Super Bowl ads parents may want to censor

by Michael Foust |

(CCO Public Domain)

CHICAGO (Christian Examiner) – It's still early, but this year's Super Bowl ads are shaping up to be far less controversial than past years – which is great news for parents who are often caught "diving for the remote" when the game goes to a break.

The Christian Examiner Wednesday watched every Super Bowl ad that has been pre-released as well as every ad "teaser," and found only a couple will warrant parents changing channels if they are wanting to avoid sexual content.
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The Christian Examiner Wednesday watched every Super Bowl ad that has been pre-released as well as every ad "teaser," and found only a couple will warrant parents changing channels if they are wanting to avoid sexual content. That, of course, could change by game time.

So far, 41 companies have announced they will air ads during the big game, paying a whopping $5 million for every 30 seconds. The overwhelming majority of those companies already have posted their ad or a video teasing their ad, according to the compilation website SuperBowlCommercials2016.org.

The most suggestive commercial thus far is one by the men's skin care company Axe showing men, well, trying to attract women. Another one, by Snickers, shows Marilyn Monroe standing over a sidewalk grate, her skirt blowing. The car company Mini USA also has a "defy labels" ad in which soccer star Abby Wambach calls her car a "gay car" – a phrase that may lead to unwelcome conversations in traditional families.

Still, those ads are a far cry from past years when GoDaddy.com pushed the envelope with its sexually suggestive ads. The company will not air a Super Bowl ad this year for the first time since 2005.

One caveat: Movie commercials – which often can be provocative – could be aired Sunday but were not listed on the SuperBowlCommercials2016.org website.

The Parents Television Council urged companies in an open letter Feb. 2 to keep their commercials family-friendly.

"Sex and violence do not sell, period," said Tim Winter, PTC president. "We hope that Super Bowl advertisers heed this research, especially in light that this event is watched by millions of families. Keeping ads 'clean' and safe for all ages will also ensure that the product is remembered positively, and that's a winning combination for all."

As the Christian Examiner previously reported, a study by Brad Bushman and Robert Lull of Ohio State University found that viewers are far less likely to remember the brand name or the message of an ad if it features either sex or violence. The study was first published online at the website of the journal Psychological Bulletin.

"People are so focused on the sex and violence they see in the media that they pay less attention to the advertising messages that appear along with it," Bushman, professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State, said in a news release. "Advertisers shouldn't be so sure that sex and violence can help them sell their products."

Bushman and Lull conducted a meta-analysis of 53 different experiments involving sex and violence within ads in print, TV, movies and video games.