I watch Super Bowl ads to better understand the mood of our nation. Some of the best minds in advertising have been hired to analyze the national mindset – with the intent to manipulate our purchasing behavior. This year the consensus seems to favor the need for relief. If the ads have their intended effect, you will come away with a happy, positive attitude. It’s “let the good times roll” and “cast your cares away.”
Ad agency executives sense the country is looking for a reprieve from its problems, including the surging coronavirus, an uncertain economy, and political divisiveness. Susan Credle, FCB’s Chief Creative Officer, notes, “People want to laugh and they want to feel normal again.” Sarah Long of Mars Wrigley believes people “want to smile, they want to be positive.”
In recent years ads have tackled heavy issues like cyberbullying, domestic violence, and gender stereotyping. This year the ads will pay little attention to the pandemic because people have been bombarded with “stay safe” or “we’ll all in this together.” “Every marketer is being very careful right now because of all the tumultuous events around the world,” observed John Patroulis of WPP PLC’s Grey. “You don’t want your ad to be misconstrued or be controversial,” he added.
I must admit the ads in these last few years have been much easier on the male ego, since culture seems to have accepted the idea of “toxic masculinity.” As you watch the ads and enjoy the game, however, my suggestion would be: think the opposite. The ads tell us to avoid our pain; I say, “Stand in the pain.” See yourself as “a wounded healer.”
First, Super Bowl ads can tell us something about life but they cannot deliver the “Good News.” It’s all make-believe. Ads only touch the surface of our lives; they are like bandages trying to hide the wounds of broken hearts and wounded souls. Our nation needs deep soul care. We desperately need Jesus the gentle healer. “… It was our pains he carried – our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us… it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him – our sins! (Is. 53:4-5 MSG). There is a place to go with pain. Bring it to Jesus. Only he can truly heal the hurting heart.
Secondly, the ad industry might discern the state of our nation better than the Church. But it only covers up the pain. If we are to bring healing to our fractured nation, we need to address the wounds of the heart. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Ps 34:18).
Thirdly, don’t use ads as an excuse to escape from reality. We are to stand in the pain as men in our ordained places as husbands and fathers. The enemy wants to take us out. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). But we are called to stand in the gap. “I looked for a man… [to] stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none” (Ez. 22:30).
Fourthly, deliberately make fun of the ads, knowing they are in conflict with your spirit. They accentuate our struggles, warring against our spirit. “The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other…” (Gal 5:16-17).