Super Bowl 50: The 10 best Super Bowl ads ever – San Jose Mercury News

Silly sight gags. Stupid animal tricks. Wisecracking celebrities. … Madison Avenue will stop at nothing to seize our attention on Super Bowl Sunday — the holy grail of advertising.

Since the mid-1980s, the NFL’s big game has been home to some of the splashiest — and most expensive — commercials ever produced. To wit: CBS is charging as much as $5 million for a 30-second spot during Super Bowl 50.

But despite all the money and hype, only a precious few ads manage to break through the clutter and earn a permanent place in our memories..

Here are 10 that make our hall of fame:

1. Apple: “1984”

XVIII: Jan. 22, 1984

A framegrab of the Apple Super Bowl commercial with from 1984. (Youtube)

Directed by Ridley Scott, this dark, Orwellian-themed ad for the yet-to-be-released Macintosh became the most storied Super Bowl spot of all time as it threw out the old marketing playbook. A young, rebellious female athlete representing Apple runs through a room of automatons and hurls a sledgehammer into a giant image of Big Brother (IBM). The aura of doom and oppression is shattered. “Think different,” indeed.

2. McDonald’s: “The Showdown”

XXVII: Jan. 31, 1993

Two legendary basketball players go mano a mano as Larry Bird and Michael Jordan play an increasingly outlandish game of H-O-R-S-E. At stake: a Big Mac and fries. No matter that these multimillionaires could afford boatloads of burgers, they keep upping the ante, shooting from gym rafters and atop skyscrapers. The concept is clever, amusing and personal, and for McDonald’s, it hits “nothing but net.”

3. Volkswagen: “The Force”

XLV: Feb. 6, 2011

Even Yoda probably got a kick out of this brilliant spot featuring a kid decked out in Darth Vader gear and trying to use The Force on pets, appliances and toys. Alas, nothing he does works — until the new car in the driveway comes to life, thanks to some remote-control aid from Dad. This was a winning blend of humor, adorability and nostalgia. Love it, we did.

4. Pepsi: “Two Kids”

XXVI: Jan. 26, 1992

This steamy ad featured a classic setup. As supermodel Cindy Crawford, clad in cutoff jeans, exits a red convertible and seductively saunters toward a vending machine, two young boys appear to be ogling her from a distance. Their eyes widen as the leggy Crawford guzzles an ice-cold can of Pepsi. But the joke is that they’re actually entranced by the newly designed Pepsi can. “It’s beauuutiful!”

5. Budweiser: “Frogs”

XXIX: Jan. 29, 1995

Budweiser long has relied on animal magnetism in its ads (the Clydesdales, puppies, etc.). This one had three fat frogs perched on lily pads in a swamp, croaking “Bud” … “Weis” … “Errr.” The camera pans up to reveal a tavern with a neon Budweiser sign. The wonderfully simple concept spawned some funny variations, including a pair of swamp lizards named Frank and Louie, who tried, and failed, to kill the frogs.

6. “When I Grow Up”

XXXIII: Jan. 31, 1999

This provocative black-and-white ad for the online job-listing service touched a nerve with working stiffs everywhere by having a series of children declare their desire to, among other things, “file all day,” “have a brown nose” and “be forced into early retirement.” The message came through loud and clear: No one wants to grow up to settle.

A framegrab of the Snickers Super Bowl commercial with Betty White from 2010. (Youtube)

7. Snickers: “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry”

XLIV: Feb. 7, 2010

Betty White proved that she can play in pain for this spot about pickup football combatants who are way off their games because they’re hungry. The former Golden Girl gets brutally pummeled — until she chomps into a Snickers bar and transforms into the young male player she’s supposed to be. Priceless.

8. Google: “Parisian Love”

XLIV: Feb. 7, 2010

It’s not easy to create a viscerally engaging ad for a search engine, but Google made a French connection with this one. It managed to tell a heartwarming romance that blooms in Paris by displaying only a string of search queries that pinpoint all the key moments. It was a case of simple, yet elegant, perfection. C’est magnifique.

9. Reebok: “Terry Tate: Office Linebacker”

XXXVII: Jan. 26, 2003

A framegrab of the Reebok Super Bowl commercial from 2003. (Youtube)

Slapstick violence can be hilarious when done right. To boost productivity, a CEO hires a burly football player who unleashes bone-crunching beatdowns on employees, punctuated by loud declarations like “Break was over 15 minutes ago!” and “Game time is pain time!” It was a rollicking send-up of office politics and mission-statement rhetoric.

10. Coca-Cola: “Mean Joe Greene”

XIII: Jan. 21, 1979

This one is all about a Coke and a smile — and a sweaty jersey. A surly Steelers’ lineman limps toward the locker room, in no mood to put up with the cute little boy who tries to cheer him up by offering his soda. The boy persists and Mean Joe finally relents, chugging the Coke. Instantly, he turns into putty and tosses his jersey to the kid. Coke scores a touchdown with this heart-tugging classic.

Source: Google News Super Bowl Commercials
Super Bowl 50: The 10 best Super Bowl ads ever – San Jose Mercury News

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