Super Bowl LV: Most Controversial Ads Ever Aired

2 min read

Every year for the Super Bowl, companies will pay a significant amount of money to air a commercial during the big game. Millions of people are tuned in and many of them are there just for the commercials. Many ads are very successful, but not all of them are received the way they were intended. Throughout the years there have been some questionable ads aired during the Super Bowl. Some companies have received a great deal of heat for advertisements they put out. In some way they were seen as racist, disgusting, or otherwise inappropriate. Here are some of the most controversial Super Bowl commercials in history:

GM Robot

First up we have the GM Robot. This commercial follows a robot working at GM as it gets laid off. The robot wanders around town searching for new work, flipping signs for a condo place or working at a fast food restaurant. The robot keeps seeing cars drive around, reminding it of its old job working at GM. The robot, in a depressed state, goes to a bridge and jumps off only to realize it was dreaming. This ad stirred the pot quite a bit. Even though it was only a robot, it implied that unemployment leads to suicide and set a very grim mood overall. Ultimately, this commercial made GM look pretty bad.

Groupon Tibet

This advertisement begins by talking about Tibet, a beautiful region full of culture. A voice describes how the very culture and way of life of the Tibetan people is in danger. Instead of turning this into a positive message to help the Tibetan people in need, it does quite the opposite. The scene changes to an American man being served by a Tibetan waiter as he talks about how they make a really good curry, which you can save on by using It is not at all what people expected to happen when the commercial came on. What made this so bad is that Groupon highlighted the struggles of the Tibetan people only to make a mockery of it to promote their platform and save money, which we obviously don’t need as much as they do.

Pete Hoekstra Spend It Not

How can you talk about controversy without bringing up politics? In 2012, Pete Hoeksta was running for U.S. Senate and put out this ad during the Super Bowl. Including as many racist Asian stereotypes as possible, this is possibly one of the most cringe worthy ads ever aired during the program. The ad shows an Asian woman riding her bike in a rice field as she stops to thank Michigan Senator Debbie “SpendItNow.” The woman says that thanks to Debbie, so much American money is being spent that more is borrowed from her people. She says, “your economy get very weak; ours get very good.” In his attempt to say that he will not spend as much money as his opponent, Pete Hoekstra shot himself in the foot with this advertisement. Not surprisingly, he lost the election by a large margin. Puppy

GoDaddy has been known for their controversial ads, having released many of them throughout the years. Some of them are disgusting, some of them are promiscuous, but they always seem to push someone’s buttons with their content. The advertisement we went with today is their Puppy ad. The commercial begins with a Puppy falling out of a truck. This puppy does not give up, instead it wanders throughout the wilderness for days to make its way back to its owner. When it finally arrives back where it belongs, the owner says “I’m so glad you’re home! …because I just sold you on this website I made with GoDaddy.” This ad received a significant amount of backlash from animal lovers all around the world for being “cruel.”

Just For Feet Kenyan Runner

There have been some very offensive commercials throughout the years, but this one from Just For Feet in 1999 might just top them all. This commercial features a barefooted Kenyan runner being “hunted” by four white men in a truck. They put what looks like some sort of drug in a drink that they hand to the runner, causing him to pass out. When he wakes up, he finds shoes on his feet and cries out in despair. He then unsuccessfully attempts to kick off his shoes as he walks away. This ad caused an outcry due to its blatantly racist content. Just For Feet did not last very long as it went bankrupt only a year later in 2000.

I hope you enjoyed reading about our top picks for the most controversial Super Bowl ads ever. Make sure to keep an eye out for any questionable ads during this year’s broadcast. Tell us what you think and let us know which commercials stood out to you over the years in the comments below.

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