Got Change for A Dozen? The Lie of Botanic Prostitution
As both a sports fan and a professional marketer, the Super Bowl has a double appeal for me. On display are some of the world’s greatest athletes as well as some of the world’s brightest marketers.
Put Your Money Where Your Message Is
On January 3, the USA Today reported that the average cost for a 30-second commercial during Super Bowl XLVI, was $3.5 million dollars. Even the most basic economic thinker can discern that this means that several hundred companies believe that they can communicate a message or a series of messages that will influence their audience to consume products in such a way that will eventually make a profit for their company. For even the less economically inclined mind, that means Doritos has to sell an awful lot of chips to profit from their two hilarious commercials.
Advertising 101: Know Your Audience
Yet another reason I am interested in such an over-hyped football game is that it provides a pulse on American culture. The dazzling technology, the half-time entertainment, the ads and even the game’s commentators all reflect underlying beliefs. The ads in particular reflect what some of the world’s brightest cultural scientists (AKA marketers) think lay deepest and closest to the American psyche.
Sex Sells: Hormonal Manipulation
Its no secret that Americans are utterly sex crazed. This is a point so well documented that I don’t feel obligated to spill any digital ink to make this point. Moreover, Super Bowl advertisers have a long, embarrassing history of depending on hormonal manipulation to make a buck. Yet last night had one of the most blatantly offensive ads that I can recall.
Rather than encouraging you to revisit the Teleflora Super Bowl ad, let me summarize its message for you. Audiences are tempted and teased for 20 seconds by seductive model who is dressing in anticipation of an alluring night of romantic adventure. At the end of the ad, she leans in and says: “Guys, Valentine’s day is not that complicated. Give and you shall receive.” Teleflora then wishes it’s viewers a Happy Valentine’s Night.
Now, I will seek to refrain from discussing how degrading this message is to women, who apparently are so pliable that they need nothing more than several aromatic stems before she lets a man tinker with her heart and body. Nor let myself rant about how degrading this is even to men who apparently are so stupid that they can’t understand the cultural norms of the Hallmark of holidays. But I will not refrain from deconstructing the shameless and immodest message of this shallow ad.
Even Hollywood Love Knows Better Than That
The advertising buffoons over at Teleflora seem to be suggesting this: ‘Men, we know your only goal is to ‘receive’ some satisfaction on Valentines night, so don’t be stupid. Buy our flowers so you can become sexually satisfied.
Though I have written down nine or so ways this message is destructive to the Christian understanding of love (not to mention the cheap Hollywood fantasy of love), I will limit myself to one major point. The essence of Biblical love is one of giving, not for selfish manipulation, but “expecting NOTHING in return.” Even more, Christians are called to love even our enemies, those who hate us (Matt. 5:44), for this is in fact how we have been loved by Christ (Rom. 5:10).
Real Love? Lay Down For Her
This Valentines Day, I will seek the same goal that as a husband I am called to every day: to find ways to communicate to my wife that my love for her is ‘without condition’ and free from reciprocal obligations. That I delight in her for who she is, not what she can give me. In fact, that even when she fails to live up to my expectations, that since I have known such radically sacrificial love from Christ even when I was an enemy, that I am delightfully compelled and eager to love her.
You see, Christian love finds its roots in the stunning reality of Romans 5:8 “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This divine love is the model for all true earthly love: namely that love considers the welfare of another above its own.
Men, sure, buy your wife flowers… but cut the razor-sharp strings that you may be tempted to attach to them. Don’t prostitute your girl for a dozen roses. And don’t demand that she ‘lay down’ for you. Rather as one who has known radical and unmerited love from a Savior, ‘lay down’ your life for hers.