Super Bowl rejected commercials: The best one is...
The only thing more fun than analyzing this year’s crop of Super Bowl ads? That would be picking apart the various commercials that were nixed by the NFL and/or network powers that be—both this year and during games played long ago.
Sure, the concept of “banned” Super Bowl ads is a murky one; critics complain that some companies create controversial spots specifically so they’ll be rejected by the big game, giving the ads more attention than they would’ve otherwise received. That said: The urge to gawk at stuff that’s been deemed naughty, provocative, or otherwise inappropriate is one of our most basic human impulses—which is why the legend of “banned” ads persist each year, regardless of how accurate that label may be.
With that in mind, we combed the archives of Super Bowl broadcast history to find 32 ads deemed unsuitable for Big Game airspace and then ranked the taboo spots accordingly. You go, Creepy Durex Guy!
32. “Bottle Opener,” Bud Light (2006)
The ad: A man at a bar takes the opportunity to grab his own beer after the bartender steps away. When the bartender returns, he’s forced to hide beneath the bar—with his butt facing out, next to the bottle opener. You can guess what happens next.
Why it was banned: The gross-out factor of this ad is just too much, especially when a group of people enter the bar asking for 20 Bud Lights. Poor guy. —Megan Daley
31. The Big and the Beautiful (2012)
The ad: Rich men lust after plus-sized women in this ad for America’s Next Top Model winner Whitney Thompson’s dating website.
Why it was banned: Thompson claimed discrimination against plus-sized women, but NBC responded that her company had never actually filed a formal “order to buy” and therefore could not be considered for Super Bowl airtime. —Christian Holub
30. “Lola,” GoDaddy (2010)
The ad: Lola, a.k.a. a former football player once named Larry Jones, decides his real dream is to enter the lingerie business. He uses GoDaddy.com to launch his new website.
Why it was banned: Go Daddy’s Chief Marketing Officer told DailyFinance that according to CBS, the ad had the “potential to offend viewers.” CBS reportedly declined to offer specific reasons for the nix, but a likely culprit is the gay stereotypes presented by the Lola character, including gestures and a pink tracksuit. —Taylor Weatherby
29. “John 3:16,” LookUp316.com (2011)
The ad: A group of friends are watching a football game together when a close-up on one of the players shows the words “John 3:16” on his eye black. One of the friends asks what that means, and the other says he’ll look it up.
Why it was banned: According to the Christian Post, FOX issued a statement saying the ad contained too much “religious doctrine.” —TW
28. Daniel Defense (2013)
The ad: A military vet walks through his house, hugging his wife and holding his baby, while talking about protecting them via voiceover. Fade to black; then the logo for Georgia-based arms manufacturer Daniel Defense appears.
Why it was banned: This rejection didn’t come from the networks but from the NFL itself; the organization’s rules prohibit gun ads. —CH
27. “Accidental Kiss,” Snickers (2007)
The ad: Two dudes who can’t resist the hunger-quenching candy bar eat one from opposite ends, a la Lady and the Tramp. Their mouths accidentally touch, giving each the need to do something “manly.”
Why it was banned: Many organizations complained about the ad’s homophobic overtones, including the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. “Mars needs to apologize for the deplorable actions of its Snickers brand,” said Alliance president Neil Giuliano. —Keisha Hatchett
26. Pornhub (2013)
The ad: An old couple sits on a park bench for a few seconds. Then the logo for Pornhub appears over them… and the ad ends.
Why it was banned: CBS does not allow advertising related to pornography, though it’s also unclear how serious Pornhub’s attempt to get an ad in the Super Bowl was in the first place. —CH
25. “Cut the Cheese,” Bud Light (2008)
The ad: Two deli workers discuss the trials and tribulations of cutting cheese at their place of work.
Why it was banned: Flatulence jokes might have been a little too sophomoric for senior executives. Or maybe they’re lactose intolerant? —KH
24. “Jesus Hates Obama,” JesusHatesObama.com (2011)
The ad: An Obama bobblehead gets a stare down from a Jesus bobblehead, eventually falling into a fishbowl after which Jesus happily flaunts a shirt reading “Jesus hates Obama.” (The site itself is mostly a retailer of novelty tees.)
Why it was banned: The site received an email from Fox’s vice president for broadcast standards and practices stating that the commercial was “not acceptable to air on FOX,” the New York Daily News reported. But with a name as blunt as that, how could anyone expect this site to be acceptable on any major network? —TW
23. “I Own You,” GoDaddy (2007)
The ad: A man taunts his coworker, Doug, by buying up a series of domain names, including Doug’s own name, his dog’s, and his wife’s. Then comes the punchline. Guy 1: “You know I’m gonna do your mother now.” Doug: “Too late! I already did my mother.”
