February 03, 2011, 3:23 PM — WARNING: Some of the videos below may not be safe for workplace environments (or watching with your kids nearby)
Just like we’re seeing advertisers trot out Super Bowl ads before the big game, we’re also seeing an increase in the number of ‘Banned’ ads make their Web appearance.
In the past, only a few companies or groups would announce that they were “rejected” by the NFL or network broadcasting the game, but with the availability and wide audiences on YouTube and other video sites, viewers can watch these “banned” ads and the vendors can get their message across without having to pay for the estimated $3 million for 30 seconds price tag of a Super Bowl ad.
For example, already this year we've found five ads from companies or groups that have claimed that their ads were rejected for the Super Bowl - and the resulting publicity from those announcements have generated more than 843,000 views on YouTube alone - and that's just for the 'official' videos - not others embedding or copying the videos for their own channels or videos.
“Most of these ads were made to be banned and were never intended to see the $3 million light of day,” says Josh Rogers, executive creative director at advertising firm The Imagination Group Ltd. “But they may get more people seeing them than the alternative, which is probably not airing them anywhere.”
Rogers says in the future, “banned” advertisements will become more common, with the possibility that the ads get even racier as they try to stand out with a desensitized viewership. He adds that networks could take advantage of this trend by posting the “what-would-have-been-banned submissions online, through an age gate” or something similar. Networks could even try to get some revenue out of this from the additional traffic to such a site.
Of course, the folks at GoDaddy.com have turned the ‘banned’ ad into an art form. Since 2005, the company has been submitting ads that have sometimes been “rejected” or “too hot for TV.” The company then puts the rejected ads on their own Web sites, and the ones that get approved for the game then ask viewers to head to the Web site to watch the “banned” ones.
This year is no exception – in fact, the site has a section dedicated to their new ads. One of this year's ads features new spokesperson Jillian Michaels (from NBC's "The Biggest Loser") and Go Daddy spokeswoman and Indy-car driver Danica Patrick trying to get out of this year’s ad, only to find that it’s in their contract.
Here are some other ads that we've found were "rejected" or "banned", only to show up on YouTube drawing viewers.
Jesus Hates Obama According to this Huffington Post article, Fox rejected an ad from the Jesus Hates Obama Web site (a conservative comedy site). The ad features a Jesus bobble-head and President Obama bobble-head looking at each other, with the Obama bobble-head eventually falling into a fishbowl. The ad then touts the merchandise on its Web site.
In this CNN blog post, site founder Richard Belfry said that he had “financial backing from private investors to produce and air a commercial during the Super Bowl.”
Sounds a bit fishy to me, but the story has generated enough interest for the ad to receive more than 300,000 views on YouTube.
Ashley Madison Rejected Superbowl Spot The same tactics appear to be working for the AshleyMadison.com Web site. The site, which encourages married people to have affairs, claims that their 2011 Super Bowl ad was rejected by Fox. On the site’s YouTube channel, this video actively encourages viewers to “Watch the X-rated Version at AshleyMadison.TV”. The non-X-rated version on YouTube has more than 500,000 views already.
PETA – Nalia’s ‘Veggie Love’ Casting Session Rejected sexually themed ads seem to be piling up this year. PETA has posted on its official YouTube channel this ad, which may or may not be one that actually got rejected by Fox. This ad is a “behind the scenes” audition sequence for the group’s 2010 ad, which was rejected by NBC.
It made even me blush, so you'll have to go to YouTube to watch it.
Rejected John 3:16 Super Bowl Commercial It’s not just sex that gets broadcasters nervous. Religion advertising is getting some attention too. The Fixed Point Foundation says its 2011 ad wanted to have people go to its LookUp316 Web site, to raise awareness of the Bible verse, which is often seen in end zones – even Tim Tebow wrote the verse in eye black once. Fox rejected the ad on the basis that it contained “religious doctrine”, the group says on its YouTube site.
But in the end, traditional Super Bowl advertising would still win out, says Rogers from The Imagination Group. “A great idea that airs on the Super Bowl still trumps a racy banned spot, since a good spot can always exist virally online after the 100 million people watch it on TV.”