Guess What, NARAL? Everyone Loved Doritos' ‘Ultrasound’ Super Bowl Ad

Note to NARAL: It’s bad when even the liberal media stop seeing eye-to-eye with you on abortion.

During their Monday broadcast morning news shows, ABC, CBS and NBC reviewed the Super Bowl 50 commercials from the night before. While a pro-choice group erupted over a Doritos “Ultrasound” ad that “humanized fetuses,” the networks heralded it as a “favorite” and online stories found it “hilarious.”

The ad shows a nurse performing an ultrasound. While the mother lies on a chair, the dad munches on Doritos. When he notices the unborn baby moves in the same direction of a Doritos chip, he waves it around until the frustrated mother grabs and throws the chip across the room. The ad ends with everyone in the room screaming as the baby shoots out of its mother to eat the chip.

NARAL Pro-Choice America responded with disgust to the ad that was, among other things, “humanizing fetuses.” (Or, you know, humanizing humans.)



Yes, the ad was crude in some respects, but “humanizing fetuses” wasn’t one of them.

The broadcast networks certainly weren’t complaining.

On Monday, NBC Today highlighted Super Bowl ad favorites. Co-anchor Savannah Guthrie introduced Doritos’ “Ultrasound” as the “viewer favorite” from last night.

“Our viewers loved the Doritos commercial,” she stressed.

A guest on the show, marketing expert David Steinberg, CEO and co-founder of Zeta Interactive, agreed. “I see that,” he said. “I thought it was the winner of the night.” 

In that same segment, NBC host Matt Lauer also deemed it the "funniest ad" while correspondent Olivia Sterns commented, "I love it," because it was "absurd and laughable and fun."

And NBC’s hype of the commercial didn’t end there. Far from it.

Later on, Today co-anchor Natalie Morales gushed over the commercial as her “favorite.” “[M]y kids made me rewind and watch over and over and over again,” she said.

And, in the last hour of Today, co-hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb again mentioned the commercial.

Gifford didn’t understand “why people are upset,” while Kotb agreed, “That was funny.”

On CBS This Morning, USA Today business correspondent Charisse Jones explained that voters rated the Doritos ad as third best in USA Today’s ad meter competition.

Jones explained the popularity of the ad:

I think that people really connected to the gender roles. I mean, you’ve got the woman who’s frustrated. She’s about to give birth. And then you’ve got the clueless dad and he’s chomping down on chips as they’re watching the sonogram. And then it's kind of unexpected to see the baby grabbing for the chips. So it was kind of a freaky element too. So it was just really, really funny.

In agreement, co-anchor Norah O’Donnell inserted, “I thought it was funny too.”

Last of the three broadcast networks, ABC’s Good Morning America offered mixed reviews, but ended on a positive note.

Co-anchor Lara Spencer asked a panel on the Super Bowl ads: “Did you guys like that – the ultrasound one? Or did that – ‘cause my – at my gathering people were like, ‘What?’”

Kate Coyne, executive editor at People, gave it a thumbs down. “They’ve actually gotten in a lot of hot water for it already, you know. I mean, mmm, downer, there are 400,000 premature births a year,” she said.

But the others disagreed.

Michelle Collins from The View, chimed in, “I mean, c’mon, I love Doritos in the womb, out of the womb,” while ABC anchor Robin Roberts declared of the commercials: “overall, they were uplifting this year.”

Other shows, such as Live! with Kelly and Michael applauded Doritos.

Monday morning, co-host Michael Strahan called “Ultrasound” his favorite of the ads. [I]it made me laugh out loud in this place,” he said to applause, “this Doritos commercial.” 

“That was funny,” co-host Kelly Ripa agreed, after watching it.

Online news stories also praised the commercial.

The New York Daily News called the ad “hilarious,” while USA Today listed “Ultrasound” under “The top 5 commercials of Super Bowl 50” (according to the news outlet’s ad poll).

Author Chris Morris included the ad in a Fortune piece with the headline, “The 10 Super Bowl Ads that Everyone Is Talking About.” For the first time in four years, Budweiser didn’t make “number one on the list” – because of “Ultrasound.”

Some news outlets didn’t like it, but not for the same reason as NARAL.

The Washington Post called the commercial “icky,” while the Huffington Post’s headline read “Doritos' Super Bowl Ad Is Making Us Rethink Ever Eating Doritos Again.”

And Entertainment Weekly editor Amanda Michelle Steiner charged the ad for turning “pregnancy into an Alien-style nightmare” with “grisly results.”

But they were in the minority.

“Ultrasound” was a fan-made ad submitted by Peter Carstairs from Australia to Doritos’ “Crash the Super Bowl” competition.

His inspiration came from his own baby boy, Freddy.

“His commercial contains plenty of hidden quirks, including the fact the actors in the clip are a real-life married couple who were at the time seven months' pregnant,” reported the Sydney Morning Herald’s Ebony Bowden. “The baby shown in the ultrasound is also an animated version of Carstair [sic] and Budd's son Freddy's ultrasound, now 10 months old.”

Katie Yoder
Katie Yoder
Katie Yoder is Staff Writer, Joe and Betty Anderlik Fellow in Culture at the Media Research Center