Worst Super Bowl Commercial of All Time

On Sunday, February 5, 2017,  the world tuned into what has become one of the most watched events on TV. The Super Bowl is synonymous with football, food, TV, and most of all commercials. Each year corporations spend millions of dollars on Super Bowl ads.

In fact, the price for ONE thirty second commercial to air during the Super Bowl was $5 million dollars! This comes out to an unbelievable $166,667 per second.

You can believe that companies spending money on a Super Bowl ad expect it to pay dividends. The majority of companies that advertise in the Super Bowl are billion dollar, Fortune 500 companies, that can afford the cost and risk of such an expenditure.

Super Bowl 51

However, once in a while, we see a startup company gamble the fate of their company and even mortgage their future by running a Super Bowl ad. Sometimes these underdogs of business experience great success, but usually they go down in flames.

Cards Against Humanity is a company that falls into the latter category. CAH started as an anti-establishment game that focuses on the politically incorrect, lewd, crude, and subjective humor. That said, it is a very fun game in my opinion. The creation of this game was genius in and of itself.

But, when it comes to doing Super Bowl ads, or marketing of any kind it seems, the creators of Cards Against Humanity does not have a clue on how to craft their message.

The video below is their $5 million Super Bowl commercial:

The first thing that runs through my mind is "What the hell are they thinking?" I could get drunk and create a better commercial than that. This was a total waste of money, time, and creative resources (if they have any left.)

The creators of CAH posted on blog on Medium, where they claim that the commercial put them into Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. Big shock there. Now that claim that the blog and bankruptcy claim are a hoax designed to get more attention.

I do not see this as a clever marketing ploy, but as a stupid move by the creators without having any checks and balances over them. They initially claim to have hired the firm Wieden+Kennedy to create their commercial, but they were unhappy with it so they fired that agency.

I highly doubt that CAH hired Wieden+Kennedy. This information is in the same blog on Medium where they claimed the bankruptcy and then recanted it.

They even posted a list of reasons for the failure titled "What Went Wrong?"

I'm not even going to address their answers under that list, but give unbiased answers on what really went wrong.

  1. The product is never mentioned.
  2. The benefits (in this case lots of laughter) are not mentioned either.
  3. No details on where to buy this product.
  4. No logos identifying the company running the ad.
  5. No music or narration in the background.
  6. Just a potato and nothing else.
cah ad

The majority of us do not have $5 million to waste on a foolish experiment like CAH has done. Call me an establishment guy, but when I see ads that are working, I try to figure out why and then emulate them.

What is there to learn from this debacle?

  • Your marketing message must be concise.
  • Your name and branding must be visible.
  • Your website and relevant contact info must also be visible
  • Your marketing should be aesthetically pleasing - both visually and audibly.
  • You must have a message so tight that the consumer knows you are the obvious choice.
  • Never put all of your eggs in 1 basket. They could have run a structured Pay-Per-Click campaign on either Google or Facebook and gotten better results.
  • Also, CAH admits to creating too many product lines. It's always best to keep the options at a minimum to avoid confusing the consumer.

In closing, I do enjoy playing the game Cards Against Humanity. It's best with a group of 6 to 8 people. I do hope they make it as a product and a business. I also hope they learned something from this and use it for the betterment of their company.

In marketing- Measure What Matters- if it isn't providing you with a return on investment, or producing results, it's time for a change.

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