Well, they can't all be adorable little Darth Vaders peddling Passats.
While some Super Bowl commercials are destined to become classics for all the right reasons, just as many go viral because they've managed to offend massive swaths of the population (or, a few people who tweet really fast).
So far, the dishonors in 2011 are going to PepsiCo, Homeaway.com and Groupon, though there's probably some Star Wars fanatic out there who thinks George Lucas sold out big-time...
Pepsi, for one, has apparently offended some with "Love Hurts." The clip features a couple sharing a moment over a Pepsi Max, but who get interrupted when a cute jogger makes eyes at the husband. The wife aims to throw her Pepsi can at her hubby's head but beans the jogger instead. The couple then runs off, leaving the injured jogger writhing on the ground.
Because the couple is African-American and the jogger a blond Caucasian, the scenario perpetuates the myth of the "angry black woman," according to author J.C. Davies, who writes about interracial and intercultural dating.
PepsiCo, meanwhile, touted the successful debuts of their six consumer-created Pepsi and Doritos ads, including "Love Hurts."
"We congratulate all of our talented fans and especially our finalists who got the opportunity to see their work on the biggest advertising stage in the world," Angelique Krembs, VP of Pepsi Marketing, said in a statement on the company site.
Homeaway.com struck a few nerves with its "test baby," a running gag in several of their ads in which a baby doll is sent hurtling through the air or, in Sunday's case, smashed into a window, while the head of the "Ministry of Detourism" assures a stunned onlooker, "It's only a test baby."
The gag is that the Ministry is testing out various modes of uncomfortable accomodations to help out its Homeaway.com customers. Um, OK.
In response to complaints about the admittedly disturbing baby-smashing joke, Homeaway CEO Brian Sharples said today that the Super Bowl ad wouldn't run again and that all ads featuring the doll being "smushed, smashed, or dropped" would be pulled from their website.
Finally, Groupon drew a flag on its first-ever Super Bowl ad, featuring Timothy Hutton talking about the ongoing troubles in Tibet, only to really be talking about Groupon's latest deal--a coupon for fish curry.
"We're each getting $30 worth of Tibetan food for just $15," Hutton said as he's served at what's supposed to be a Himalayan restaurant in Chicago.
"It could be argued that the advert has helped raise the profile of what is happening in Tibet, after all awareness is the first step to accountability," the UK-based Free Tibet said in a statement on its website. "But it does put Tibetans and their suffering at the heart of the joke and when it's used for commercial purposes that is exploitative."
Similarly themed pregame and postgame Groupon ads featured Cuba Gooding Jr. and Elizabeth Hurley, with Gooding mentioning the plight of the whales before giving us the good news about a cheap whale-watching cruise, and Hurley lamenting deforestation before getting all excited about a discounted Brazilian wax.
All three ads were directed by mockumentary master Christopher Guest.
Groupon hasn't issued any response to the concers, but is currently guiding its Twitter followers to donation sites for Greenpeace, the Tibet Fund and the Rain Forest Action Network.