Super Bowl Ads: How far is too far?

Super Bowl Sunday won’t be here for a few more days, but many companies have been at work for months preparing their ad campaign for their 30 seconds of your attention – at a price tag of $3 million this year according to the Richmond-Times Dispatch.
They go all-out on their Super Bowl ads to grab your attention while you’re clutching your football on the couch.  After all, they are the most-watched commercials during any show.  They can make or break a company’s reputation with the millions of viewers and the backlash from the media when its all said and done.

Clips from the Top 10 Super Bowl Ads of 2010

There is always heated discussion around the water cooler on Monday about the commercials that made the grade.  Don’t kid yourself – that talk is pretty powerful.  Last year’s Snicker Super Bowl ad jump-started Betty White’s career at the age of 88 – she went on to be named entertainer of the year by the Associated Press.  When the people and the pundits agree that you have the best commercial of the year its like winning the Oscar.
Kantar Media reports that a third of the advertisers last year used 10% of the annual media budgets on that spot alone.  In fact, some companies are opting to release their Super Bowl ads early online to create buzz and get more bang out of their buck.

But how far is too far?

What about the companies that went too far and were banned from showing their Super Bowl ad? It seems that some of the ones shown went too far (think Go Daddy), so the banned ones must be really distasteful – right?
Check them out for yourself:
It seems to me that PETA is guilty of the exploitation of women when trying to grab your attention of the exploitation of animals.
You get the picture without seeing any more than just the picture. This video features scantily clad women in suggestive stances with vegetables. Viewer discretion is advised – it was banned for a reason.

Of course, we all expect the beer companies to go too far in their Super Bowl ads.

Do these companies lose money because they didn’t see their Super Bowl ad go to air?  I don’t think so.  After all, they live a life of their own online and in the media as they are talked about (just like we’re doing here!)
It brings some questions to mind:

  • Do they not know where the line is, or do they think they’re “pushing the envelope”?
  • Is it possible that they went too far on purpose to receive “negative attention” because they knew they couldn’t be #1 on Super Bowl Sunday anyway?
  • Do they not realize that commercials voted the best don’t contain skimpily-clad girls, sexual innuendo or other items not considered family friendly?
  • Do they not realize that viewers of all ages will be watching the Super Bowl game?

I guess the bottom line is “What were they thinking?”

This year they are thinking.

It is estimated that half of the audience during Super Bowl Sunday will be women, and companies are updating their advertising policy to reach these viewers this year.  USA Today reports that Faith Hill will be the new spokesperson for Teleflora this year, compared to Don Rickles last year.
Go Daddy will have a Super Bowl ad that empowers women using fitness trainer Jillian Michaels and race car driver Danica Patrick as superheroes crashing through walls to find people who don’t have websites yet.
Of course, Go Daddy also has  a second hush-hush commercial planned with a new spokesperson introduced in a provocative way.  They seem to pride themselves in making ads that they know will offend who they consider the “vocal minority”. ( CBS reports that Fox rejected their commercial.)
They say sex sells.    Or do you think its a sell out?   What kind of Super Bowl Ads do you prefer – sexy or creative genius?


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