9 Painfully Awkward Celebrity Super Bowl Ads.
Posted on January 30, 2015 at 8:40am EDT.
“Well, I can just watch the commercials.” For decades, that’s been the Super Bowl Sunday motto of many who care more about pop culture than they do football.
And why not? These $4 million ad spots are spectacles by design – short subject mini-films designed to dazzle you with celebrities, flash and, often, very odd subject matter.
Here, then, are nine Super Bowl commercials that feature celebs doing some very odd, awkward or otherwise unusual things. They just might make you proclaim, “Wow, what a weird idea for a commercial!” – and then wonder how much these stars got paid.
1. Michael J. Fox’s Double Dilemma.
Aired: Super Bowl XXI (1987)
Why it’s awkward: Even if you can accept this bizarre apartment building full of Pepsi-craving sexpots, the arrival of a second sexy neighbor leads you just short of imagining Alex P. Keaton in a cola-fueled ménage a trois. What would Steven and Elyse say?
2. Joe Namath Gets Creamed.
Aired: Super Bowl VII (1973)
Why it’s awkward: It’s hard not to snicker at “Let Noxzema cream your face.” Add in a nude-seeming Farrah Fawcett getting up close and personal with Joe Namath, and you get a more risqué scene than you’d expect from family viewing time in 1973.
3. The Poetry of Charles Barkley.
Aired: Super Bowl XLIV (2010)
Why it’s awkward: Just imagine the pitch. “So Charles, we’ll have you recite this Dr. Seuss-esque poem about Taco Bell while you walk across a surreal dreamscape until you meet that other famed NBA orator, Lamar Odom, in front of a 1940s-style paparazzi mob. Sound cool?”
4. Dan Quayle vs. Potatoes: Round 2.
Aired: Super Bowl XXVIII (1994)
Why it’s awkward: It’s a non-joke. Two years after the former Vice President famously misspelled “potato,” he stars in a Lay’s potato chip commercial … that doesn’t mention the incident. He’s just there, potato-adjacent and getting tricked out of his seats by a young Elijah Wood. Set-up, but no punch line. Huh.
5. Bob Dole Gets the Joke.
Aired: Super Bowl XXXV (2001)
Why it’s awkward: The only thing worse than Bob Dole talking about Bob Dole’s erectile dysfunction on national TV is Bob Dole reminding me of Bob Dole’s erectile dysfunction when I drink my favorite beverage. And yes, that’s Modern Family ‘s Eric Stonestreet playing the doctor.
6. Will Ferrell’s Little-Seen Bus Adventure.
Aired: Super Bowl XLVII (2013)
Why it’s awkward: It’s just Will Ferrell mustachioed and making out passionately with a woman on a public bus for a full minute. Even weirder, it only aired in three of the smallest U.S. markets, but hey, as Deadspin points out, it got us to talk about it now, right?
7. Fred Astaire’s Deal with the Devil.
Aired: Super Bowl XXXI (1997)
Why it’s awkward: Astaire’s widow granted the use of the late star’s image in a commercial, but that didn’t mean anyone else was okay with it. Of course, Marilyn Monroe was just named the new face of Max Factor, so clearly some people don’t find this sort of arrangement awkward.
8. K-Fed: No Longer a VIP.
Aired: Super Bowl XLII (2009)
Why it’s awkward: The joke is that Kevin Federline has lost his celebrity status and is now delusional. That’s kind of funny, but this Nationwide spot made you feel bad for him. And that’s the most awkward thing of all.
9. Naya’s Chocolatey Kiss of Death.
Aired: Super Bowl XLVII (2013)
Why it’s awkward: Even if you can get past the weirdness of Naya Rivera having a romance with sentient chocolate, it’s pretty twisted that she also wants to both date him and devour him, right? He can feel pain. He says so.
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