HomeAway Changes Controversial Super Bowl Commercial After Outcry (Video)
HomeAway has apologized and re-edited a Super Bowl commercial that featured a dummy baby flying through the air and smacking against the wall after viewers reacted with outcry.
The company, which matches consumers with rental homes instead of hotels while vacationing, released a 14-paragraph apology Thursday, according to the New York Times.
Brian Sharples, the chief executive of HomeAway, wrote, "We know our ad has offended a group of people…Of course it was our intent that the ‘test baby’ create a moment of comic shock [because] with one 30-second spot at the Super Bowl, you need to make a big impression to break through to the audience."
HomeAway, he says, "worked hard" to imply it was a joke by having the commercial's announcer say it was a "test baby" and having the text flash across the screen.
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But after objection, including by the founders of the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation (which raises funds and awareness about traumatic childhood brain injuries), Sharples says, "We feel we made a mistake in judgment, and for that all of us at HomeAway are truly sorry."
The original ad showed a cramped family in a hotel room, and ended with the father inadvertently sending the baby doll flying in the air and smushed up against the window. The edited commercials shows the same family scene, but the flying baby is caught safely by the commercial spokesperson, who hands it over to his mother and says, "Just a test baby."
Viewers were also offended by a Groupon spot that made light of Tibet's oppression against China's communist regime.
At first, the company explained it was a joke directed by Christopher Guest, but on Thursday, the company announced plans to pull the ads.
"We hate that we offended people, and we're very sorry that we did -- it's the last thing we wanted," founder Andrew Mason said. "We've listened to your feedback, and since we don't see the point in continuing to anger people, we're pulling the ads."