Always a hot topic this time of year, the ads for Sunday’s Super Bowl XLIV seem to be pushing more — and different — buttons than ever before.
CBS has been making headlines for allowing a spot from evangelical nonprofit group Focus on the Family, featuring Heisman Trophy-winning Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow and his mother, that is believed to contain an anti-abortion message.
The network, however, turned down an ad for a gay dating website as well as one submitted by Scottsdale-based web hosting firm Go Daddy narrated by race car driver and spokeswoman Danica Patrick. That ad features an effeminate male character who launches a new career as a fashion designer with an online store. (A Go Daddy ad that did pass muster features Patrick in a send-up of ’80s movies Flashdance and Weird Science — a photo of which the Tribune ran on Jan. 27 and caused at least one reader much distress, despite it being tame by today’s standards.)
But one of the strangest stories to come out of this year’s Super Bowl commercials may be an ad for Electronic Arts’ new video game Dante’s Inferno, an action title for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PSP based on the 14th century epic by Italian poet Dante Alighieri.
EA’s 30-second spot for the game will air during the fourth quarter of the showdown between the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints. (Saints — how appropriate for a Middle Ages tale of storming the gates of Beelzebub.) But rather than the desired marketing tagline “Go to Hell,” CBS has forced the video game company to adopt the slogan “Hell Awaits,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Hit the jump for some hellish images from the TV spot.
The game is no stranger to controversy — in fact, controversy has been the focus of EA’s marketing campaign. Last month we learned of a new edition of the classical poem that will come wrapped in the game’s cover artwork. In June, EA secured an early seat in Hell with a publicity stunt involving a staged protest against its own game to coincide with the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, in Los Angeles. They also offered a $6.66 discount on 09/09/09 and sent $200 checks to video game critics, daring the journalists to cash them.
There was also a viral marketing campaign that involves a website and promotional video for a nonexistent game called Mass: We Pray, which links to the Inferno game’s official site and a Facebook app.