Masculinity in Focus: Super Bowl 50

Masculinity in Focus: Super Bowl 50

Each year, the Super Bowl acts as a referendum on the state of masculinity. And while this year’s ads are no exception, two were particularly notable for how in-tune they are with Millennials’/Gen-Z’s rejection of labels, categorization, and stereotypes. We’ve already talked about Axe’s significant shift in tone and depth on The Gild Think.


But the other surprise storyteller was BMW’s MINI. The pride-steeped spot, armed with stereotype-defying celebrities like Serena Williams, Tony Hawk, and Harvey Keitel, positions MINI as an unflinching force of originality in the face of conformism. Perhaps most subtly/creatively/effectively, it captures a tone and tenor that resonates with millions of Americans on either side of the political aisle during this year’s unprecedented presidential race.


With every trend, there’s a counter trend. And in this case, the counter trend – pride in the conventional – was delivered most directly by Budweiser. With its thundering Clydesdale hoof beats, huge title cards, and jabs at craft beer drinkers, the masculinity heralded in the spot drips with chest-beating neanderthalism.


As definitions of masculinity are challenged and forged anew, many, many men seek the security and familiarity of the “old rules.” The Budweiser spot framed these age-old rules in a contemporary (if at times coded and offensive) veil, effectively connecting with the relevant sentiment carried by these guys.


This year’s tonal stretch is a nice reminder that no demographic is a monolith. And by choosing a group to speak with, brands can become rallying cries, badges of honor, and raised flags for their way of life. After all, if you’re gonna say something, say something worth listening to.

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