6 Terrible Super Bowl Ads You Won't Believe Actually Ran
Today is the Super Bowl, which means that a third of the country will gather around the tee-vee and watch the Walla Walla Flapdoodles take on the Bozeman Meat Piles in what is shaping up to be one of the last Super Bowls in existence. It's also that magic day on which advertisers will pony up roughly $5 million for each 30 seconds' worth of air time, so companies have an incentive to make you remember their commercials by any means necessary.
The following are ads people remember, but not necessarily for the intended reasons ...
Noxzema Creams All Over Joe Namath
Legendary Jets quarterback Joe Namath didn't make the playoffs in 1972, leading his injury-plagued team to a .500 record. But Broadway Joe wasn't going to let a little thing like "wins" keep him out of the Super Bowl. He still had his endorsements, including one with Noxzema, who was peddling a new anti-irritation shaving cream in a now-famous Super Bowl commercial.
It opens with a probably hammered Namath, who utters the line "I'm so excited, I'm gonna get creamed!" with all the pomp and circumstance of the first stoner to discover puns. Enter the eye candy, played by a then-unknown Farrah Fawcett:
An Angel gets its paycheck.
Farrah lathers up Joe's face while singing the commercial's jingle. Joe, clearly smitten with the woman applying shaving cream to his face, can only stand there and smile like an overweight golden retriever getting his belly rubbed.
He even had the fur to go along with it.
Joe then picks up a razor and goes to work, even though his face appears to already be clean-shaven. Finally, comes one of the most retroactively cringe-inducing slogans ever:
"Warning: Flush thoroughly if you get some in your eye."
We would like to chalk this up to it being a more innocent time, but the look in Namath's eyes is anything but. Joe utters his closing line, "You've got a great pair of ... hands" and Farrah, we shit you not, swoons:
The '70s were a classier time, you see.
One has to wonder how many takes were needed before Joe named the right body part.
An Ad Randomly Promises That Christopher Reeve Will Walk Again
It can be kind of cool when movies and commercials take old footage and show us what might have been, like in Forrest Gump or those DirecTV commercials. Nuveen Investments decided to do the opposite of that. We start with an orchestral soundtrack playing over people all around a city watching a speech given by an unspecified white guy whom we'll call Norm:
All hail Norm.
We can't hear what he's saying, but it's apparently important enough that a physical therapist stops what she's doing to listen in:
Then we see someone rise from a chair and walk over to Norm. It's a butler!
It's a best man!
It's ... no. It can't be.
When this commercial ended, he beat the shit out of Norm in a junkyard, just for old time's sake.
It's Christopher Reeve, arguably the most famous quadriplegic in the world, walking. While one obviously wants to give hope to those who have been paralyzed, using a well-known person creates a certain set of problems -- most notable of which is that you have to make that shit true in the very near future. This is especially difficult when your business is an investment firm, which, despite claims to the contrary, has nothing to do with medical research.
And it's not even like Nuveen specialized in the bio-med industry; their main area of focus was municipal bonds. Christopher Reeve tragically died a few years later, while Nuveen would go on to screw its investors.
All Subway Ads With Jared Are Far Creepier In Retrospect
We'll get the disturbing background out of the way first. Jared Fogle had a job with arguably the best difficulty-to-income ratio ever. There were really only two rules for him to keep raking in that sweet Subway scratch:
1. Don't get fat again.
2. Don't molest children.
Most people would find #1 to be the more difficult requirement, but Jared decided that life would be better as the butt of approximately 18,000,000 unoriginal "six-incher" and "Eat Fresh" jokes on Twitter.
With Jared's sins laid bare, we must now turn an uneasy, twitching eye upon Subway. Let's start with this 2003 spot, which features Jared finding a Subway store in his living room, staffed by a teenager talking about "tangy sauces." A young woman wakes the sleeping monster and dares to open Pandora's Box by inquiring as to the nature of his dream, only to receive his cryptic reply of, "Same dream."
That kid would've been better off manning the store at Jigsaw's house.
In 2013, Subway released an ad featuring numerous athletes and, bizarrely, Kevin from The Office, congratulating him on keeping his weight off for 15 years. Kevin presents Jared with a 15th-anniversary sub, which he probably traded off-camera for a VIP ticket to a Gary Glitter concert.
His "15th year in prison" party probably won't be nearly as festive.
A similar ad ran in 2015, only a few months before he was arrested. This one features a happy cartoon Jared at the playground, affirming his commitment to passing on "better eating habits to young people everywhere." (Did you hear a whooshing noise? That was your soul exiting your body and teleporting to a garbage universe made up of nothing but Subway's putrid black olives.)
"This is my story. Ready to write yours? With a much less terrible ending, though?"
A Desperate Ed McMahon Poses Next To A Golden Toilet, Dies
Few people have had their television careers spiral as anticlimactically downward as Ed McMahon. His first major gig was as Johnny Carson's version of Andy Richter, and the next time anyone saw him, he was delivering giant representations of checks for a Publishers Clearing House knockoff. And then, the 2009 Super Bowl became his time to shine.
