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Puppy-Monkey-Baby Ad Seared Into Nation’s Nightmares After SB50

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This year, as with the years preceding it, advertisers shelled out millions to capture the attention of Super Bowl viewers. Some of this year’s offerings, like the Bud Light ad featuring Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen as running mates, were innocuous fun. Others, like the ad about opioid-complicated bowel movements or the one with the adorably smiley intestine going through airport security(??), forced us to consider our fellow Americans’ gastrointestinal woes a bit longer than we’re comfortable with. But you know what really made people uncomfortable? Mountain Dew’s #Puppymonkeybaby.

It’s easy to trace the ‘Dew’s motivation for the ad. To marketers, Millennials are a mysterious, media-savvy, sexy group with lots of disposable income to spare for soda. As a demographic, their mercurial tastes are hard to predict, but ad agencies — many of whom employ members of said target market, making for a creative and a focus group member in one — know that young people love weird stuff like Tumblr memes and absurd stoner comedy in the vein of Tim & Eric. As such, their commercial during the 2015 Super Bowl took a similar “get weird” tack, soundtracking what appears to be a bad acid trip in a basement with “Out The Speakers feat. Rich Kidz” from A-Trak with Milo & Otis. It also used lighting and a color palette that hewed a bit too closely to the video for DJ Snake and Lil Jon’s “Turn Down For What.” Bizarre, sure, less than original, definitely.

But last year’s ad’s best quality? The absence of a creature with a pug’s face, hairy monkey arms, human baby legs and a man’s voice. A clown with a butcher knife could never hope to be so confusing, so unsettling. YOU SCARED AL ROKER, MOUNTAIN DEW, AND HE’S A NATIONAL TREASURE. I HOPE YOU’RE HAPPY.

As the topic continued to trend long after many SB50 viewers saw the ad for the first time, it became clear that Puppy-Monkey-Baby had its share of fans. And that’s fine — people are allowed to like abhorrent things that pander to its audience. But comparing the breakout star among this year’s underwhelming class of Super Bowl commercials to the breakout star of last year’s halftime show, as many have, is just going too far. @Cendall gets it.

Share your take on Mountain Dew’s Frankensteined monstrosity headline-grabbing creature in the comments.

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Next: The Best + Worst Ads of Super Bowl 50

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