Super Bust: 5 Super Bowl Commercials That Lost Big Time
Over the course of 50 years, there have been some great Super Bowl games and some monumental stinkers. And the same can be said for Super Bowl commercials. Every year, brands spend a major part of their marketing budgets to put their ads in front of the game’s 100 million-plus viewers (up to $5 million for a 30-second spot this year), and a misfire can cause irreparable damage…not to mention immediate online ridicule.
Here are five examples of brands that spent big and failed big on Super Bowl Sunday:
Dirt Devil – “Fred Astaire”
In 1997, Dirt Devil showed the world their CGI prowess by giving Fred Astaire a new dance partner… a vacuum cleaner. Derided as disrespectful and creepy, the spot led to the passage of the “Astaire Bill,” which gives heirs more control over how dead celebrities can be used.
Nationwide – “The Dead Kid Ad”
Nationwide’s spot in last year’s Super Bowl featured a boy that either drowned in the tub or had a TV fall on him or something. The online backlash was swift and hilarious. Yes, the amount of attention the spot received was impressive, but all of it was bad.
Apple – “Lemmings”
Hot off their groundbreaking 1984 commercial for Macintosh (considered by many to be the best commercial ever made), Apple launched Macintosh Office with a depressing and morbid ad so universally hated that Apple didn’t advertise during the Super Bowl again until 1999.
SalesGenie.com – “Pandas”
Super Bowl 42 took place in 2008, but you would think the SalesGenie spot featured in that game was written a century earlier, featuring offensive Chinese accents that went on to outrage millions. Its weak production value and complete absence of humor didn’t help.
Burger King – “Herb The Nerd”
Launched during the Super Bowl XX in 1986, this campaign urged viewers to find Herb the Nerd at a neighborhood Burger King. Despite a healthy cash reward, America responded with a yawn, the campaign failed epically and Burger King lost tens of millions of dollars.