Controversial Super Bowl Ads

Photo courtesy of Openverse

Story by Reporter Annah Stang

The Super Bowl is an event known for intense rivalry, family time, greasy food, and of course, ads. While the event has been a tradition since 1967, it wasn’t until the 80s that groundbreaking advertisements became a staple. This year, Apple Music took over the halftime show, the same company that began the competition for the best Super Bowl ad in 1980. They introduced the Macintosh personal computer and began a long running battle to hold the title of best ad of the year. Fast forward to 1993 when Michael Jackson played the Super Bowl halftime show and set the tone for future performances. Now, in 2023, we have a Rihanna performance, a Chiefs win, and commercials to review. Major social media channels are tasked with rating the media every year. What is a trivial event for the majority of Americans is also one of the busiest times for businesses that can afford these ads. With thirty seconds on tv costing up to a whopping 7 million, it’s not advisable to waste your time in the limelight. This price is only going up. Football fans are tuning in to watch the game, but there are just as many people looking forward to these creative commercials and performances. However this year many reviewed that both the ads and halftime show were less than groundbreaking. There were a few that stuck out in the media, and not for the reasons they hoped.

Tubi had a Super Bowl interruption that was so realistic, many assumed someone had switched the channel on their tv. There are few people who have not had to experience a channel change at the worst possible time. This emotional effect certainly made for a memorable advertisement. Unfortunately Tubi is now under scrutiny for an unforeseen consequence of their commercial. One example went viral on Reddit’s r/offmychest community where a woman discussed breaking up with her boyfriend because of Tubi’s ad. She shared that her boyfriend began “violently” screaming at her and punched a hole in the wall, completely ignoring her attempts to explain it was a commercial. She felt so unsafe after the incident that she left in the morning. Other stories also surfaced on Tik Tok, where actual footage of some extreme reactions were posted. While we can’t rely on the volatility of social media, it is important to have these conversations about the root causes of this violent behavior. Is Tubi to blame? Most viewers decided no, claiming that a simple tv commercial is not an excuse for someone to fly off the handle. I don’t think there was any way for them to know the severity of reactions their ad would cause. However, there are current statistics showing that domestic violence is increased during major sports events, something for major businesses to keep in mind when they create their advertisements. 

“He Gets Us” Screen capture. Photo from godtv.com

You may have seen a second commercial that sparked outrage, “He Gets Us.” An intriguing sentiment supported by multiple donors including David Green, the founder of Hobby Lobby. This chain of billboards, banner ads online, and now a Super Bowl commercial are pointing to a central theme that Jesus Christ was judged as a member of marginalized communities. While the themes are inherently positive, these are funded by organizations connected to anti-LGBTQ groups, one of the demographics they are trying to attract. Only time will tell if these donors feel the 20 million dollars spent made a positive impact.