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Super Bowl: 32 greatest rejected commercials

The only thing more fun than analyzing this year’s crop of Super Bowl ads? That would be picking apart the various commercials that were nixed by the NFL and/or network powers that be—both this year and during games played long ago.

Sure, the concept of “banned” Super Bowl ads is a murky one; critics complain that some companies create controversial spots specifically so they’ll be rejected by the big game, giving the ads more attention than they would’ve otherwise received. That said: The urge to gawk at stuff that’s been deemed naughty, provocative, or otherwise inappropriate is one of our most basic human impulses—which is why the legend of “banned” ads persist each year, regardless of how accurate that label may be.

With that in mind, we combed the archives of Super Bowl broadcast history to find 32 ads deemed unsuitable for Big Game airspace and then ranked the taboo spots accordingly. You go, Creepy Durex Guy!

32. “Bottle Opener,” Bud Light (2006)
The ad: A man at a bar takes the opportunity to grab his own beer after the bartender steps away. When the bartender returns, he’s forced to hide beneath the bar—with his butt facing out, next to the bottle opener. You can guess what happens next.
Why it was banned: The gross-out factor of this ad is just too much, especially when a group of people enter the bar asking for 20 Bud Lights. Poor guy. —Megan Daley

31. The Big and the Beautiful (2012)
The ad: Rich men lust after plus-sized women in this ad for America’s Next Top Model winner Whitney Thompson’s dating website.
Why it was banned: Thompson claimed discrimination against plus-sized women, but NBC responded that her company had never actually filed a formal “order to buy” and therefore could not be considered for Super Bowl airtime. —Christian Holub

30. “Lola,” GoDaddy (2010)
The ad: Lola, a.k.a. a former football player once named Larry Jones, decides his real dream is to enter the lingerie business. He uses GoDaddy.com to launch his new website.
Why it was banned: Go Daddy’s Chief Marketing Officer told DailyFinance that according to CBS, the ad had the “potential to offend viewers.” CBS reportedly declined to offer specific reasons for the nix, but a likely culprit is the gay stereotypes presented by the Lola character, including gestures and a pink tracksuit. —Taylor Weatherby

29. “John 3:16,” LookUp316.com (2011)
The ad: A group of friends are watching a football game together when a close-up on one of the players shows the words “John 3:16” on his eye black. One of the friends asks what that means, and the other says he’ll look it up.
Why it was banned: According to the Christian Post, FOX issued a statement saying the ad contained too much “religious doctrine.” —TW

28. Daniel Defense (2013)
The ad: A military vet walks through his house, hugging his wife and holding his baby, while talking about protecting them via voiceover. Fade to black; then the logo for Georgia-based arms manufacturer Daniel Defense appears.
Why it was banned: This rejection didn’t come from the networks but from the NFL itself; the organization’s rules prohibit gun ads. —CH

 

27. “Accidental Kiss,” Snickers (2007)
The ad: Two dudes who can’t resist the hunger-quenching candy bar eat one from opposite ends, a la Lady and the Tramp. Their mouths accidentally touch, giving each the need to do something “manly.”
Why it was banned: Many organizations complained about the ad’s homophobic overtones, including the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. “Mars needs to apologize for the deplorable actions of its Snickers brand,” said Alliance president Neil Giuliano. —Keisha Hatchett

26. Pornhub (2013)
The ad: An old couple sits on a park bench for a few seconds. Then the logo for Pornhub appears over them… and the ad ends.
Why it was banned: CBS does not allow advertising related to pornography, though it’s also unclear how serious Pornhub’s attempt to get an ad in the Super Bowl was in the first place. —CH

25. “Cut the Cheese,” Bud Light (2008)
The ad: Two deli workers discuss the trials and tribulations of cutting cheese at their place of work.
Why it was banned: Flatulence jokes might have been a little too sophomoric for senior executives. Or maybe they’re lactose intolerant? —KH

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