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Cards Against Humanity Dissects Its Expensive, Weird, 'Failed' Super Bowl Ad Of A Potato

By Stephen Gossett in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 6, 2017 7:09PM

Update, February 7:
Chicagoist was not able to independently verify that the "Potato" ad ran in the Chicago market, but Cards Against Humanity's Max Temkin did confirm that the ad did indeed air in the Chicago market. We thought that reply may have been part of the joke, but it was not, as others have confirmed on social media seeing the ad on Sunday night. We regret not fully taking him at his word and framing his comments with suspicion.

At this point, Cards Against Humanity is probably as well know for their gleefully post-modern, Dadaist approach to advertising as they are for their actual product, the deliberately offensive party game with which the company shares its name. Their latest is an elaborate prankster ruse tied to the zenith of advertising excess: the Super Bowl ad.

CAH —they of the highly Obama-tailored job listing for CEO and a campaign to dig a massive hole in the ground—posted on their blog this morning that they'd be going out of business following a disastrous, supremely expensive Super Bowl commercial: a 30-second spot featuring nothing more than a potato scrawled with the word "Advertisement."

CAH recounts in their blog-post autopsy how they fired a high-powered but "inside the box" ad agency and doubled down on their own potato concept (America's preferred vegetable, they reasoned). "The problem we failed to anticipate was that sports fans ultimately had trouble making the leap from “Super Bowl” to “potato” to “Cards Against Humanity.” This was a real lesson in humility." the post read.

Not content to only get their shots in at exorbitantly accessed "creative" ad space, Cards Against Humanity of course got its jabs in at pseudo-disruptive "fail up" corporate speak: "At Cards Against Humanity, we believe that you can only become a master by trying and failing. In this way, failure is life’s greatest teacher; failure is actually success. At Cards Against Humanity, we fail all the time."

Of course, the ad seems to have never actually ran, despite co-creator Max Temkin's clever attempts to paint the picture. He retweeted posts such as the following during the Big Game. FWIW, Temkin told Chicagoist by email that the clip ran regionally in the 5 p.m. slot. Did you actually see it?

Perhaps the better question is whether or not the move rises to the level of previous stunts. Is the campaign guilty of the same impulse it nominally critiques, devouring its own tail of branding like some painfully self-aware ouroboros? Something to consider while staring blankly at a potato.