Miley Cyrus is starting to look almost tame next to what some Super Bowl advertisers already are up to this go-round.
Butterfinger, the Nestle-owned brand that will air its first-ever Super Bowl spot on Feb. 2, has posted a super-suggestive Super Bowl teaser spot about a nervous couple, Mr. & Mrs. Buttercup, in the waiting room before a - wink, wink - "Edible Couples Counseling" session. Never mind that this therapy-seeking couple are personified versions of Peanut Butter and Chocolate - looking for something to make their lives more, well, exotic. "Don't you think it would be nice to try something new - and crunchy?" asks the female member of the duo.
At the same time, a top entrant in the annual Doritos "Crash the Super Bowl" competition for consumer-made Super Bowl spots, features a fellow whose singular mission in life appears to be sucking the fingers of Doritos-eaters who have that familiar orange-flavoring stuck on their fingers after eating the chips. When folks stick their fingers through a finger-sized hole in the wall near his desk, he stops everything and sucks away at the fingers.
Sound like Super Bowl advertisers, themselves, may need some sex therapy?
"You can't shock people any more with nudity or foul language," says Barbara Lippert, advertising critic and columnist for Mediapost.com. "Instead, you have to create these visual things that you wouldn't ever have put together in your own mind."
Perhaps the greatest irony of all: This is the Super Bowl when the royalty of racy Super Bowl advertisers, GoDaddy, has opted to go straight. Yes, Danica Patrick will still be in one of GoDaddy's ads, but she'll no longer be surrounded by sexy GoDaddy girls. It's almost as if the rest of the bunch is preparing to fall all over each other for GoDaddy's pushing-the-limits mantle.
But it's the 60-second Butterfinger teaser, on YouTube and at ButterfingerCups.com, that has social media abuzz. For Butterfinger, it's an attempt to garner attention for its new peanut butter cup candy bar. The teaser seems to hark back to the 1970s, when sexual therapists Masters & Johnson were still the cultural rage. The therapy-seeking couple, in the waiting room, even read a copy of Exotic Snacking (looks like Erotic Snacking), and oohs and ahhs as they turn the pages.
In the spot, an ecstatic Cheese and Cracker couple rush out of the therapist's office, snickering, as they carry out with them a very phallic-looking, 3-foot-long salami.
Executives at Butterfinger-maker Nestle insist the teaser is all tongue-in-cheek - and targeted at a digital audience of 18- to 34-year-olds. "Some food pairings are better with a twist," says Jeremy Vandervoet, brand manager for Butterfinger. "We're just trying to be funny with food - and not over-think it."
While the same Peanut Butter and Chocolate couple from the teaser will appear in the actual, 30-second Super Bowl spot, "We are thoughtful that it will be for a mass audience," says Vandervoet.
A spokesman for Frito-Lay insists its "Finger Cleaner" commercial is hardly supposed to be racy. "It's about the universal question: How do you clean off a finger that has Doritos cheese on it?" says spokesman Chris Kuechenmeister.
Even then, jokes, Lippert, "I'd much rather see ads with suggestive food sex than with Kim Kardashian."