By Mary Kate Cary, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
In the spirit of Richard Nixon's "I am not a crook," let me just say, "I am not a prude." And the other women I have talked to about this are not prudes, either. What we're talking about are some of the proposed Superbowl ads: commercials for mancrunch.com, a website for men who want to date other men, and a godaddy.com ad that features a lingerie designer and scantily clad women. According to ABC News, CBS decided to reject the mancrunch.com ad by saying, "Our Standards and Practices department decided not to accept this particular spot," which shows two men making out for what seems like a very long time. According to an ABC News source, CBS rejected the godaddy.com lingerie-themed ad for its "stereotypical tone."
Both seem like very vague reasons for rejecting the ads. It seems like they decide to reject or accept ads on a case-by-case, moving-target, I-know-it-when-I-see-it set of rules. Maybe network executives should have a well-publicized set of criteria for accepting ads and stick to it. It would have come in handy with these two ads, which are just the tip of the iceberg.
The fact is, news and sports programming is overrun with advertising that is not family-friendly. I'm glad these two ads were rejected. Parents like me are tired of hitting the mute button on the remote, covering our children's eyes, and creating distractions in the room. ("Was that a mouse I just saw, girls?") I don't think I'm the only woman who is sick of cringing every time commercials come on during sports events.
And what do these ads say about men? Do ad execs think that racy, stereotypical, juvenile ads convince most men to buy their products? Do they really think men will just jump off the couch to run out to buy beer, Viagra, and K-Y Jelly when they see barely dressed women on TV? It's hard to tell who they think is more stupid: women or men.
I understand if over-the-line ads are running during Saturday Night Live or David Letterman--but why are so many inappropriate ads running during the World Series, the Super Bowl, NBA games, and even daytime and prime-time news programs? I think I'm one of the few women in the entire world who watches the Golf channel, and that one's the worst. It seems like all they've got is wall-to-wall erectile dysfunction ads. When you put those be-ready-for-sex-anytime ads together with Tiger Woods's shenanigans, it's too much. Yuck.
While I'm on the subject, let me tell you what happened to me recently. I went on a cable news program at 4 o'clock in the afternoon on a weekday to talk politics. Of course my kids taped it and I called my mother to watch it from her house. Little did I know that while I was waiting in the quiet studio with 30 seconds to air that the network was running a penis enlargement ad. Not a Viagra ad. WAY worse. The ad ran and then there was my smiling face. Unaware of it, I called my mother afterward ... but she was too mortified to say anything. I picked up the kids from school and that's when I saw it, watching it on TiVo together in the family room. I about croaked.
Enough is enough! Unless the networks--both regular and cable--start raising the bar to get rid of some of this nonsense, they're going to see fewer and fewer families tuning in. I wish there was a way to watch sports live without hearing or seeing the ads--in fact, I'd pay extra for that, like I do for XM Radio's commercial-free music. Here's another idea: Networks should follow the lead of Southwest Airlines, when it announced that unlike the competition, it wouldn't be charging for bags. If one network were to publicize that, unlike the competition, it would no longer run just one ad category--erectile dysfunction ads--I think it'd see a boom in ratings that would more than offset any loss in ad dollars. I know if my family knew that we could watch sports on a network that didn't run Viagra ads, we'd watch that one all the time. And I doubt we'd be alone.