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Sorry, 49ers and Ravens, but you just might get upstaged at the 2013 Super Bowl by Kate Upton. The sultry model's Mercedes commercial is generating buzz for sexy shots that have already been released online. And it's no surprise. With more than 100 million viewers on game day -- and ads costing nearly $4 million -- advertisers are willing to do just about anything to get attention. A lot of the ads will be fun and light. But many will be wildly age inappropriate for kids.
Here's just a sampling of what you can expect. Gildan Activewear's ad shows a man waking up, Hangover-style, confused by the fur handcuffs dangling from his wrist. Anheuser-Busch employs a sequin-clad model to introduce its new beer. And Kraft Foods' Mio water drops features Tracy Morgan unleashing a stream of bleeped-out expletives that leave little to the imagination.
Sneak peeks of these commercials have been accessible online for days. You can find behind-the-scenes footage, so-called director's cuts that are much racier than what they can broadcast on TV, and social media activities to get viewers interacting with brands. So even if you try to manage what kids watch on game day, they can come in contact with lots of totally age-inappropriate content on YouTube and other sites.
Some sponsors are keeping a lid on their ads, so you never know when a commercial might show age-inappropriate graphic violence. Shielding kids from stuff you don't want to see is a challenge when all you want to do is just enjoy the game as a family.
Of course, some ads are entertaining -- even innovative. But watching them with a critical eye helps your kids resist media messages you don't want them to absorb. Here are some suggestions for ad-proofing your kids:
Kids under 7 may not understand that an ad's purpose is to sell them a product rather than entertain them. You can point out that the ads they see during the Super Bowl are really meant for grown-ups. Ask them what they think the ads are selling. Sometimes they won't even know. And hit the mute button for alcohol ads or spots with violent content. Neither is age appropriate.
Share some facts. The food and beverage industry spends more than $10 billion targeting children and youths though TV ads, coupons, contests, public relations promotions and packaging. And 80 percent of the TV commercials are for fast food, candy, cereal and toys.
Give your kids some ad-proofing decoder tips: Ask them who they think created the ad and why they're sending the messages they are. Who makes money from the ads? What tricks do your kids think the advertisers used to make them want to buy the products being promoted? Does an ad use a favorite celebrity? Does it have some feelings associated with the product -- like happiness? What isn't the ad telling them? No sign of nutritional information? Alcohol illegal for people under age 21? The featured video game costs a mint?
Distinguish fantasy from reality. How many calories are in that jumbo burger and soda and those extra-large fries? How many hours of exercise would it take to burn those calories off?
If your kids are too young to understand the ad, hit the mute button. Whether it's a Viagra commercial, a political ad, or anything else that feels uncomfortable, you may have to have a conversation you weren't expecting. If your kids are old enough to talk about the issues, make sure that they're learning about your perspective and values from you, not getting secondhand opinions from the media or uninformed kids on the playground.