Super Bowl Commercials and Other Deep Thoughts

I didn’t have a favorite team in the recent Super Bowl.  Instead, like a lot of other people, I decided to root for the commercials.

Commercials have become an art form.  We swear we hate them, but tune in to watch them.  They’re magic.

I suppose regular season commercials tend to be inane, unimaginative and clichéd.  We like to see what happens when extra brain power and huge amounts of money converge for a few hours to get our attention.

And yet it wasn’t just art.  The commercials we saw during the recent Super Bowl were efforts to make us think a certain way about Snickers, Skittles, Doritos, Mountain Dew, and sexy cars.  In fact, all the freshmen textbooks say marketing is the management of perception—how advertisers want you to see their products.

Even if you only watched a few Mad Men episodes, you’ve gotten some idea of how these campaigns work.

I liked the hilarious Snickers piece.  The marketing touchpoint:  satisfaction, transformation, revival, restoration.  A Snickers bar can change you back to the normal you—Bada Bing!  That’s what they want you to think.

Marketing philosophy starts with the benefit and stays with the benefit.

But don’t think too much about the product itself. 

A Snickers Bar is basically a tube of sugar.  If you start meditating on that fact,  you’ll be led to another kind of truth—a more accurate one.  Yes, I feel better after a Snicker’s because it spikes my blood sugar.  Because it contains no real nutrients to speak of (except some trace amount in the peanuts), I will crash again.  Or, according to the commercial, Marilyn Monroe will go back to being Willem Dafoe (or worse) in another fifteen minutes.

Those are the conclusions you’ll be led to if you think too much about the product itself.

The Apostle Paul began his gospel message by inviting his listeners to think deeply upon God’s “product.”  He told his audience,  “It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified” (Gal. 3:1).  That has to be the worst marketing move ever.

Dude.  Stay with the perceived benefits.  If you want to talk about the Christian faith, manage perceptions a little better.  Play up happiness.  A better home life.  Saving fifteen percent or more on your car insurance.

A Hindu spoke of how appalling, shocking, and tasteless was the centerpiece of a man nailed to a tree!  He went on to critique this imagery as repulsive.  And yet Paul said, “Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. 6:14).  Paul’s consideration of the “product” led him to truth that showed him:

  • He (Jesus Christ) loved me!
  • Sins have been wiped out
  • The sin nature has been annulled
  • The old creation has been brought to a close
  • Satan has been judged
  • Divine life has been released
  • The fallen world system has been destroyed
  • The old self has been crucified
  • I’m forgiven, justified, free!

It works the same with the news of the resurrection.  At first the product appears so anti-climactic.  An empty tomb.  A missing body.  Strange appearances of a man supposed to be dead.  But think about it and it will lead you to certain conclusions:

  • A risen Savior we can meet and walk with.
  • The judgment of the living and the dead.
  • Hope for us beyond this life.
  • Eternal Glory.

That’s the commercial I’m rooting for.


Photo Credit:  Mike Chaput

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