Truth in Advertising? Super Bowl Alcohol Commercials

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Football gear

Everyone knows that many of the fans of football’s biggest game are there for the commercials. Companies selling all types of goods—from cars to snack foods to insurance—pay top dollar (more than $2 million for 30 seconds in 2011) to spread the word about their products.

Alcohol companies are part of this media frenzy, and their messages reach all members of the TV audience—from adults to teens to young children.

Even adults have a hard time separating the myths of marketing from the truth, so see if you can figure out how the company is trying to make you want what they’re selling. Below are several real-life examples to test your skills.

2011 Super Bowl Alcohol Ads

During the Green Bay Packers’ win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, the audience saw five alcohol ads. Here are four:

The Ad: A woman and man have won a home makeover and the only change made was to put a bucket of Bud Light on the kitchen counter. The “host” of the home makeover show states that they gave the room “a fun vibe” and “clearly this is the room people want to hang out in.”

The Message: This one’s pretty obvious. Alcohol = fun = partying with more friends.

The Ad: A friend dog-sits for someone and is invited to drink the Bud Light in the freezer. Cut to a party scene with lots of attractive people being served by dogs, who have gone up on two legs to become waiters and bartenders.

The Message: This ad uses humor as its main vehicle. The dogs are funny to watch, and while the scene is absurd—obviously a dog could never serve someone a beer—the implication is that alcohol is a fun, light-hearted, even “fantastical” treat.

The Ad: Movie star Adrien Brody serenades a roomful of women with a romantic tune—only for the ladies to find out that he’s actually singing to a glass of beer.

The Message: Alcohol is romantic. This ad may appeal to women and teen girls more than men, as the ladies in the room clearly swoon for the singer.

The Ad: It’s the Wild, Wild West, and a villainous cowboy enters a saloon and threateningly asks the bartender for a “Bud.” Upon hearing the bar is out of that particular drink, the cowboy fingers his holstered gun until a deliveryman—who arrives in a wagon pulled by the ever-popular Budweiser Clydesdales—enters with an icy case of Budweiser. The scary cowboy starts to sing and soon the whole bar is harmoniously singing along.

The Message: Lack of alcohol is a serious mistake, a critical missing piece. And once alcohol is produced, all hostility melts away—implying that alcohol is a cure for problems and that it brings people together.

To cut to the truth about alcohol, check out The Cool Spot, a Web site for teens from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Find Help Near You

Use the SAMHSA Treatment Locator to find substance use or other mental health services in your area. If you are in an emergency situation, this toll-free, 24-hour hotline can help you get through this difficult time: call 1-800-273-TALK, or visit the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. We also have step by step guides on what to do to help yourself, a friend or a family member.

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