Why it was banned: For some reason, CBS thought it best to stay away from a gentle implied incest joke. Who’da guessed? —Hillary Busis
22. “Foul Ball,” Rolling Rock (2007)
The ad: A baseball player hits a foul ball that ricochets throughout the park, and onto… a few sensitive areas.
Why it was banned: This ad must have hit a soft spot for the network. Get it? —KH
21. “Southwest Patty Melt,” Carl’s Jr. (2012)
The ad: Years before becoming a war goddess, model Kate Upton got sensual with a spicy patty melt in a drive-in theater to the tune of “Some Like It Hot.”
Why it was banned: It was a little too hot. —CH
20. “Pro-Life,” CatholicVote.org (2009)
The ad: We see a video sonogram with captions explaining that the featured fetus, which faced many obstacles, would grow up to become President Barack Obama.
Why it was banned: Abortion is always a hot-button topic and according to LifeSiteNews.com, it proved to be too much for NBC and the NFL. Apparently, they weren’t interested in ads involving ‘”political advocacy or issues.” —KH
19. “Blind Date,” Smart Beep (1999)
The ad: A woman lets one rip in the car before her blind date, only to realize it was a double blind date and the other couple was in the backseat…the whole time.
Why it was banned: Apparently, Fox execs thought the beeper service’s fart joke was too much. Uh, think those same execs watched the premiere episode of Family Guy, which aired right after Super Bowl XXXIII? —MD
18. Ashley Madison (2011)
The ad: A woman tells her office that she just discovered her husband’s affair. Her coworker replies by saying “welcome to the club”—and everyone starts making out. There’s also some random weirdness sprinkled throughout, like the unexplained guy wearing a bunny suit.
Why it was banned: Fox stated that the ad did not meet its credibility standards. Ashley Madison’s CEO complained that the network was discriminating against the ad’s use of porn star Savanna Samson. —CH
17. “Skinny Dipping,” Bud Light (2007)
The ad: A charming couple decides to spice up their night by going skinny dipping in a pool under the moonlight, only to realize that the pool isn’t quite private
Why it was banned: Maybe TV just wasn’t ready for the ad’s voyeurism. The internet, however, is another story—the clip went viral after being rejected by the Super Bowl. —KH
16. Airbone (2009)
The ad: As Mickey Rooney enjoys a session in the sauna, someone coughs. The octogenarian bolts for the door—dropping his towel in the process.
Why it was banned: Lou d’Ermilio, a spokesman for Fox Sports, said, “Our standards department reviewed the ad and it was deemed inappropriate for broadcast.” Rider McDowell, co-owner of Airborne, protested by arguing that the commercial wasn’t sexual, but “tantamount to showing a baby’s bottom.” Smooth. —KH
15. “Go to Hell,” Electronic Arts (2010)
The ad: In a spot for the video game Dante’s Inferno, one of the characters battles dragons and other enemies in a fiery hellish-looking setting. The tagline: “Go to Hell.”
Why it was banned: That concluding imperative, which EA eventually softened (the company replaced “Go to Hell” with “Hell Awaits”). The Examiner also notes that at one point, the ad shows a character holding a Christian cross—which also probably wouldn’t go over very well with any sort of religious Super Bowl viewer. —TW
14. “Bad Date,” AshleyMadison.com (2009)
The ad: A woman experiences a terrible blind date with a man who can’t stay off the phone or keep his eyes to himself. Oh yeah, and he’s married.
Why it was banned: According to CNBC, not only was the ad banned from the Super Bowl, but the site for illicit affairs was also banned from advertising on all NFL programming until the end of time. “After realizing what the site was, the sales rep called back and told the company there was a mistake and that his company could not sell an ad to the site,” said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy. —KH
13. “Good Dog,” Bud Light (2006)
The ad: Two men show off the tricks their dogs can do. While one dog can fetch a Bud Light for his owner, the second can take a bite out of the other owner’s, um, junk to get ahold of a cold one.
Why it was banned: The ad may have been a little too violent—and the crunch (ouch) of the man’s nether regions pushed it over the edge. —MD
12. “Catfight,” Miller Lite (2003)
The ad: Two women get into a Mean Girls-style cat fight over why they drink Miller Lite. Naturally, they end up in their underwear, throwing punches and high-kicks in a fountain.
Why it was banned: The ad ends with a pair of nearly-naked women—meaning it’s definitely not PG, and not even really PG-13. Perhaps understandably, the commercial has earned a following—it managed to take the top spot in Bleacher Report’s “25 Sexiest Super Bowl Ad of All Time” list. —MD
11. “Wardrobe Malfunction,” GoDaddy (2005)
The ad: A woman suffers from repeated wardrobe malfunctions while testifying during GoDaddy’s “broadcast censorship hearings.”
