Badvertising: the Case of Guitar Hero

Cross-posted to Virginia NOW blog

The problem with some advertising campaigns is that they aren’t that original to begin with and then they never change.  Exhibit A, Guitar Hero.  Their current advertising campaign involves putting various celebrities, athletes, and supermodels into collared shirts and tube socks and dancing around a big house a la Tom Cruise in Risky Business.

At first, I found these commercials moderately amusing.  Look! Celebrities and athletes kickin’ it just like us regular folks by playing Guitar Hero.  Even funnier to think about them dancing around their respective houses dressed like that.  But then, I began to get a bit uncomfortable…

Why does Kobe Bryant get to wear long baggy shorts when Heidi Klum is put in lingerie?

Or how about this one: reinforcing stereotypes of masculinity 101.  Because, as Metallica will proudly tell you, “real men” don’t “prance around in their underwear,” no, they blow shit up.  Are. you. kidding. me.  (Something tells me that they wouldn’t have any problem at all with the Heidi Klum commercial above in which she “prances around in her underwear.”)

Then Guitar Hero began advertising their new 85-song/83-artist volume 5 by recruiting….Hugh Hefner and the Playboy Bunnies.  This commercial features a number of Playmates rocking out with their Guitar Hero guitars and then pans over to Hefner, who, flanked by the Shannon twins, says “What?  I like variety.”  Right, because the living, breathing, humans that surround you are nothing more than “variety” for you to enjoy without any form of self-autonomy or agency.

The last straw for me came when I saw a second version of the above commercial air today that features only Hefner and the Shannon twins– it’s for a new deal: two games for the price of one.  Hefner, again flanked by the twins, says “Two for one, sounds like a good deal to me.”  Nice, Hef.  Equate your polyamorous lifestyle and two of your live-in girlfriends with getting a video game bargain.
(Sorry, I couldn’t find a clip for that one.  But I think you get the picture.)

Guitar Hero:  time for something new!  Either get Tom Cruise to do a commercial for you and put an end to this line of commercials, or, grow up.  Actually, do both.  Recognize that gender stereotypes aren’t fun for anyone and that your games are popular with men and women.  Market to us all in less offensive and stereotypical ways.


4 responses to “Badvertising: the Case of Guitar Hero

  1. The first commercial was kind of fun to watch because it’s what I feel like some of those celebrities would do if no one (or even if someone) was watching. It was just a bunch of guys rocking out together that targeted both genders and got the point across. However, as the commercials went on, I felt uncomfortable and was disgusted! These are no longer appropriate or funny. They’re just plain old disgusting. I doubt Heidi Klum spends her afternoons in her ‘sexy lingerie’ playing guitar hero. And if she does–well–that’s personal. I don’t want to spend my afternoon watching her whip off her shirt and rock out to guitar hero.

    • Yes– and that’s EXACTLY the problem: they’re only “kind of fun to watch” and then they devolve into stereotype.
      case in point: heidi klum as you say. also, the metallica one is kind of funny, except instead of saying something that’s a gender stereotype and un-funny, they should’ve said something actually funny about how the new metallica version of guitar hero is so explosive you’ll need to play in a fallout shelter. or something.

  2. I teach many young female musicians, and I was once one myself. I remember being ignored in guitar stores and asked what kind of guitar my boyfriend played. Over the years, I have learned that some people care about music, and other people care about themselves and their primal desires. This campaign misses the mark and caters to the later. Maybe that’s really what Guitar Hero is all about though.

  3. You know, I don’t miss these commercials. They were weird anyway. There’s only so many times you can see famous people dancing around in their underwear before it gets old.

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