Super Bowl 2013's Commercial Controversies: Unsexy Sex Ads and Fake Jamaicans

super bowl commercials VW racist adEvery year, America is treated to a dose of Super Bowl commercial controversy. Sometimes the advertising altercations are about the ads that air -- GoDaddy's stripteases, for instance, or Groupon's sarcastic take on social issues in 2011. Other times, they're about the ones that get rejected by the network for going too far.

Super Bowl 2013 is bringing us a little bit of both. Volkswagen, which stole the show a couple years ago with the Star Wars kid, found itself embroiled in controversy when it released this year's ad on Monday. The commercial, which depicts a white Midwestern man affecting a thick Jamaican accent after driving the latest Volkswagen Beetle, has attracted accusations of racism. One critic called it "blackface with voices."

But not everyone agrees that the spot is racist. CNN's Soledad O'Brien and "Today" show host Matt Lauer both defended the spot on their respective programs, and 74% of respondents to a Huffington Post reader poll said they found nothing wrong with the commercial. And no less an authority than Jamaica's minister of tourism and entertainment gave the ad his blessing, evidently delighted to see his country touted as a happy-go-lucky paradise.

Volkswagen insists the ad will run as planned, and unless the tide of public opinion turns decisively against it, we expect to see it on Sunday.

One thing we won't see on Sunday, though, is this ad for porn site PornHub. Don't worry, you can click that link -- it's perfectly safe for work. In fact, the site cleverly made the most innocent Super Bowl ad possible, depicting an elderly couple tenderly embracing on a park bench before the company's logo appears. But CBS apparently has a policy against airing commercials for porn sites, which means you won't see it air during the game.

And we'd bet good money that that's exactly what the company expected to happen. In both 2010 and 2011, -- a dating site for people who want to have extramarital affairs -- had its ad rejected by NBC and Fox, respective, for the big game. And in 2011, Fox rejected a Super Bowl ad from conservative comedy site

In both cases, the company in question got a big publicity bump from the ensuing controversy, without ever having to pony up millions for an ad slot. And we're guessing that's just what PornHub had in mind.

Finally, we should acknowledge one advertiser that's steering clear of controversy this year. Domain name registry GoDaddy, which has become infamous for unfunny ads depicting scantily-clad women, is finally ditching the sex in favor of a 30-second spot that's genuinely funny and makes a good case for using its product. Imagine that: A Super Bowl ad that's effective, and doesn't stir up a fuss.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article also included a Taco Bell ad that declared that "people kind of hate you" for bringing vegetables to a game day party and indicated that the ad was pulled due to complaints from the Center for Science in the Public Interest. While the ad was indeed pulled from rotation due to complaints, a Taco Bell spokesperson clarifies that the ad wasn't scheduled to run during the Super Bowl, instead running in regular rotation and during college football's Bowl Championship Series.

Matt Brownell is the consumer and retail reporter for DailyFinance. You can reach him at, and follow him on Twitter at @Brownellorama.

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They are multi-generation white, indian, and chinese people born in Jamaica. Last i recall Sean Paul ain't black.

February 04 2013 at 7:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

ya know,being these finanCE boards ARE THE ONLY REMAINING AREAS OF FREE SPEECH,unlike huffingHO,
i simply wanna slap up another good one courtesy of aol/huffpoop

As she described the events of that day, her voice trembled as she told listeners that automatic weapons had no place in communities — and that more guns couldn't have stopped what happened.

from their lead-in story as teachers speak OUT AGAINST guns-

now if that self sacrificing principal,a true heroine and martyr HAD a gun she could have wasted him instead of trying to either block him or slow him down.

BUT OUR CHILDREN and adult students MUST ATTEND these schOOls etc.

will they rethink the federal LAW here ?

thank u.

January 31 2013 at 2:37 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I think that it's sorta racist to think that only Black people speak English with a Jamaican accent. I worked in Jamaica off and on for 20 years and every Jamaican born White person spoke with a Jamaican accent. Approx. 10% of Jamaica is White. Side note: I worked in South Korea with two White Jamaican engineers who spoke with the accent and it made me feel good because it is a happy dialect.

January 31 2013 at 9:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

volks add great promo for tourism to jamaica. no wonder the jamaicans are pleased. rather than get upset about this add a real cause to be upset about is the name for the washington team - the redskins. this goes along with the ugly depiction of the native american on the cleveland indian hats. i was to an american indian rally once at an indians game and an african american was taunting one of the native americans. the latter asked him how he would like it if the name of the team were changed to the sambos and a cartoon picture of an african american were put on the hat.

January 31 2013 at 1:58 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply