Body Painting on TV in a Superbowl Ad, a Good Thing, Right?

by Christopher Agostino

There’s a TV ad coming for the Superbowl that features body painting, sort of. “Uses” it, really. In line with their Superbowl ads of the past it shows much of an apparently naked women being minimally painted, and invites the viewer to rush to their website to see just how the naked the model really is. Because, as we all know, the only reason to body paint a women is to get her naked. Oh well.

When I heard there was a Superbowl ad with body painting I thought that might be a real good thing, get some quality body art into the public eye on a big stage, (like that cool series of ads with the  painted clothes being washed off to sell plumbing equipment) but although this is disappointing I think that’s all it is, an opportunity missed rather than any kind of blight on the good name of body painting. The salacious nature of too much body painting is too available for any of us to be too sensitive when someone makes a mockery of the art to sell sex in a TV ad.

It says something about our bizarro cultural values that it is apparently profitable to spend hundreds of thousands of advertising dollars using body paint to tease an audience about the possibility of seeing a naked breast yet photographs of fully painted breast cancer survivors get banned on Facebook. That’s what I was looking into, researching that censorship issue regarding the Breast Cancer Awareness Body Painting Project photos and Facebook (see the previous post when I ran across the godaddy ad. Maybe that’s why the ad didn’t annoy me as much as it might, because the juxtaposition of those two uses of body art is so absurd. The body painting community has a long way to go to fully elevate its status above accusations of pornography when such an obviously positive social act as painting breast cancer survivors to help them reclaim their self image is cast in that light, and when a Superbowl TV ad presenting the biggest media exposure that body art is going to get explicitly uses it as an invitation to see something pornographic.

The godaddy thing is not much of a surprise. American advertising has always used sex to sell product, and if in the minds of the public “body painting = sex” than ads like this are to be expected. If there is a battle to be fought I think it is on the other end, when positive, artistic examples of body art are censored. Ultimately, I think it is the public’s exposure to the quality and significance of the art that will elevate the status of body painting. This is why the censorship issue with Facebook seems more troubling to me than seeing the art misused by godaddy. It is so inappropriate for Facebook to ban the body painting photos of brave breast cancer survivors who made the choice to appear topless as art. These are women with their bodies transformed by circumstances of disease beyond their control, taking new control of their bodies by allowing their new bodies to be seen naked, protected by the art they are wearing, and that should be respected, not vilified. They should be celebrated. That’s the ad that should be on TV during the Superbowl.


Some bodypainting in commercial videos:

Carolyn Roper’s very fun work in an Irish National Lottery commercial:

Air New Zealand “Nothing to Hide” video: and their “Bare Essentials” safety video:   Carmel McCormick is the bodypainter for the ads, find her work at: New Zealand Body Art.  (

See my fine art bodypainting at

To learn more about our programs and performances:

One comment on “Body Painting on TV in a Superbowl Ad, a Good Thing, Right?

  1. Shawna D says:

    yes and it’s too bad that they didn’t use the sctual artist Karina Konupek in the commercial.

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