Nursery rhymes and fairy tales tend to be have more horrifying origins than the modern versions that are told to children now. If you don’t already know the details of the first Little Mermaid or Sleeping Beauty stories, maybe don’t look those up. The same goes for a lot of classic nursery rhymes. But in advance of Super Bowl LI TurboTax seems to have looked back at those versions of children’s tales and decided to one up that horror in their first teaser commercial for the big game. The first of three commercials starring Humpty Dumpty, he who fell off a wall and couldn’t be put back together again, aired during the Steelers-Patriots AFC Championship Game on Sunday night and it is genuinely horrifying.
It’s pretty much the norm at this point for companies to shoot for the stars in the “creepy but memorable” category for Super Bowl commercials (remember last year’s PuppyMonkeyBaby?), all the better to stand out amongst the dozens of commercials airing that night. But based on this early look at TurboTax’s advertising strategy, it’s pretty obvious that they need to chill out just a bit. Because nobody needs to see this horror show more than once.
In the commercial Humpty does indeed fall off a wall as he is known to do. But the big question is what he was doing when he fell, which turns out to be his taxes. This fits in with the commercial’s tagline “turbotax anywhere” but the rest of the spot is where things get relentlessly disturbing. When Humpty falls he is obviously completely broken, which is weird enough to watch, but then he pukes out some of his yolk while the helicopter is arriving which is too much to handle. And that’s before the egg is shown sloppily stitched back together again in the hospital or it flashes to a bunch of people watching a terribly injured person live on television and barely even flinch. What crazy universe does this commercial take place in? It’s part of the inherent weirdness of transitioning cartoons or storybooks to a live action setting, and in this case it will definitely scar some people along the way.
Maybe before those other two upcoming commercials air TurboTax can go back to the editing room and make them a little more palatable. Because this is too far in the “purposefully creepy” direction, and is made worse when you think about the hundreds of times it will run between now and Super Bowl Sunday.