The Five Super Bowl Commercials That No One Bought

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Along with rants about the halftime show and tabulations of exactly how much one second of Super Bowl airtime costs, the day after the Super Bowl brings us the time-honored tradition of recapping the commercials that caused an outrage. Legal, philosophical, personal -- we have the five which brought the controversy, the sexism, and the lawsuits which people can't stop talking about.


The Racist One

What It Is: A political ad for a U.S. Senate Seat in Michigan, which is now held by Debbie Stabenow. The spot comes courtesy of her Republican challenger former Rep. Pete Hoekstra. 

Who Got Mad: James Fallows, Democrats, the Angry Asian Man blog

What They Said: "This ad is embarrassing for America!" wrote The Atlantic's James Fallows. "The 'Chinese' woman speaks in American-accented English, and I would bet she is actually an Asian-American. But the script has her make pidgin grammar errors, 'Me likee!!'-style."

The Creepy One

What It Is: A commercial with the usually adorable talking baby for E Trade. We've seen him talk about golf clubs and getting a bespoke suit. In this one he's talking to his dad about future investments and his new baby sister. That's until he's talking to his friend in the newborn nursery.

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Who Got Mad: Jezebel's Anna North.

What They Said: "I'm including it here simply because I hated it so goddamn much," wrote Anna North. "The only thing creepier than a talking baby is a baby who is 'dating.' Who is literally robbing the cradle. Barf all over everything."

The Car Commercial 

What It Is: An advertisement that pits American truck makers Ford and GM up against the end of the world. Since it's a General Motors commercial, Ford and the imaginary driver of the Ford truck lost. 

Who Got Mad: Ford

What They Said: Ford had actually threatened to sue GM for this ad. And GM still ran with it. "We stand by our claims in the commercial, that the Silverado is the most dependable, longest-lasting full-size pickup on the road. The ad is a fun way of putting this claim in the context of the apocalypse," said GM Global Chief Marketing Officer Joel Ewanick.

The Sexist Car Commercial

What It Is: A Fiat commercial for their 500 Abarth, which features a stunning woman who speaks a lot of Italian, seduces a (nerdy?) man by close-talking with all of that saucy Italian, and them promptly turns into a car.

Who Got Mad: The Twitterverse.

What They Said: "Women love it when you leer at them. It makes us crawl all over perfect strangers. Wait, no, it makes us feel unsafe," wrote one tweeter.  "Rewarded with affection and sexual suggestive behavior when you look at a woman's ass? A woman as a car, property you own?" another wrote. 


The Ripoff

What It Is: A Greek Yogurt commercial featuring John Stamos and a lady friend teasing one another with spoonfuls of Greek Yogurt. 

Who Got Mad: A band named the "John Butler Trio."

What They Said: Although there's that quasi-violent headbutt, the commercial isn't in hot water because of domestic violence or whatnot. It's because of the song that's playing. As Mediabistro points out, it's very similar to this tune from the John Butler Trio called "Zebra." The band responded on their Facebook page: "Thank you everyone for making us aware of the Oikos Greek yogurt TV ad that aired during the Super Bowl yesterday featuring a song that sounds extremely similar to Zebra. John Butler and his management were not aware of this usage until yesterday, and we will be seeking advice as how to address the issue." Mediabistro adds that the "inspirations" didn't stop there, pointing to a very similar 7UP ad from 2001


As Mother Jones and Jezebel point out, many other commercials upset plenty of people in their own special ways. Sadly, it's become tradition that the majority of offenders seem to have to do with sexism. On that note, both agree that Go Daddy deserves a perennial spot for consistently translating the seemingly boring topic of URL sales into the objectification of beautiful, scantily-clad woman.

Feel free to let us know which ads rubbed you the wrong way in the comments below.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.