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Controversial Ads in NFL's Big Game

By Ivy Pope

When it comes time for the NFL super bowl, the commercials are a draw for some people. Or the puppy bowl. Not everybody's there to see the actual game, sadly.

Over the years the ads have started having higher budgets, starry casts and controversy. But hey, America's a big fan of controversy, so let's bring it. More fodder for sociology classes to discuss the social meanings of the ads.

The ads numbers have only gone up--each year more ads are aired during the super bowl.

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'Pepsi' with Kendell Jenner

Gettyimages | Kevin Mazur/MG19

In 2017, Pepsi aired an ad during the super bowl that showed Kendall Jenner defusing what appeared to be a protest and police officers who were tasked with breaking the protest up.

How did she difuse the situation? Why, with a can of Pepsi! However social media was not kind to this ad and it was pulled, and even became an SNL spoof.

It's... shining a light on a terrible situation, a terrible light at that, when it's implied that a situation can be diffused for a can of soda. Like, I'm sorry? Maybe they should have picked a less serious situation, like a family picnic gone bad or something.

Nationwide Boy and the Dark Meaning

Gettyimages | ilbusca

Hey, in 2015 Nationwide, an insurance provider, put out an ad during the super bowl about a young boy, who dies in a bathtub that has overflowed. He's telling the audience of all the things he will never get to do.

The ad promoted Nationwide's "Make Safe Happen" program, which was aiming to teach caregivers to make their homes safer for children, and avoid death or injury.

This ad was received so poorly that the CMO stepped down from their position. Personally, I think the ad was received so badly because people refuse to think about bad things happening to children... Thing is, bad things happen everyday.

The ad was doing it's job, and I think it was a good ad. Bit morbid, but hey. Morbidity draws attention.

Homophobic Candybar

Wikimedia |

So Snickers, yes, the candybar people love (or hate, I don't know you or your preferences), are now known for Betty White, the Queen of Baking, taking a hit on the football field.

But in 2007? Snickers screwed up bigtime, at least to a lot of viewers. The ad featured two mechanics working under the hood of a car, with a Snickers bar hanging out of one's mouth. There was some "Lady and the Tramp" style eating, before they accidentally smooched.

Immediately after, one says: "Quick, do something manly." And moments later both men are tearing fistfuls of hair from their chest, screaming.

I'm sorry but... there's no shame in being gay, or anything else, and Snickers was woefully behind the times. Since then, hopefully, the company's come to their senses and realized that being homosexual isn't something to be "ashamed" of or to make fun of.

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