Super Bowl, arguably the most watched sporting event on TV, with approximately 99million American viewers, yearly features dozens of advertisements, making hundreds of millions of dollars for the NBC network. Super Bowl XLIII, played and aired on February 1, 2009 featured 30-second commercials costing $3million, exclusive of production costs. One of the many Super Bowl ads imprinted on my mind was that of monster. com’s “Double-take”.
The 30-second ad ran in the third quarter and featured two men sharing a wall, one side with a moose’s head on it and other with the moose’s rear sticking out of it, with the line “Need a new job? ” The advert directed audiences to Monster’s newly rebuilt website. The ad started with the outside view of a building, with pillars and the sound of traffic. The camera moves into the inside view of a building-into an office space where the sound of traffic is drowned by opera music.
Inside the office is a man comfortable in his surroundings, the room is wreaking of elegance…sunlight shining through a window pane, man reading a newspaper with his feet on top of his mahogany table, the room is filled with antique furniture and features a wide collection of books, at the very center of the room is an animal, seemingly a prize won by the man in one of his hunting conquests. This part of the ad shows the boss.
The camera then pans out of the comfortable surroundings on what is behind the boss…an employee, working in a cramped, fluorescent light-lit environment with the sound of a noisy printer and keyboard background, on his end is the rear of an animal. He is the power behind the throne. The message is this: “You’re doing all the hard work! Wouldn’t you rather have a job where you get paid fairly, instead of a job where some rich jerk gets to profit from your labor? ” The concept is that there is a boss who just collects a big check for sitting all day and that it is the guy behind the wall who is really working, but he has a terrible job.
The commercial does weird things with it though. The main theme of the commercial is conflict – conflict between the boss and the worker, the rich and the middle class, the head and the body. But it is mixing symbolism. The boss is listening to opera. If the viewer is supposed to sympathize with the worker, this should mean the viewer is supposed to dislike opera because it is a symbol of the opressor. The boss is also reading a newspaper – so the viewer should dislike the newspaper. The symbols associated with the boss are intellectual refinement – music, books, news, the globe, etc. It is a class warfare ad.