This Ad Was Too Controversial For The Super Bowl

Super Bowl commercials tend to be provocative by design. Aired during what is one of the most watched events on television each year, the brief ads strive for controversy because, hey, controversy begets attention. Ahead of the big game this Sunday, February 5, a few ads have already received their five minutes of fame. One, an Audi commercial, is getting heat for being sexist. (Another, for T-Mobile, is getting heat purely from Justin Bieber's dance moves.) One ad, though, was so divisive that Fox, home to this year's broadcast, made a few edits.

As USA Today reports, the network made revisions to a commercial for 84 Lumber because the content was deemed too controversial. As of now, the edited version of the ad is available online. Titled "The Journey Begins," the 90-second spot follows the path of a mother and daughter from Mexico as they traverse across their country. They plod over fields, stroll along train tracks, and, at one point, wade knee-deep through a raging river. The two are presumably Mexican emigrants. At the end of the 90 seconds, a banner reads, "See the conclusion at Journey84.com." If you head to the hyperlink now, you'll be disappointed — the unaired completion of the journey won't be available until Sunday's halftime show. The site notes in a parenthetical about the unaired footage: "Contains Content Deemed Too Controversial For TV."

Michael Brunner, the CEO of the ad agency that produced the spot, admitted to USA Today that the agency was aware the piece is divisive. In an email, Brunner said, "Sometimes you need to take a stance if you want to make an impact with your target audience. But in the process, you may also create detractors."

Even detractors, though, can help an ad stand out. Brunner said as much: "If everyone else is playing it safe, those that take a risk have an opportunity to stand out even more. We believe if a client is sharing a genuine message they’re passionate about, the risk is usually worth the reward."

It looks like the gamble will pay off, as well. Already, the YouTube video has upwards of 100,000 views. Comments range from celebratory to outraged — it seems no one has a neutral take on the ad. Watch the edited advertisement, below, and, if you like, see the completed ad this Sunday.

A representative for Fox did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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