How did the NYT explain the warmer and fuzzier Super Bowl ads this year? (It’s not that dogs and babies aren’t regular fodder every year, but dogs and puppies did seem even more prominent — with the Budweiser “Puppy Love” ad stealing the most hearts.) They attributed it to the power of social media and viewer backlash to all the crassness last year.
Playing amateur sociologist, could it be a reaction in the culture the inundation of terror, gun violence and school shootings, wars and, particularly, extreme political polarization. If that is the case though, is Madison Avenue bathing us in denial, or are do all the puppy ads speak to a desire in the culture for a kinder and and more genial atmosphere?
With that in mind, what’s particularly interesting are those ads where the puppy actual serves as the vehicle to transcend cultural tension.
In the Cheerios interracial marriage ad, for example, as the father and daughter discuss what makes a family (there is a new baby on the way), what helps establish and cement the normalcy of this family unit is the daughter negotiating for, then closing the deal for a puppy.
Even more interesting is the arc of the Audi Doberhuahua ad. This hybrid of mad dog and tame dog reflects — through the various mayhem — terrorism, mad science and, representing alter-egos of the man and the woman, the gender war. What’s powerful, though, is how the beast is revealed to be a fantasy.
The outcome, as in the Cheerios ad, involves a resolution. If we have these instincts in us, and they’ve been running amok in different ways (like they have been, within the culture, over the past decade), the vision and message here is that they can not only be contained, but resolved.
If that’s what was being sold this year, I’m happy to buy it.