Are Controversial Super Bowl Commercials Intentionally Aired?

By Lindsay Wigo

Editorial Editor

There is a general understanding that the commercials during the Super Bowl are very memorable and are usually viewed more than the average day-to-day commercial. From Doritos to Mountain Dew to cars, there was definitely a variety of commercials to keep viewers’ eyes peeled. Although many of the commercials were funny, I am going to be recapping some of the controversial commercials that have been raising conversations on social media.

Before I delve into some of the more arguable commercials, it is safe to say that I never thought I would see any football player execute the infamous Dirty Dancing lift so beautifully. In case you missed this legendary commercial, the NFL commercial that started off very typically. Eli Manning and Odell Beckham, Jr. are practicing on the field and about 10 seconds into the commercial, the hit song “Time of My Life” from Dirty Dancing starts playing. The two players break out into dance, only to be shortly accompanied by other dancing athletes. I think this was one of the most memorable commercials solely based on humor because it was completely out of the ordinary. I am not surprised that this is still circulating Twitter a few weeks later, considering I still laugh hysterically whenever I see it.

Stepping away from the humor aspect of the commercials, one commercial that has stirred up some controversy is the Hyundai commercial titled “Hope Detector.” For those of you who need a refresher, this commercial started with dozens of people going through metal detectors to enter what was supposed to be The Super Bowl. The commercial had multiple families placing items in a tray and walking through metal detectors. As predicted, only particular people sounded off the alarm, and these people were ones who had Hyundai car keys. These people were then escorted to a room where videos were played from pediatric cancer survivors or family members of survivors. The people explained that every time someone purchases a Hyundai, a portion of the proceeds are donated toward childhood cancer research. At the very end of the video, the survivors came into the room and thanked the Hyundai owners.

I know that you are wondering how a commercial that touching could be controversial. Many people are arguing that donating money for a charitable cause should not be a marketing tool and that the supposed Hyundai owners were paid actors. However, I took a completely different approach after watching it once. I really liked how a commercial about cars was capable of bringing up conversation about a very terrible illness. After watching and researching a little more, I do understand why people are getting upset if they feel that the commercial is exploiting pediatric cancer and using the large sum donation as a way to sell cars. My first impression was that the concept of the commercial was creative and warming, especially when the cancer survivors met the car owners at the end of the video.

Finally, social media was flooded with debate over the Ram Trucks Super Bowl Commercial. You might have seen this advertisement for a Ram truck accompanied by many videos of firefighters, veterans, and American heroes of all kinds. Throughout the video, a Martin Luther King Jr. speech plays as the narration because the first time the speech was spoken was 50 years prior to the Super Bowl to the exact day.

This video has been getting divided reviews. Some say American heroes, let alone Martin Luther King Jr., should not be used to improve car sales because it is wildly inappropriate. Others argue that the company was not inappropriate for creating the advertisement and using the speech was not out of line. It is possible that Ram created this advertisement simply to stir up conversation. They could have known they were going to be talked about either way.

Although many Super Bowl commercials did not stir up even the slightest of a discussion, there are always some that seem to make their rounds on social media for weeks after the game. Do you think these companies plan for their advertisement to backfire just to gain publicity and word-of-mouth attention? It is hard to justify whether or not that is true. Have you noticed that every year there are always a couple of commercials that seem to get an overwhelming amount of attention? Go back over the past few years a delve into research for yourself. I guarantee you will be surprised with what you find.


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