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In This Year’s Super Bowl Ads, Positive Portrayals Of Men—And More


The Super Bowl isn’t just about football anymore—it’s about the commercials, and this year, fans will be pleasantly surprised by a much-needed cultural shift: The days of belittling men seem to be passing (at least we hope so!), as two ads focus on strong men and the importance of dads.

The first is from Dove, a moving commercial showing dads with their children, from teaching them to swim to comforting them when they’re hurt or sad. I can’t remember the last time I heard “Daddy!” said that many times on television with such adoration and love.

“What makes a man stronger?” the ad asks. Answer: “Showing that he cares.” The commercial is simple but captivating, especially in light of a society that has too often portrayed dad as a bumbling idiot or merely absent. Advertising can provide insight into the values of a culture, and if it’s now cool to show dad as a strong, caring, and central to the home, we’re all better for it.

The second commercial comes from Toyota, titled “To Be a Dad.” It features interviews with dads who are in the National Football League: DeMarcus Ware, LaVar Arrington, Fred Jackson, and Kurt Warner. They talk about their own fathers, the strength they instilled, the encouragement, and how their dads influenced them to be great fathers, too. “Here’s to those who choose to be dads,” the ad says. “One bold choice leads to another. Honor your dad.”

Don’t Kid Yourselves: What We Think of Dads Matters

Jim Daly, president of “Focus on the Family,” writes, “When the entertainment we take in constantly belittles dads, it both perpetuates and enforces a lie that’s already too pervasive in the culture: that dads don’t matter.”

As Daly goes on to say, nothing could be further from the truth, and thankfully, at least in some quarters, the truth is catching on.

“Dads matter,” he says. “They matter deeply. And as a culture, we should be doing everything possible to encourage boys to become men who value fatherhood and live out their role as dad faithfully and well.”

The ads promoting what it means to have real strength and to be caring men serve as a powerful companion to the No More campaigns against domestic violence, and this year’s No More ad is heart-wrenching. Men who resort to beating women are not real men, but cowards who use bullying and violence to prop up their pathetic egos.

No More is a movement supported by hundreds of organizations to raise public awareness about domestic violence and sexual assault. Its Super Bowl ad is much better than the commercials where celebrities awkwardly struggle to speak about the pain of domestic violence. This ad is a 911 call disguised as a call for pizza. It’s based on real domestic violence calls and is emotionally compelling in a way that the other No More ads, which feature actors, athletes, and musicians, aren’t.

Now, On To Super Bowl Silliness

Of course, not all the ads this year are serious. Could Mindy Kaling actually be invisible in this Nationwide commercial? We hope so, since she goes naked at one point.

And what would Super Bowl Sunday be without creepy talking animals selling Mercedes-Benz? (The best part of this commercial is the Jon Hamm voiceover—but that goes without saying.)

BMW i3 takes us back to 1994 with Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel, who 21 years later still have trouble keeping up with technology. It’s always fun watching media celebrities act brainless.

Snickers also takes us back—to the good ole days of the Brady Bunch with Danny Trejo. Marcia might be a little improved with the mustache.

Then there’s the obligatory eye candy. In this T-Mobile ad, Kim Kardashian, dubbed “Famous Person,” takes a series of selfies—America’s favorite pastime—highlighting her “best” feature. I’m still not convinced that thing is real.

Finally, we can’t forget the commercial that has become synonymous with the Super Bowl: Budweiser and those famous Clydesdales. This year, they pull out all the stops for a real tear-jerker. If you’re the type to cry during Hallmark commercials, grab a Kleenex. This will soften even the hardest heart as the Budweiser Clydesdales help bring a puppy safely home. Not only that, there’s nothing sweeter than a man with his dog (except a man with his children!).