6 Controversial Super Bowl ads and How to Avoid Being One - Public Alliance blog

6 Controversial Super Bowl Ads and How to Avoid Being One

Super Bowl commercials are the most anticipated and highly watched advertisements of the year. With millions tuning in, it’s no surprise that brands are eager to make a lasting impression and stand out from the crowd. However, not all Super Bowl commercials are well-received. Over the years, there have been several controversial ads that have sparked public outrage and backlash. So, what makes a Super Bowl ad controversial and how can advertisers avoid being one?

  1. GoDaddy (2015) : This commercial featured a puppy being sold online, with the punchline being that the puppy was so cute it had to be rescued. The commercial was criticized for being insensitive and promoting animal cruelty.
  1. Groupon (2011): The commercial featured actor Timothy Hutton discussing the plight of the Tibetan people and offering discounts from Groupon. The commercial was seen as trivializing a serious political issue and was widely criticized.
  1. Coca-Cola (2014) “America the Beautiful”: The commercial featured the song “America the Beautiful” being sung in different languages. Some viewers felt that the commercial was unpatriotic and took offense to the use of languages other than English.
  1. 84 Lumber (2017) “The Journey Begins”: This ad featured a mother and daughter traveling through Mexico to reach the United States, a topic that was highly charged in the midst of debates about immigration and border security.
  1. Snickers (2007): This commercial featured two mechanics who accidentally kiss while eating a Snickers bar. The commercial was criticized for being homophobic and perpetuating negative stereotypes about the LGBTQ community.
  1. Nationwide (2015): This commercial featured a child talking about all the things he will never be able to do because he died in an accident. The commercial was criticized for being too dark and depressing for a Super Bowl audience.

Controversial ads are those that push the boundaries of social norms and values, or those that contain messages or themes that are deemed insensitive, offensive, or inappropriate. To avoid being a controversial Super Bowl ad, advertisers should take a cautious approach and consider the following tips:

  1. Know your audience: It’s important to understand who your target audience is and what they may find offensive. Know your audience’s values and beliefs to ensure that your ad aligns with theirs.
  2. Be sensitive: Be mindful of cultural, political, and social issues, and avoid making light of them. Be respectful of different communities and cultures, and steer clear of humor that could be considered insensitive or offensive.
  3. Avoid controversial topics: If you’re not sure whether a certain topic or message may be controversial, it’s best to avoid it altogether. Stick to safe, neutral themes and messages that are not likely to stir up controversy.
  4. Get feedback: Before airing your ad, seek feedback from a diverse group of people to ensure that it’s well-received. If you receive negative feedback, consider making changes or reconsidering your approach.
  5. Hire a professional: Consider hiring a professional agency or consultant to help you craft your Super Bowl ad. They have the experience and expertise to help you create an ad that is both memorable and controversy-free.

Super Bowl commercials are a powerful way to reach a large audience and make a lasting impression. However, with great power comes great responsibility.

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