Film & TV

Two Super Bowl Commercials That Missed the Mark

Capitalizing on goodwill and coopting a famous speech to sell products feels wrong.
Reading time 3 minutes

Ah, the Super Bowl. There's nothing quite like it. It's athleticism meets entertainment meets capitalism — in other words, American, American, American. But if you didn't tune in for the game or halftime show, then chances are you were only interested in catching the commercials, but hey, there's no shame in that game. The commercials are usually the best part. 

Each year, the televised spectacular attracts more than 100 million viewers, and with so many people tuning in, it's no surprise that NBC reportedly charges $5 million for each 30-second slot. Thus, in an effort to get the biggest bang for their buck, companies have started producing commercials that not only showcase their products but ones that also entertain and deliver a bigger message. Sadly, two companies ran into trouble with that third part (delivering a bigger message) for Super Bowl LII.

Dodge Ram

How do you manage to show the world how out of touch you are? Try using a recording of a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speech to sell your trucks. Though A for effort on showcasing the many faces and places of America. However, pairing the speech with imagery of soldiers marching might not have rubbed the civil rights leader the right way — Kendall Jenner for Pepsi vibes, anyone? If there's anything we can learn from Ram, it's that there's a big difference between "being woke" and actually meaning it. For future reference: don't trivialize someone's struggle to sell stuff, and maybe read the entire speech to make sure it's not about anti-capitalism or anything. 



2017 was a year in which one environmental disaster seemed to follow another, skyrocketing "tragedy" to the top of every headline and trending topic. Many companies —Budweiser included —did wondrous things as far as disaster relief efforts are concerned (the beer company donated over 2 million cans of water last year) so why did their Super Bowl commercial need to remind us of that? Instead of "doing good quietly" we got a minute-long, self-congratulatory ad that likely cost more to air than was even donated. Imagine if that $5 million had been used for charity instead? Perhaps Budweiser is trying to appeal to its fleeing customers

For both Ram and Budweiser, might we suggest some advice from Thomas H. Palmer: "If at first, you don't succeed, Try, try, try again." No, really. Try again! 

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