Even if you have the $4 million or so to place a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl, that doesn't mean the ad will air. It first must be submitted to the network for approval. CBS, which is broadcasting the game this year, has banned just a few commercials to date; the fate of the others will lie in public opinion.
However, some commercials make a killing from getting banned — drawing more viewers on YouTube than their approved counterparts.
Here are four complaints that can get advertisers booed by fans or even bumped from the game.
In the porn business? Forget the Super Bowl. PornHub, an online provider of adult entertainment, learned that when submitting an anything-but-racy ad — featuring an elderly couple sitting on a bench. But then perhaps it was just a public relations ploy to drive visitors to its site, as BuzzFeed suggested. (Last year, AshleyMadison.com, a dating site for married people looking to stray, pulled a similar stunt.) PornHub has posted its ad on YouTube and is running a poll on a safe-for-work site. To date, 79 percent of voters have said, "Air it."
SodaStream got its rejection from CBS last Friday, making its commercial the first serious ad to be denied a 2013 Super Bowl slot. The home soda-making equipment company apparently crossed the line by including actors in uniforms of Coke and Pepsi — two major Super Bowl advertisers. However, the company had a backup plan. "SodaStream is still in the game with an older spot we tweaked," the ad's creator, Alex Bogusky, tweeted.
Already Volkswagen is battling accusations of racism for its 2013 "Get Happy" ad that it posted to YouTube earlier this week — one of the few Super Bowl ads posted in its entirety instead of as a teaser. What's all the fuss about? A white man speaks in a Jamaican accent to dramatize his happiness after buying a new Volkswagen Beetle. The Jamaican government officially has endorsed the ad and has added a clip of Jimmy Cliff singing, "C'mon get happy," to its website.
Taco Bell earlier this week withdrew a game day-themed ad (though not specifically for the Super Bowl) because people claimed that it was offensive to vegetarians. In the ad, a narrator says, "Veggies on game day is like punting on fourth and one — it’s a cop-out.” The Center for Science in the Public Interest launched a protest campaign on Twitter.
"It's bad enough that there aren't many ads on television for broccoli, kale or carrots," Margo G. Wootan, the center's nutrition policy director, said in a statement. "The last thing healthy fruits and vegetables needed was to be the subject of attack ads."
Taco Bell will run its Super Bowl commercial in the second quarter of the game. The ad features a group of senior citizens who escape from a retirement home.