How the Internet made Super Bowl ads weird

Super Bowl ads are getting weird. Doritos “Finger Cleaner.” Audi’s “Doberhuaha,” a Chihuahua with the oversized head of Doberman. Because nothing covers up the odious like Axe, a funny body spray ad that echoes Vietnam War atrocities.

Blame the internet. The pressure to make a big game commercial that goes viral is pushing advertisers into the realm of the uncomfortable.

With ads this year running $134,000 a second, it’s no longer enough for a commercial to make a splash during the game and maybe filter its way to water cooler chitchat. It’s got to rack up millions of hits online before it even airs, and get replayed for months and years to come.

“If there is, in fact, a recent weirdening (sic) trend in Super Bowl advertising, the Internet is probably somewhat to blame,” said Matt Ian, TBWA\Chiat\Day New York’s Executive Creative Director. “Just having a compelling film doesn’t necessarily mean your spot will perform well online. It has to have ‘Internet-ness’ – an ‘X’ factor that makes an ad shareable or ‘sticky’ – beyond what makes an ad perform well on TV.”

So advertisers are currying the Internet’s favor, using disturbing imagery and themes designed to bait the Internet’s appetite for the fringe.

And if weird is hot, it’s because that’s what “the kids” online are into. “Advertising has always looked towards where young people are freely communicating and how they’re doing it and co-opting it,” said Chris Bruss, VP of branded entertainment for comedy video site “Funny or Die.”

“Whether it’s Twitter or Tumblr or Reddit, let’s go in there and leverage that demographic to try to sell,” he said, “or to come across as more authentic, as someone delivering a message in their voice.”

Read More at NBC News