One Step Forward - Super Bowl

by Ashley Van Spengen

With the NFL’s Super Bowl, so came it’s commercials, and the halftime show. Football has held no interest for myself, but the commercials… that is what I pay attention to. Having had classes in advertisement, and a bachelors in Visual Communication, how could I not be drawn to one of the year's biggest events of corporate commercials?

Last year, Tide used this platform to, well, ‘clean up’ it’s act, after the infamous TidePod Challenge. Along with having the world’s largest corporations paying millions of dollars for a thirty second commercial to be played on the big stage, corporations such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, etc. But this year was a little different. This year the large corporate giants pulled back it’s strings, using it’s funds towards a COVID-19 vaccine, and allowed smaller companies to shine in their own spotlights. 

I won’t go through every commercial shown at this 2021 Super Bowl, but there are a few that caught my eye, and some I honestly wish I had that time back. Now don’t get me wrong, I love me some Dolly Parton and Shaggy. I jam out to ‘9 to 5’ on the daily, and anyone who grew up during the early 2000’s should remember ‘It Wasn’t Me’, so Squarespace and Cheetos got me and I just had to go down memory lane with those songs once again. But others were cringey and downright frightening ( I’m looking at you Matthew McConaughey), I don't think anyone was ready for a realistic Flat Stanley (by Jeff Brown)  situation, and I hope that no movie production tries to pick that back up.  

But enough about those, as a homecare and medical supplies store, I should talk about the ones that definitely stood out. Ford, Dexcom, and Toyota. I know, medical and alcohol don't go together, but I’ll explain why these four commercials should be talked about.

Ford and its #FinishStrong. This wasn’t a commercial about a car, or the newest car with a new view on fuel efficiency. It’s highlighting ongoing struggles and efforts to fight the coronavirus, stating that “soon we will be what we were — touching, loving, living.” but the company is recognizing we still aren’t done with the race, but now, we can see the finish line, and as each person who gets vaccinated that red tape, that line, that finish gets that much closer. While researching this campaign, Ford has also donated an approximation of 155 million masks and other PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) items to underserved communities. While also designing clear masks (patent-pending approval) that is expected to certify to N95 standards of virus elimination that allows for better expression and communication, and is able to benefit hearing-impaired individuals who read lips.
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Dexcom, now this company we do not supply in store at this time, but it’s a company that develops, manufactures, and distributes continuous glucose monitoring systems for diabetes management. The commercial wasn’t that spectacular, just Nick Jonas explaining that we have the technology to go to Mars, vacuums that don’t need to be pushed, drones that deliver, but type 1 diabetics are still pricking their fingers to figure out their count. Now, there’s a bit of controversy to this actually, you see there are very few Type 1 diabetics who don't know about the expensive monitoring system, so the commercial to it’s target didn’t make much sense, the reason for more people not getting the monitor isn’t because they don’t know about the product, but rather because of financial decisions. A single sensor goes for $100 CAD, or a subscription kit would cost $299 a month. That being said, as someone without diabetes, it was interesting to know there was such a product, after seeing a friend of mine constantly having to prick their finger after a meal, or when we go out for a hike to the mountains, and seeing a star publicly talking about the struggle it can allow the talk about these norms out into the open, instead of the dust that’s been swept under the rugs. So maybe the marketing team thought it would allow this aliment out into the open, or interest Type 2 diabetics, or something entirely different. 

I know, another car company! But this one, felt like something needed. After such a year with hardships, and disaster, sometimes one spark of hope can cause a fire of warmth. We all know hardships, some more than others, and all to varying degrees, but it’s something that as humans we all know. We know there’s bad days, but we also know there’s good days, even if sometimes it’s hard to find them. But that one line from this commercial, that “It might not be easy but it’ll be amazing”, is so impactful because we all have that one person in our lives that has shown us that little bit of kindness, that hope and no matter how much we want to give up, they pull us up and tell us that they’re with us, every  step of the way, and that we can keep going. Being able to get up every day this year, and the last has shown we have a crazy amount of strength just to keep going. And even if we don’t want to admit it, we have a hope for a new and better day ahead.

What can these commercials tell us? Why are these the ones that I’ve pointed out out of the many shown during the Super Bowl?

Well, each shows struggles, and pushes us to move forward, whatever that way may be. This year has been one of the most difficult ones in this millennia, and from some individuals, times were difficult before, with two recessions, wars, losing jobs, losing families or just the feeling of losing yourself. This past year has been a mess, all thing considering, and most of it was things no one could have controlled. These commercials I found, showed us that, that struggle that may not be personal, but understandable and relatable in terms of there being a struggle, not the same struggle, in this pandemic. Letting us know that we’re not in this alone, even if it feels like it sometimes, and with hope, compassion and strength we can move up that mountain that’s been in our way this year, one step at a time.

One step.

Because even if you take one, single step forward you’ll be further ahead than you were before, and one step closer to the top. So lift your head, with all the hope, compassion and strength you can muster and step. Step, and raise you head high, because the sun is shining just behind the clouds, that will soon be swept by the wind. Step, because you’re human, and you will not back down. With your strength, you’ve made it this far, so step because everyone is here, cheering you on.

That’s what they’re saying. Or at least, that's the message I perceive.  

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