McMahon was to endorse one of the now-ubiquitous cash-for-gold scams called, conveniently, Cash4Gold. In 2009, America was still reeling from the housing bubble fiasco, and Cash4Gold was primed to capitalize on this Tartarus of economic misery by encouraging people to sell their jewelry and other valuables for cents on the dollar. Here's McMahon, who had been suffering numerous financial problems at the time, hocking a gold giraffe:
And now you know why he had money problems.
He is soon joined by MC Hammer, leading many viewers to believe that they were not watching the Super Bowl, but in fact some lost episode of Chappelle's Show. Hammer, who is renowned for his own financial difficulties, is selling a gold medallion ...
And now you know why he had money problems.
A gold hammer that he can inexplicably lift with ease ...
And yet Asgard still won't return his calls.
And ... egad! His golden pants!
"I had a blatant misunderstanding of what a 'Golden Parachute' is."
Clearly, times are tough. Not only is Hammer selling off his pants, but someone has also already exchanged a gold toilet, and now McMahon has to sit next to it in what must be an office the Cash4Gold folks broke into.
If you look inside, you can see both of their careers.
McMahon died mere months later, and it turned out that his alternative to shuffling off this mortal coil would have been to have Donald Trump save him from foreclosure. Good call, Ed?
The Dot Com Super Bowl
The dot com boom was a magical time in America's economic history. It was an era when, with nothing more than a domain name and an office ping-pong table, you could generate millions of dollars in investments to do things like create a USB device that emits smells when you open your email. The height of the bubble was in 2000, when a shit-ton of now-obscure dot coms had Super Bowl ads. Like this one from Lifeminders.com, who would send you emails about ... stuff:
Here's a lifeminder: Don't call yourself the worst and expect roaring success for it.
Then there was Epidemic.com, which wanted to make you money by putting ads in your emails, not realizing that email filters were already a thing (they went bankrupt soon after):
Maybe next time, don't name your service after the rapid spreading of an infectious disease.
Netpliances took the idiotic hardware route and sought to sell you computers that were only good for web browsing, which are basically nothing but less-useful computers:
They closed up shop before perfecting their followup product: a calculator that only did subtraction.
There was also e1040 (a site where you could file your taxes online, prior to the knowledge of identity theft going mainstream), OnMoney.com (who poured $30 million into advertising before they had any customers), and let us not forget Pets.com, a company that operated with the bold strategy of selling merchandise for 25 percent less than what they paid for it:
"Pets can't drive, and neither can we, because we can't afford the gas."
By the next Super Bowl, all of these companies would be out of business, including Pets.com, who set a record for shortest-lived publicly traded company on a major exchange (268 days). The 2001 Super Bowl only had three dot com advertisers, and eTrade couldn't resist taking a shot:
"Eh, I've still had more Super Bowl appearances than the Browns or Lions."
Pepsi Sells Soda Using The Power Of Bob Dole's Dick
Back in 2001, a massive sugar water conglomerate based an entire ad campaign on the aging phallus of the man who failed to win the most powerful elected office on the planet. It all began with this ad that ran during Super Bowl XXXV, which spoofed 1996 Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole's gig as a Viagra pitchman. Pepsi -- rather than boner pills -- is Dole's "faithful little blue friend" that makes life worth living.
AD GUY: "They'll imagine an old man fucking, then they'll get really thirsty."
The ad was hailed as clever at the time, but little did America know that a dark denouement would come several months later during the Academy Awards. This new ad starts with 19-year-old Britney Spears posing as a Pepsi delivery guy (which was truly the target demographic here), but she immediately tears off her clothes and breaks into song:
This was immediately copied by Christina Aguilera for a Coke ad, and Jessica Simpson for RC Cola.
But there's a twist! Britney's actually in a Pepsi ad inside this ad. This leads hardworking folks around the world to stop what they're doing and gawk at Britney, including a line cook who nearly burns down a restaurant at the sight of carbonation and barely legal boobs.
"It's OK, nurses; dance away. That cancer patient was going to die anyway, as we all will some day."
The song continues, intercut with scenes of people watching this beverage delivery gone horribly awry, finally coming to Dole, who is sitting in the dark with his golden retriever, watching a woman nearly 60 years his junior gyrate on TV:
Not even the Sarah McLachlan dogs were this uncomfortable during a commercial shoot.
Which is immediately followed by this subtle symbolism ...
"LET PEPSI CREAM YOUR FACE"
... then a cut back to Dole, who tells his now-barking dog, "Easy, boy." This is because the excited dog is a metaphor for Bob Dole's increasingly tumescent penis, and Dole is debating masturbating in the shadows, fantasizing about a teenager whose life will soon be ruined by the vicissitudes of fame. It is also funny because, in an alternate universe, Bob Dole is unloosing his seed in the Lincoln Bedroom. Drink Pepsi.
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