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The Top Ten Worst Super Bowl Commercials

By Lauren DuBois,
Commercials that failed to impress in the most coveted of advertising spots

I’ll admit it straight out. I’m not a huge football fan. I like it enough and understand the basics of the game, but I don’t reserve my Sundays during football season for sitting in my den with chips and beer, watching my team of choice win or lose.

This sentiment extends to the most famous football event of the year, the Super bowl. I admit that unless my beloved NY Giants (yes, I am a fan, just not a die-hard one), are in the game, I don’t pay much attention. Except for one thing—the commercials. Those catch my undivided attention every year. As I’ve watched each year though, several have stood out—either for being really good, or for being incredibly awful. With that in mind, these ten commercials are among the few that have stood out to me over the years for being bad: either the concepts failed, the actors failed, or they were just overall bad.


10. Teleflora’s “Adriana Lima” ad from 2012:

One of the oldest advertising tricks in the business is “sex sells.” And this is always prominent during the Super bowl. Hiring a famous supermodel to promote the sexual objective or message is also not new. So Teleflora’s idea shouldn’t have failed—in a way, it’s a classic. But the ad fails because the first half just shows Lima getting dressed and putting on makeup, before it cuts to a beautiful arrangement of flowers she received, and then Lima’s message of “Guys, Valentine’s Day is not that complicated. Give and you shall receive.” The ad ends with Teleflora’s tagline of “Happy Valentine’s Night.”

Granted, the Super bowl is usually only about a week or so before Valentine’s Day—but the Super bowl isn’t really the place to remind guys of that fact. Even the use of Lima isn’t going to grab their attention to the fact that the day is soon—all it does is maybe grab attention for the few seconds of her dressing, and then that same attention will go right back to the game at its return. Though Teleflora is smart to try and use the biggest advertising block of the year to try and boost more of their sales, and they acknowledge that it’s a predominately male audience, it’s still just not the place for the ad. It would do better somewhere else, on a predominately male channel like SPIKE for example, after the Super bowl ends.


9. ETRADE’s “Fatherhood” ad from 2012:

ETRADE is known for their funny commercials the last few years, using their famous baby to sell their products and services. They work because it’s a cute baby acting like a grown-up. In this case though, it was a rare miss for the company, showing the baby at a hospital nursery, looking in on presumably his own newborn with another new father, and assuring him that he can provide a stable financial future for his baby girl. Frankly, it’s not a huge failure—it’s just not quite up to par with their other commercials. The company is best off sticking to the formula where the baby is seen sitting in front of a computer. These have consistently been hilarious.


8. Volkswagen’s “The Bark Side” ad from 2012:

Volkswagen had an award-winning commercial in 2011 featuring a child trying to be Darth Vader. Considering this success, they decided to use another Star Wars approach for this commercial, using a canine chorus to sing the Star Wars anthem. What makes this commercial a failure is that compared the 2011 one, this was completely unfunny, and neither one had anything to do with new cars.


7. Bud Light’s “Dog Sitter” ad from 2011:

Though this ad didn’t intentionally try to have the message it gave off, it still portrays a sort of animal abuse, with the dog sitter making all of the dogs serve Bud Light at his party, and clean up after him. Though the attempt at humor means well, animal abuse in any form isn’t funny.


6. Bud Light’s “Farting Horse” ad from 2006:

This ad has been banned for its genuine awfulness. Portraying an attempt at romance gone wrong, it’s just wrong in general. First of all, most girls who find horse-drawn sleigh rides through snowy woods romantic are not going to be excited by their guy handing them a single votive candle and then telling her he has some beers to make the occasion memorable. Added to that, the horse farts in her face, causing the flame to flicker backwards and burn her face and hair. Yeah—definitely not romantic, and definitely not funny. If anything is going to convince a woman to NOT buy her man beer, it’s this commercial.

5. GM’s “Suicidal Robot” ad from 2007:

This ad is terrible and just plain sad. Featuring a robot that loses its job and can’t find its way back afterwards, it jumps off of a bridge and kills itself, before we realize the robot was asleep and this was all a bad dream. Promoting suicide in general is incredibly unfunny, but the ad came at a very sensitive time for several Americans. Our economy was tanking, and people were losing their jobs—including several from the automotive industry. This isn’t something that these people needed to see at the time, and that made it worse than it normally would be. It was plain insensitive to the American people.


4. Holiday Inn’s “Class Reunion” ad from 1997:

Holiday Inn pulled this ad shortly after its initial run after outcries from several groups, including Gay Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender support groups. The ad, which showed a transsexual at a class reunion and was meant to dramatize hotel renovations, was insulting to women and just in bad taste in general. Except for the offense it caused, it could all just be chalked up to a misplaced idea that showing a dramatic change in a guy’s appearance could relate to the dramatic renovations Holiday Inn was undertaking to rejuvenate the brand.


3. Apple’s “Lemmings” ad from 1985:

This ad was creepy as hell, featuring a line of blindfolded people walking through the dark, only to all fall off of a cliff. The creep-out factor puts it into the bad commercials list, and the irony of seeing it today keeps it there. Back then, Apple was referring to people who didn’t use the Macintosh as lemmings. Now, the “Apple faithful” who only use Apple products (iMac, iPod, iPad, iPhone etc.) would be considered the lemmings falling off of the cliff.


2. Skechers' “The Break-Up” ad from 2011:

Why on earth Skechers chose to use Kim Kardashian to try and sell their Shape-Ups sneakers is beyond any comprehension. She’s not convincing, and the ad focuses too much on trying to ooze her apparent sexuality to really sell a sneaker. And frankly, she really is the kind of person that shouldn’t be asked to sell the product. The only reasons she became famous to begin with were a sex tape and an affiliation with Paris Hilton. Now, she struggles to keep her fame by attempting to sell any product she can, reincarnating her reality show for every city she attempts to live in, and maintaining high-profile relationships with famous men. This was just another sad attempt to keep her fame.


1. GoDaddy’s “Shower” ad from 2009:

GoDaddy has been known for their sexually themed commercials featuring NASCAR’s Danica Patrick, and they’re never really a success (until I actually used GoDaddy to buy hosting for a personal website I made in a class, I honestly thought for a long time that they were trying to sell domain names for porn sites). But this one took it way too far, putting some computer nerds in control of Patrick’s destiny by making her take lots of showers—and adding other women into the scene.

This took overtly sexual, but still tame enough commercials, and brought them into the territory of lesbian porn. Not only is it inappropriate for mass-market television (kids watch the Super bowl too), but it’s beyond what’s necessary to try and sell a product, even to adult males. Frankly, if they want to watch two women going at it in a shower—they’ll go to actual porn sites and watch it. They don’t need GoDaddy to give it to them during the Super Bowl.

 
 

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