victim.