Super Bowl: A+ Super Bowl Commercials: F

I don’t know if I can call Super Bowl 52 the greatest Super Bowl I’ve ever seen when there was very little defense played. But that was definitely the most entertaining Super Bowl I’ve ever seen. Great game, a joy to watch.

I’ve long argued that Super Bowl commercials are overrated. Last night’s were just horrible. Too many of them had to had to have an agenda. The Dodge commercial that played a speech from Martin Luther King to sell cars was outrageous. What’s next? Excerpts from the “I have a dream” speech to sell mattresses?

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But a commercial that I’ve been thinking about that just rubbed me the wrong way was the above commercial from Hyundai.

In the commercial, people are brought from lines to video statements of pediatric cancer survivors. A young woman says “Every time you buy a Hyundai, a portion of those proceeds go to childhood cancer research.” Other women start speaking, “You helped save my life and the life of so many children so I’d like to say ‘thank you,’ except I would like to say it in person.

I think it’s cliche and disingenuous to try to capitalize on tragedy or charity as a means of advertising. It’s great that Hyundai donates to a worthy cause, such as pediatric cancer. But to run a commercial where it’s making a big to do over customers because a portion of their purchase goes to a worthy cause just rubs me the wrong way. Is it just me?

Let me try to look at this another way. I saw a commercial today about a kid who fell into a frozen pond not far from where I grew up. A police officer saved him. The officer said he doesn’t consider himself a hero.

But we can agree that saving someone’s life at risk to your own is a heroic action.

Hyundai runs a commercial where people are being thanked and told “you helped save my life.” So you buy a Hyundai > Hyundai donates some of that money > that money helps actual people in medicine who are in the trenches do research and provide treatment. That just seems like such a roundabout way of helping.

Is that the reason why anyone even buys Hyundai?

We all know people who seem pathologically incapable of doing anything for anyone else without drawing attention to their generosity. I’d prefer companies not be so shameless.

This parody commercials from Saturday Night Live last year captures the sense well.