Why it was banned: The ad came a little too soon after the Janet Jackson incident, especially since it cost CBS $550,000 in indecency fines. —MD
10. “Bouncer,” United Church of Christ (2004)
The ad: A church’s “bouncer” turns away several would-be parishioners based on their race, disability status and sexual orientation. The final message: “Jesus didn’t turn people away. Neither do we.”
Why it was banned: According to CNN, CBS and NBC decided not to air the spot because it violated “policies against running ads that take positions on matters of public controversy,” while ABC didn’t accept paid advertising that “espouses a particular religious doctrine.” —MD
9. “ManCrunch Make Out,” ManCrunch.com (2010)
The ad: Two battling bros talk smack as they watch their rival teams play each other. Suddenly, a mutual reach for the potato chips results in an urge to start making out.
Why it was banned:Addressing homosexuality in Super Bowl ads typically results in backlash or controversy. Ultimately, it came down to a decision by CBS’s Standards and Practices department, according to the Huffington Post. —TW
8. “Veggie Love,” PETA (2009)
The ad: Women in lingerie express their love for vegetables. Explicitly.
Why it was banned: PETA’s raunchy ad is an example of how sex doesn’t always sell. NBC released a statement against it, saying the spot “depicts a level of sexuality exceeding our standards.” —KH
7. “In the Hole,” KGB (2010)
The ad: Employees of the directory assistance company respond to a call from two women whose husbands’ heads up have gone straight up their asses after a conversation.
Why it was banned: No statement was released regarding the rejection—but let’s just say the literal adaption of the phrase “he’s got his head up his ass,” is a bit alarming to see brought to life. —TW
6. SodaStream (2014)
The ad: Scarlett Johansson demonstrates how to use the SodaStream seltzer-maker, then sensually drinks for a few seconds before declaring, “Sorry, Coke and Pepsi.”
Why it was banned: Israeli company SodaStream has endured heavy criticism for having a factory in one of the West Bank settlements—but Fox’s problem with this ad centered on Johansson’s final line calling out Coke and Pepsi. (Pepsi sponsors the Super Bowl halftime show.) The ad still ran in the Super Bowl, but with that last line cut. —CH
5. “Clothing Drive,” Bud Light (2010)
The ad: An office holds a clothing drive that rewards each donation with a Bud Light. Gradually, employees find themselves in nothing but underwear (and sometimes, in nothing at all), resulting in some pretty hilarious and awkward run-ins.
Why it was banned: Seems that the ad went a little too far with the joke, as some of the employees stripped down enough to necessitate black censor bars. —TW
4. “Apology Bot 3000,” Bud Light (2007)
The ad: The Anheuser-Busch team came up with a new way to apologize in 2007: the Apology Bot 3000. At least two spots featuring the robot were rejected from the Super Bowl airwaves—one in which two cooks apologize for poisoning their customers’ meal, and another in which a man apologizes to his girlfriend for releasing their sex tape. But who cares, the conclude: at least there’s Bud Light!
Why it was banned: Sex, lies, the fear of imminent mortality: definitely not appropriate subject matter for all Super Bowl viewers. —MD
3. “Exposure,” Go Daddy (2008)
The ad: Glamorous women arrive on the red carpet, getting photographed by excited paparazzi as they brandish their beavers. Like, literal animals.
Why it was banned: In a statement, Fox spokeswoman Elizabeth Driscoll said that the network “did not approve of the word and references to ‘beaver,’ which GoDaddy CEO and Founder Bob Parsons did not want to remove.” —KH
title: ‘Take Our Survey!’,
body: ‘Please help us find out what you think by taking our survey at Polldaddy.com.’,
button: ‘Get Started »’,
2. “ProDraftLeague.com” (2015)
The ad: A marching band plays as a series of actors playing football players appear onscreen. According to parent company Daily Fantasy Sports, each one represents “the various scandals and suspensions that caused Fantasy Football players headaches throughout this year”—such as players suspended for domestic violence of substance abuse.
Why it was banned: The company says NBC told it that the commercial wouldn’t get approved by the NFL—which isn’t much of a shock, since the spot’s entire gimmick is pointing out the issues that have been plaguing the year this season. —HB
1. “Our Protection,” Durex (2012)
The ad: It begins with a bank robbery, then flashes back through different moments in the robber’s life—all incidents of harm caused by a single creepy guy, like a proto-“Too Many Cooks.” At the end, it reveals his moment of conception—which came when his parents decided not to use a condom.
Why it was banned: It’s pretty creepy; there’s implied rape, and a cat gets shoved in an oven. Still, that hasn’t dissuaded people from watching the commercial on YouTube, where it’s racked up nearly 2 million views. —CH
Super Bowl ads