15 Super Bowl Ads That Tanked (#10 Still Makes Us Cringe)

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Discover the commercials that bombed harder than a deflated football.
Updated Feb. 21, 2024
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Super Bowl Sunday: touchdowns, dazzling halftime shows... and commercials that bomb harder than a dropped pass.

While some ads become instant classics, others land with the subtlety of a fumble in the end zone.

Prepare to cringe (and maybe save some cash) as we revisit the most epic Super Bowl commercial flops of all time.

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Sony Ericsson

Trygve/Adobe ericsson logo and flags

You may think the little green Android robot is cute, but what would happen if it had human thumbs surgically attached to it?

That was the question posed by Sony Ericsson in a 2011 ad for a smartphone with gaming controls. The effect was a little creepy, and the Xperia Play phone was a bust.

Mountain Dew

gubernat/Adobe mountain dew

Mountain Dew used the Super Bowl in 2016 to promote its Mountain Dew Kickstart drink that included caffeine.

The drink’s ad pushed the idea of combining different things into one great thing with the introduction of PuppyMonkeyBaby, a creature with baby feet, a monkey body, and a puppy head.

The ad made people talk, but PuppyMonkeyBaby may not have earned Mountain Dew the kind of interest it wanted.

Miller Lite

The Toidi/Adobe miller lite aluminum beer

Miller Lite has had plenty of Super Bowl ads over the years, but perhaps using a beer-drinking man-beaver was a step too far.

The 1998 ad featured a man in a beaver suit attacking old-timey loggers for stealing his wood before grabbing a Miller Lite from their beer cooler.

The ad wasn’t received as well as other ads for the beer manufacturer.

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LifeMinders

gpointstudio/Adobe three men watching football

LifeMinders released an ad in 2000 that proclaimed to be “the worst ad on the Super Bowl,” featuring a poorly played piano and black typewriter text on a yellow background advertising its email commerce services.

The ad drew some attention to the company, but not enough to make an impact. The company struggled for a year before being sold to another marketing firm, and the website it advertised on the Super Bowl went dark.

Go Daddy

sdx15/Adobe godaddy logo on phone

Go Daddy has had intriguing and sometimes racy ads over the years, but its 2013 Super Bowl ad mixing smart and sexy may have been a little too much.

The ad, which featured model Bar Refaeli making out with a geek, may have made things a little awkward while watching the big game with family.

Mr. Peanut

Stockphotoman/Adobe planters peanut's honey roasted

The beloved Mr. Peanut was killed off by Planters just before the Super Bowl in 2020, with fans up in arms about the end of the mascot.

But it turned out just to be a Super Bowl commercial with a less-than-stellar response once the twist was revealed and Mr. Peanut returned.

Apple

HTGanzo/Adobe three-dimensional apple logo

Tech giant Apple made a legendary commercial in 1984 in support of breaking from the norm and buying a Macintosh.

But a year later, the company followed up with a commercial showing a line of people blindly walking off a cliff to promote going against the grain and buying an Apple computer.

Audiences, however, found the 1985 ad a little dystopian and odd.

Rocket Mortgage

Lori/Adobe rocket mortgage app

The 2020 Super Bowl ad from Rocket Mortgage featured actor Jason Momoa coming home to relax and be himself.

But the ad may have taken the idea a little too far with Momoa “stripping” his muscles away to reveal that he’s just a skinny guy. The effect may have been a little too good, with some Super Bowl fans finding it a bit creepy.

Beck’s Sapphire

monticellllo/Adobe bottle of beck's beer

Viewers weren’t really sure what to make of a fish singing “No Diggity” to a bottle of beer.

The Beck’s Sapphire ad, which aired in 2013, gave viewers quite a bit to ponder, such as why a fish was serenading a beer instead of why they should actually buy it.

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Groupon

Nicole Lienemann/Adobe groupon app on the screen of an iPhone X

Groupon’s Super Bowl ad in 2011 seemed to miss the mark with some viewers.

The ad started out looking like a public service announcement to draw attention to Tibet, only to be revealed that actor Timothy Hutton, the star of the ad, was in a Tibetan restaurant eating dinner that he got a deal on with a Groupon.

The ad drew criticism online, with some viewers calling it tasteless and tacky.

M&M'S

Longfin Media/Adobe m&m's chocolate candies

M&M'S decided to announce the retirement of its spokescandies in 2023, which generated internet buzz about why the company was pushing aside the successful ad campaign.

It turned out to just be a teaser for a Super Bowl ad featuring actress Maya Rudolph before letting fans know the colorful spokescandies weren’t leaving, and it was just a Super Bowl ploy.

RadioShack

wolterke/Adobe RadioShack retail store exterior

RadioShack was considered an outdated store in 2014, and the company reflected on that with a Super Bowl ad featuring 1980s pop culture figures cleaning out an outdated RadioShack.

The ad may have been tongue-in-cheek to announce the company’s updated look, but it also reminded viewers that RadioShack was an outdated company.

A year after the ad, RadioShack filed for bankruptcy.

Nationwide

JHVEPhoto/Adobe nationwide logo at their headquarters

The Super Bowl is a fun event where fans get together to watch the game and enjoy a good party.

That’s why the Nationwide ad in 2015 ended up being a downer talking about a kid dying as a way to sell insurance right in the middle of the game. The dark tone turned viewers off instead of having them tune in.

Dirt Devil

arsenypopel/Adobe fan of american football

Technology in the 1990s allowed Dirt Devil to show off its line of vacuum cleaners by resurrecting the dance steps of Fred Astaire.

Some viewers found the ad innovative for its time, but others found it disrespectful to the actor’s legacy.

E-Trade

Sundry Photography/Adobe e-trade financial corporation

You may remember E-Trade’s unique ads with babies trading stocks and talking about investment deals to build wealth.

The ads may have been memorable, but the money spent didn’t pay off. E-Trade’s share price fell during their years of Super Bowl ads while the ad spend went up. In 2020, E-Trade was acquired by Morgan Stanley.

Bottom line

Prostock-studio/Adobe men watching football

The bright lights of Super Bowl advertising can be tempting, but don't let them blind you to your efforts to get ahead financially

These ads are carefully crafted to trigger impulse purchases, so tread carefully. Just because it's funny or heartwarming doesn't mean you need it.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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