SBD/February 7, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Super Bowl Ads: Sophomoric Humor, Questionable Language Returns To Game

Several ads that ran during last night's Super Bowl XLV broadcast "went for humor that some viewers might consider inappropriate," including Teleflora and Mini Cooper, according to Rob Owen of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. Teleflora included singer Faith Hill saying the phrase, "Dear Kim, your rack is unreal," and Mini Cooper's ad showcased a game show-style television show called "Cram It In The Boot." Meanwhile, Groupon "gets the Bad Taste Award for its spot that began like a humanitarian fundraiser pitch before switching gears" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 2/7). In N.Y., Stuart Elliott kept a running blog of the ads and asked if this is the "racy-language ad bowl?" Elliott: "First, Eminem says 'damn' in a spot for Lipton Brisk, then an actor in a Teleflora spot with Faith Hill uses the word 'rack' in describing his girlfriend's, er, um, charms." He later wrote, "I saw at least one comment on Twitter from a mother saying she had to explain to a child what 'rack' meant" (NYTIMES.com, 2/6). On Long Island, Verne Gay writes of Teleflora’s ad, “Maximal buzzkill in the span of 30 seconds -- Faith Hill bantering with a boob who texts, or e-mails, (or who cares) the first thing that pops into his head about his girlfriend” (NEWSDAY, 2/7).

MORE LOW-BROW HUMOR: In Denver, Joanne Ostrow writes Pepsi Max' ads "seemed not just brutal and politically incorrect but terribly old-fashioned." Ostrow: "Throwing a can of no-calorie soda at a woman, knocking her off the bench? Another can launched at a preppie guy, hitting his privates? When does aggressive, pain-inducing violence lose its appeal as a sales tool, even for a testosterone-heavy football crowd?" Doritos presented "another grotesque effort," as it "pushed the homophobic -- or maybe just outmoded -- button with its suggestive finger-licking, crumby-pants-smelling ads" (DENVER POST, 2/7). AD AGE's Ken Wheaton ranked Skechers' ad as the worst of the night, giving it just one star. He wrote, "Skechers is just plain sketchy in an ad that makes GoDaddy look like a class act." Kim Kardashian gives a performance that "seems to purposely strive for the look and feel of low-budget porn" (ADAGE.com, 2/6). Deutsch Inc. Chair Donny Deutsch said "What I don't love about the ads ... is the buffoonery of young men, just men looking like idiots" ("Today," NBC, 2/7). 

GROUPON CEO DEFENDS AD: The N.Y. TIMES' Elliott writes the Groupon ad "went for shock-value humor" with Hutton "bemoaning the plight of 'the people of Tibet,' then veering off to praise a group discount at a Tibetan restaurant in Chicago." The spot made designer Kenneth Cole's "comment about Egypt on Twitter last week -- 'Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available' -- seem sensitive" (N.Y. TIMES, 2/7). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Emily Steel notes the ad "was slammed as offensive by some ad executives." Groupon CEO Andrew Mason said that he "did not consider the ad to be offensive, rather a 'spoof' on the company and typical celebrity-endorsed" PSAs. Mason added that Groupon "plans to raise funds for the plight of people in Tibet" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 2/7). MDC Partner Chair & CEO Miles Nadal, whose group helped create the Groupon spot, said, "Popularity and effectiveness of advertising are not necessarily one and the same. In fact, they're usually very different. In terms of response being relevant in pop culture terms, we thought it was terrific" (Bloomberg TV, 2/7).

RISKY STRATEGY: AD AGE's Wheaton gave the Hutton ad four stars and wrote Groupon's pre- and postgame spots "similarly turn the celebrity-cause-hectoring genre on its head for a laugh while managing to explain what Groupon does to the unwashed masses who've never heard of it." Wheaton: "Risky. But it doesn't come off as crass as Kenneth Cole tweeting about Egypt" (ADAGE.com, 2/6). But in Chicago, Phil Rosenthal writes Groupon "cheapened itself" with a spot that "trivialized the oppression of the people of Tibet and unleashed a riptide of criticism online" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 2/7).

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