Oh No They Didn’t! Super Bowl Ads Try To Profit From Controversy

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January 30, 2013 ‐ By C. Cleveland
A still from Kate Upton's Super Bowl ad for Carl's Jr.

A still from Kate Upton’s Super Bowl ad for Carl’s Jr.

The Super Bowl is more than a football game. During commercial breaks and on YouTube, companies are playing a Super Bowl of their own, competing to capture the world’s attention without embarrassing themselves. Any Real Housewives Of Atlanta fan can tell you how difficult that game is to master.

First possession of 2013 goes to Volkswagen. If you haven’t seen their ad featuring a proud Minnesotan talking like he works weekend shifts at the Jerk Pit, you clearly don’t work in a cubicle. Catch up, so you can engage in one of America’s favorite pastimes, a round of “Is That Racist?”

Does it matter that 100 Jamaicans are okay with the ad? Would it make it better if White Jamaicans existed? Do they exist? (FYI, they’re 3.2 percent of the country’s population. Yes, I Google’d and YouTube’d it. I was intrigued.) None of this really means anything. Some people find the commercial offensive. They may or may not be Jamaican.

Volkswagen knows their happy little commercial has a little edge to it. Edgy enough to talk to 100 Jamaicans. And make a back up ad. But standing out this time of year sometimes requires taking a little more risk. Success is determined by a simple premise: If the controversy outshines the product, you lose.

When the controversy puts an ad at the top of the news hour across the country, and the world collectively says, “Oh, that’s not so bad.” Companies like Volkswagen win. Bonus points if a few people say, “I love this ad” or “That’s a nice car he was driving.”

Here are a few attempts from Super Bowls past where companies have pushed the envelope to varying degrees, with varying levels of success. Is it a touchdown, or did they fumble the advertising budget?

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  • Sharon J

    I am still ticked off at Pepsi for that commercial with the black couple and the white girl. I don’t even support Pepsi. Stereotyping black women as angry. I came to the conclusion for me is the best way to help stop it by not purchasing any products or don’t support anything that degrades blacks and especially black women in general.

  • chanela

    to answer the question about the carls jr commercials, their new commercial slogan is ” that’s just the way it is” so uhhh… that’s their response right there. they’ll have random bikini clad bony chicks in the commercials who don’t even know what a hamburger looks like, then they’ll say “that’s just the way it is”. how sad. those burgers are good! they don’t need naked chicks to sell it. kate upton looks like a a hamster to me btw

  • JaneDoe

    Obama got re-elected mofus don’t care at all..

  • Dichu eba realy lub mehSteebie

    that carls jr commercial was innapropiate on so many levels

    • Kenedy

      Lmao! Your user name..wow, thanks for the laugh