Taste comes first

A-B decides not to run 'Wardrobe Malfunction' spoof during Super Bowl

Jan 26, 2005 - Anheuser-Busch appears to be paying special attention to taste in this year's Super Bowl commercials - and we're not just talking beer.


The double entendres, bathroom humor and crude sight gags that dominated commericals last year won't be around this Super Sunday. It's part of a trend.

This year, Super Bowl advertisers are struggling to strike a delicate balance between funny and uncontroversial. Many are taking their creative cues from the NFL and Fox, which have gone to great lengths to scour this year's festivities. Hip-hop music is gone from the halftime roster in favor of boomer favorite Sir Paul McCartney. Fox has even tweaked the name of a special network broadcast of its cable hit "The Best Damn Sports Show Period" to "The Best Darn Super Bowl Road Show Period."

And after consulting with the National Football League and News Corp.'s Fox, the network broadcasting this year's big event, A-B decided not to broadcast "Wardrobe Malfunction," a commercial that spoofs last year's halftime show debacle by fabricating a story of how Janet Jackson's breast ended up exposed during her dance number.

The spot, which is set backstage before last year's halftime show, shows a stagehand trying to open a Bud Light by using Jackson's outfit to get a better grip on the slippery bottle. He accidentally rips the garment and makes a fumbling attempt to fix it with some tape. Later, the young man is watching the show when the crowd screams and a stunned game announcer chimes in: "Wow, that's something you don't see every day."

"Why take the risk? All you need is one person to be offended," said Bob Lachky, Anheuser-Busch vice president of brand management and director, global brand creative. "Some people don't want to be reminded of the incident."

Nevertheless, the ad has drawn plenty of attention. While the estimated 90 million consumers expected to tune in to Super Bowl XXXIX Feb. 6 won't see the halftime spoof, the company already has posted the spot on and previewing it for the media. The ad is likely to make its way to millions of consumers. The site ballyhoos: "See the ad you won't see on the big game."

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