Super Bowls are known as much for the high budget, supposedly clever commercials as they are for football. Without even getting into the politics behind some of the ads for Super Bowl LI, it is safe to say most were forgettable.
The memorable ones were those that took shots at President Donald Trump or made some other political statement. But far more were examples of what has become of Super Bowl ads in recent decades: expensive stories that have nothing to do with the product they’re selling.
This year’s worst was the ad from auto giant Audi, featuring a young girl competing in a soap box derby with boys. The narrator, her father, speaks of her worth, alleging women are valued less by society than men.
“What do I tell my daughter?” he asks. “Do I tell her that her grandpa is worth more than her grandma? That her dad is worth more than her mom? Do I tell her that despite her education, her drive, her skills, her intelligence, she will automatically be valued as less than every man she ever meets? Or maybe, I’ll be able to tell her something different.”
Audi ends the ad by saying: “Audi of America is committed to equal pay for equal work.”
There are many things wrong with the ad and Audi’s statement. First, equal pay has been the law in America since 1963. Second, Audi misleadingly makes it seem like all women are valued less than all men—no matter what.
That’s demonstrably untrue.
Audi is clearly talking about the gender wage gap—the difference between what men and women earn. Even the term “wage gap” is misleading. It’s more accurately referred to as an “earnings gap,” because it’s really measuring what men and women earn each year.
In looking at hourly wages, men and women make the same—but women work fewer hours than men, for several reasons. Women are more likely to take time off to care for children or a family. Now, sometimes there isn’t much choice when a loved one becomes sick, but often, the decision to take time off to raise children is entirely the woman’s decision.
Those who continually claim there’s a “wage gap,” believe men and women are equal and therefore any differences are the result of discrimination. This just isn’t true. Some women want the same things out of life that men want, but many women value family over career or income.
And the wage gap almost completely disappears when comparing men and women with the same jobs, experience and education. Further, young women in metropolitan areas are actually earning more than their male counterparts. A lot of that has to do with the fact that women are now 50 percent more likely to graduate college than men.
Audi also basically debunked their own Super Bowl ad on Twitter. After tweeting their commercial, one woman responded, asking if Audi pays their female workers less.
“You pay your female employees less than males?” she asked. “You know that’s against the law, right?”
Audi’s official Twitter account responded: “When we account for all the various factors that go into pay, women at Audi are on par with their male counterparts.”
So when they have a wage gap, it’s due to “factors,” but everyone else’s wage gap is due to discrimination. This is the same tactic the Obama White House used when it was discovered women, on average, were earning less than men. The gap was due to more women in junior positions, with more men in senior positions. But when earnings are compared, women as a whole are compared to men as a whole.
Audi learned this the hard way after the Super Bowl ad aired, when people started noting that no women sit on its management board. This too, however, makes the “wage” gap more about parity than actual pay. Activists are seeking parity between men and women, rather than equality.
Audi, of course, wasn’t the only ad to touch on a political subject. Budweiser and 84 Lumber brought up immigration, and Airbnb highlighted diversity. No ad suggested support for Trump or his policies in any way.
While these sanctimonious virtue signalers attempted to draw Trump’s opposition to their companies, they turned off those who support Trump, and anyone who just doesn’t like their products to be politicized. I don’t know what the male-female earnings gap has to do with buying an expensive car (that people who are really suffering in American couldn’t afford).
The immigration ads made a bit more sense. Coming into this country illegally and going to a place that sells building materials (like, say, for a wall) makes sense, even if it is a bit contrived. Telling the story of Budweiser’s founder’s immigration to America (if it’s all true) would be a beautiful story if it didn’t seem so politically timed (though the ad was obviously made long before Trump’s executive order, it had to have been in the works during the 2016 election, when Trump’s statements on immigration were constantly attacked in the mainstream media).
I don’t agree with boycotting any of these companies because of these ads. If people were to boycott every company that made statements out of line with their political beliefs, there’d be hardly anything left to buy. But it would be nice if we could all just sit down and enjoy a game of football without having politics shoved in our faces. We get enough of that every other minute of the day.