The Ultimate Super Bowl Ad

I saw some interesting ads yesterday watching the Super Bowl–the Doritos one made me chuckle, the puppy baby one was kind of gross, and I was mildly annoyed at the car commercial (I think it was Audi?) with the former astronaut comparing driving the new car to piloting a rocket.  Seriously?  There’s so much cultural and political force behind space exploration–comparing launching a rocket to driving a new car seemed trite.

But one Super Bowl ad struck me most: the Quicken Loans mortgage one.  It is the ultimate Super Bowl ad.  The premise is Quicken wants to streamline the mortgage experience to boost the economy.  This would occur by more homeowners buying and selling homes, and thus buying and selling more stuff.

This ad plays into many cultural currents: technology as savior, upward mobility, and the pleasure principle (buying more and new things makes and keeps us happy).  The commercial’s emphasis on the latter current is most striking and most troublesome.  The whole point of a commercial–especially on the night of a quasi-holy day celebration of sports, greasy food, and alcohol–is to stir up the desire to want the buy more and new things.  The blatant admission of such an aim is telling.

I’m no economist; the economic principle is intuitive though: the more people purchase things, the better off we are as an economy.  Buying things supports jobs, which support families, which support communities.  How long can we keep it up?  Are we so selfish so as to only be motivated by the pursuit of more comfort and avoiding pain?  Is there not something–anything–more important than that in life?  What about family?  Friendship?

Of course.  No one is guided only by own motive for happiness.  In this affluent age, we all get caught up from time to time in minding our own comfort, perhaps at the expense of other, more meaningful values.  But my biggest concern is what institution is fighting for our attention in support of those values?  So many voices clamor for space in our minds–media being one of the strongest voices.

Which institution fights for the airspace of your mind that announces to you the ultimate values–those that matter for peace in your soul?

I’d love to watch a Super Bowl ad selling that.

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