Super Bowl Ad Controversies: 5 Commercials That Missed the Mark

Super Bowl Ad
Look back at five Super Bowl commercials from the past 10 years (including this Snickers ad) that missed the mark, incited controversy, and got people talking for all the wrong reasons 

Where's Don Draper when you need him? Aside from the outcome of the actual game, the biggest buzz around the Super Bowl is over the ads that air between plays. Millions of people tune in to see the commercials every year — and they're not shy about calling out the flops. 

This year's game is still a few days away, but already one company has been forced to pull its planned ad amid backlash from viewers. GoDaddy announced on Tuesday, Jan. 27, that it would not air its "Journey Home" spot on Sunday, Feb. 1, after more than 42,000 people signed a petition protesting the commercial for making light of puppy mills.

"Thank you @animalrescuers for the candid feedback," GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving tweeted. "What should have been a fun and funny ad clearly missed the mark and we will not air it."

GoDaddy has had trouble in the past with its Super Bowl commercials — remember 2013's infamous makeout between Bar Refaeli and Walter the Nerd? — but it's hardly the only company to stir up controversy during the big game. Here's a look at five other ads from the last 10 years that got people talking for all the wrong reasons: 

Sales Genie: Pandas (Super Bowl XLII, 2008)

Sales Genie's animated ad featured talking pandas (complete with exaggerated Asian accents) trying to save their bamboo furniture shack from going out of business. After viewers cried foul, slamming the spot as offensive and racist, it was taken off the air by company chairman Vinod Gupta, who wrote the commercial himself.

Snickers: Manly Mechanic Kiss (Super Bowl XLI, 2007)

Masterfoods USA made the decision to pull its 2007 Super Bowl ad after organizations including the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD complained that it was homophobic. The commercial showed two mechanics accidentally touching lips while sharing a Snickers bar, and then freaking out and ripping out some chest hair to prove their manhood.

Groupon: Save the Money – Tibet (Super Bowl XLV, 2011)

Groupon came under fire for this Super Bowl ad starring Timothy Hutton, which turned the plight of the people of Tibet into a punchline about getting cheap food. Though the company initially defended the commercial, CEO Andrew Mason later pulled it from air, saying, "We thought we were poking fun at ourselves, but clearly the execution was off and the joke didn't come through."

Skechers: Dog Racing (Super Bowl XLVI, 2012)

Like GoDaddy, Skechers incited outrage from animal rights activists with a dog-themed ad in 2012. Grey2K USA, a greyhound protection group, collected more than 130,000 signatures on a petition against the commercial, which featured greyhounds racing against a smaller dog wearing the company's sneakers. 

GM: Sad Robot (Super Bowl XLI, 2007)

General Motors was forced to re-edit its commercial about a suicidal robot after the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention said it had received complaints about the spot. The commercial featured a machine getting kicked out of the GM plant, struggling to find other work, and then jumping off a bridge. It turned out to be a bad dream, but the backlash was very real.

"The ad, in its carelessness, portrays suicide as a viable option when someone fails or loses their job," the Foundation said in a statement. 

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