Are These the 10 Most Sexist Super Bowl Ads Ever?
Not even the most hardcore Vegas gambler knows whether the Seattle Seahawks or the New England Patriots will claim victory on Super Bowl Sunday. But there’s one thing we can all confidently go double or nothing on: Some of the commercials aired during the game will be chock-full of sexist innuendo—and we’re not just talking about the ads from Carl’s Jr.
That said, perhaps this year marketing executives won’t go as far as these clunkers that previously aired during the big game. How bad can it get? Let’s take a trip down Super Bowl memory lane to see some brands’ mysoginistic approach to recruiting new customers.
1. Miller Light’s “Catfight”
This 2003 spot starts out innocently enough, with two women having a couple of friendly beers over lunch. But their argument over whether the brew tastes great or is less filling quickly takes a detour into stereotypical, sexually charged girl-on-girl grappling. The two land in a fountain, which, of course, means that the camera captures plenty of shots of wet breasts and rear ends. The clip sparked plenty of controversy upon its release a decade ago.
2. Bud Light’s “Yoga”
The last thing any woman wants to experience during yoga class is being ogled by two guys while she’s in downward dog pose. But in this 2003 spot by Bud Light, women who are into building their strength and flexibility aren’t being celebrated; instead, they’re being objectified by beer-drinking dudes who find the difficult contortions sexually arousing.
3. Teleflora’s “Sassy Flowers”
The Super Bowl always airs a couple of weeks before Valentine’s Day, when plenty of ladies expect a bouquet from their partner. Sweet, right? Well, back in 2009 Teleflora had to go sour the whole flower-giving experience by producing an ad in which the delivered blooms are so “sassy” they insult a woman’s appearance.
4. Bridgestone’s “Mr. Potato Head”
Women—they’re such annoying nags, even when they’re potatoes. And gosh, wouldn’t life be so much easier if they couldn’t talk at all? Sure, this ad from tire maker Bridgestone, which aired during 2009’s Super Bowl, features the much-beloved Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head, but the subtle message it sends is one we hope today’s kids don’t embrace.
5. Dodge and “Man’s Last Stand”
Hey ladies, if a guy deigns to communicate with you, does basic household chores, and treats your friends and family with common courtesy, he deserves a car. The ad is all the creepier thanks to its narration by Michael C. Hall, who’s known for playing a serial killer on Dexter.
6. Teleflora’s “Give and You Shall Receive”
This 2012 advertisement from Teleflora proves that the flower retailer didn’t really learn much from critics three years before. For this commercial, the company recruited model Adriana Lima to star as a woman getting all gussied up in front of the camera, all while a vase of blooms sits on a table in her bedroom. Lima purrs into the camera, “Give, and you shall receive.” The not-so-subtle message: If you give a woman flowers, she’ll give you sex in return.
7. Go Daddy’s “Perfect Match”
No list of sexist Super Bowl ads would be complete without a clip from Web hosting service Go Daddy. This commercial, starring supermodel Bar Refaeli kissing (and kissing...and kissing) a Go Daddy tech worker played by actor Jesse Heiman, aired in 2013. All a nerd needs to make his technology work is to swap spit with an adoring, gorgeous woman.
8. Mercedes-Benz’s “Car Wash”
If a woman needs her car washed, all she has to do is let a bunch of guys gape at her while she provocatively stands around. That’s the lesson model Kate Upton teaches us all in this 2013 spot from Mercedes-Benz.
9. Axe’s “Nothing Beats an Astronaut”
Every time I see this 2013 ad, I feel like the creators must have been listening to Kanye West’s “Gold Digger.” Guys, inside every woman is a damsel in distress, waiting to be rescued. But watch out: Even if you save her, her ungrateful behind is gonna trade up to a guy with more money and power.
10. Volkswagen’s “Engineers Earn Their Wings”
So many ads that air during the Super Bowl are obvious with their mysogyny, but then there are ones like this 2014 clip from Volkswagen that err on the subtle side. Sure, it’s cute, but at a time when it’s critical to get more girls into science and technology, why are all most of the people working in the Volkswagen factory guys? More specifically, why do only male engineers earn wings for creating cars that can last to 100,000 miles?