Super Bowl Sunday is one of the Biggest challenges of the year for people who have recently stopped drinking. If your friends don’t know you’ve gone sober you may find yourself in an uncomfortable spot deciding how much information to give or not, about why you’re partying alcohol-free. It’s also a challenge that alcohol is a highlight of the Super Bowl itself, in those much-anticipated adveratisements that may be triggering to the most determined newly sober person. The advertisements premiered by Budweiser beer on Super Bowl Sunday are considered by many to be endearing and enduring Americana. But at a cost of around $6.5 million for a 30-second spot, there is no question that these ads are carefully crafted marketing. Psychological manipulation at its finest.
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Psychological manipulation?! Isn’t that a bit overwrought for those adorable puppies and Clydesdales? Don’t get me wrong – those ads warm my heart and bring a tear to my eye just like they do to everyone else – you have to be pretty heartless not to melt just a little at this sort of thing. How can anyone say anything negative about the Budweiser puppy and the Clydesdales? They represent brotherhood, courage, heroism, and love. They open a brief, inspiring window to triumph over adversity. They warm our hearts and bring a tear to our eyes and represent our culture in an endearing and enduring way.
But what these advertisements will most likely not include is the beer that they are selling you …. Interesting eh? Spend a fortune on a beer ad that doesn’t actually have beer in it? Why? Because they are marketing the illusion they want to be connected to their product, not the reality of what the product actually is. Just like we were once sold cigarettes as eternal youth, nature, and fresh clean air … wine is glamour, whiskey is power, vodka is sex and beer is fellowship. Friendship. Trust.
Friendship and trust.
People often say that alcohol is a “soft drug” that has been a welcome guest at most festivals and celebrations since the beginning of time. We are taught to see addiction to alcohol as a problem with the person, not the product. If you’ve decided to go alcohol-free, the hard sell of the message that booze is soft and friendly can be a bit much to take at times and especially during events like Super Bowl Sunday. There are many great resources linked at the end of this article as tools for your Super Bowl Sunday sober toolbox, but I think that the most powerful tool to use for a great alcohol-free Super Bowl this year is knowledge. Arm yourself with an understanding of how differently we are sold alcohol to celebrate now, then those often quoted examples of historically sanctioned alcohol promotion like the wedding at Cana. Yes, we have always used alcohol to celebrate, even in the old testament its use is clearly there, but selling alcohol as the elixir of life is selling addiction. It’s just that simple.
When I was in my first months sober I read an article by Jean Kilbourne that helped me resist the pull of the alcohol advertising I saw everywhere Deadly Persuasion: 7 Myths Alcohol Advertisers Want You to Believe She has written extensively on the power of advertising to trap us in self-destructive behavior – There is a short Youtube video with her presenting excerpts of the article here. Deadly Persuasion: The Advertising of Alcohol & Tobacco
From the BBC, this is also a terrific documentary that outlines the beginning of our culture’s commercialization of products as identity. Understanding the history of where the American marketing machine began can help to shield you from the effects of those ads.
I will always enjoy those puppies and Clydesdales. It is really awfully hard not to get pulled into the mood of those ads. But understanding how they work on my brain helps me be able to stay alcohol-free, relax, and enjoy Super Bowl Sunday.
Here are some tools for your sober tool box and I hope you have a great time! Enjoy the game .
Perspective on Peer pressure : Beating Peer Pressure to Stop Drinking and Stay Sober
Perspective on the question: How Do You Tell People You Are Not Drinking?
Perspective on Fun : Will the fun be over if you stop drinking alcohol?
Perspective on friends: How Do You Stay Sober When Your Friends Encourage You to Drink?
To fortify your defenses with a bit of humor give these posts a quick read this morning. Top Ten Excuses not to Drink , make sure that you avoid these Top Ten Most Dangerous Alcoholic Drinks so that you do not have one of these tomorrow Top Ten Signs you might have a hangover and remember you do not have to drink! Top Ten Wonderful Things You’ll Miss This Weekend if You Don’t Drink
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