Religion and Super Bowl Commercials

In any given year, the most money spent on TV commercials comes with the most watched TV event of the year— the Super Bowl. And believe it or not there have been commercials made that deal with religion, such as the recent pro-faith and pro-life commercial involving Tim Tebow which aired during the last Super Bowl. But there have been other crassly commercial attempts to lure the faithful to more use of certain junk food products. Here’s an example of a commercial that, on further review, did not, and should not have seen the light of day.

Let’s consider for a moment why this commercial is offensive. While we are considering I’ll tell you a truish story about a mega-church that decided it would be o.k. to serve Koolaide and Cheese Nibs as the elements in a communion service attended by seekers. They had thought this might make seekers feel more comfortable, more at home, until one of them came up to the pastor and said: “Know what I liked about that service?” When the pastor said no, she replied “I liked that we stopped in the middle and had snacks.” The pastor later admitted this conjured up an unacceptable image in his head “This is my snack, given for you.” Which is also precisely the reaction that this commercial produced when test marketed, presumably to Christians. What this and other such attempts to use religion as a marketing tool does is trivialize the sacred. Indeed, some would say we are talking about sacrilege here, not merely trivializing the sacred. What do you think?

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  • Susan_G1

    This advertisement is offensive on many levels, showing an almost incredible insensitivity to the beliefs of Christians. Surely, it could not have been intended for us. First, the pastor seems to be worried not about the saving of souls but the payment of debt (he wants to increase the church’s numbers to increase revenue). Different denominations are insulted (implied Baptist, Amish, etc.) and a flirty interaction over the zero-calories of pepsi takes place. But to imagine Doritos and Pepsi as the body and blood of Christ is stunningly hostile.

    I appreciate humor, even parody. But this is really over-the-top.

    Having said that, I feel somewhat insulted that you have offered up for our moral indignation an ad which was never aired, an was even removed from youtube when it first appeared two years ago. My question to you is: why?

  • BenW3

    Thanks Susan for this thoughtful response. The answer is simple enough. It is very revealing of something that is at the heart of America, namely exploitation of almost anything, even religion for the purpose of selling a product. For too long Christians have just assumed that there is no contradiction between what is at the heart of our economic mechanisms and Christianity. But frankly there is. Our system as we have it is profoundly narcissistic, greedy, and it exploits especially the poor. This advertisement, even though withdrawn shows the lengths to which some will go to make a buck. It ought to make us think, and clearly from your reaction it did. Rightly so. Blessings BW3

  • Susan_G1

    Not trying to be argumentative; I agree with almost everything said above. However, I think that holding up as an example an ad made by two men (not a corporation or an advertising agency) submitted into a contest, which not only never even made it off youtube, but was quickly removed because it was so offensive, is misleading. This ad is the result of one actor/producer’s thinking, not our economic mechanisms. Also (and this is said with profound sadness), do you not see the same qualities (narcissim, greed, and exploitation) evinced in the church? Surely you remember Jimmy Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart and Robert Tilton? What else could cause Mark Driscoll to go on The View? Or CJ Mahaney to be supported by so many other pastors? It is not just our economic mechanisms which are faulty. We are all faulty. We are sinners. Which does not mean that advertisers will not stoop to the basest instinct to sell something.

  • Esteban

    As a missionary in South America I have seen crackers and
    other types of juices used for the Lord’s Supper. All the same Communion was
    celebrated in a thoughtful and holy way. This commercial makes trivial of the sacred
    and that is a rather sad and scary thing. My undergraduate degree is in
    business but I have gone out of my way over the years to teach new believers
    that following Jesus should never be confused with capitalism. Sadly enough the
    new brand of so called Christianity that has emerged in Latin America is a
    curious mix of animism, capitalism, Old Testament symbolism, and very little of
    “take up your cross and follow me!” I have never been much of a Pepsi guy but I
    just gave up my weekly pack of Doritos.

  • RandyS47

    In a word, sacrilege. But then, it seems the only thing viewed as sacrilege these days is not watching the Super Bowl.