Two advertisers have gained a ton of attention and media coverage ahead of this year’s Super Bowl, not for the commercials they plan to air during the big game, but because their ads won’t be on TV this Sunday. While GNC and 84 Lumber have had their spots rejected for very different reasons, both brands have gained a huge boost in media coverage around the controversy.
While most “banned” ads have been rejected for being too racy, sexist, or homophobic, this year is a bit different. GNC’s commercial was abruptly rejected by the league this week after the NFL Players Association complained about the double standard in allowing GNC to advertise during the game while it remains on the list of brands not approved for endorsement by players because of its previous association with NFL banned substances. Meanwhile, 84 Lumber’s commercial was rejected by the Fox network due to political sensitivity because of its depiction of Mexicans and a big wall. I guess that means Corona and Tecate won’t be bringing their wall-vertising to Fox on Sunday, either.
While GNC’s rejection has all the hallmarks of a legitimate dispute, since it’s the only marketer in recent memory that’s actually taking legal action over its ban. 84 Lumber’s spot smells a bit more like a slick play to score some serious Super Bowl PR, which over the years has become a card-carrying member of storied Super Bowl season traditions. GoDaddy practically built its brand around making “banned” (and idiotic) Super Bowl ads. The rise of YouTube has given brands a massive opportunity to cash in on the Super Bowl hype, without actually paying Super Bowl prices. Hell, Droga5 created an award-winning campaign for Newcastle Brown Ale making fun of the entire Super Bowl circus.
So in honor of GNC and 84 Lumber, take a walk down Banned Super Bowl Commercial Memory Lane with us, to revisit some big game brand rejects of the past.
SmartBeep “Blind Date” (1999)
Miller Lite “Cat Fight” (2003)
Bud Light “Bottle Opener” (2006)
GoDaddy “I Own You” (2007)
Bud Light “Skinny Dipping” (2007)
Rolling Rock “Foul Ball” (2007)
Snickers “Accidental Kiss” (2007)
Bud Light “Cut The Cheese” (2008)
GoDaddy “Lola” (2010)
Carl’s Jr. “Southwest Patty Melt” (2012)