Ten Great Super Bowl Commercials
By JANIE CAMPBELL
Updated 12:05 AM EST, Wed, Jan 13, 2010
It’s coming! The one night of the year when you make a mad dash to the bathroom during the game, because the commercials are not to be missed. Most of them, of course, stink anyway. Overwrought, overly sentimental, overly-T-and-A’d (we’re looking at you, Go Daddy!) — it’s rare that a Super Bowl commercial is actually worth the money. But that got us thinking: what are some of the good ones? The all-time greats? The ads that still make us Feel Things, years later? The list is subjective, of course, and based not on marketing data or consumer ratings or any such nonsense, but pure opinion, baby, because if we hear those Budweiser frogs one more time we’re liable to go Wizards Locker Room on our own television. Well, that, and comparing Bob Dylan to will.i.am is straight up horrifying.
10. E*Trade, “Money Out the Wazoo” (2000) Clever plays on words are our first love. These line deliveries run a close second.
09. Budweiser, “Sleigh Ride” (2004) Sure, it ripped Seinfield, but we’ve been on this date. And so had America, a country that praises bathroom humor and relatability over drinkability. Whatever that is.
08. Budweiser, “Respect” (2002) How did the company that foisted Spuds MacKenzie the party dog, talking frogs, and “WAZZZZZUP” upon us strike just the right note at the most difficult time? Unclear, but pass the Kleenex, dammit.
07. Coca Cola, “Mean Joe Green” (1979) A man ingests liquid from a stranger who may have already backwashed into it, and slaps him with sweaty, disgusting laundry in return. People were so charmed by this it spawned a television movie and was remade in Argentina with fat, drunk, cheating soccer player Diego Maradona, who preferred the other kind of coke 10 out of 10 times in taste tests.
06. Masterlock, “Shot Lock” (1974) “On December 5th, 1973, at a rifle range outside of Los Angeles…” This is everything America loves: an intro worthy of “Unsolved Mysteries,” guns, science experiments, and two-way radio parlance. In fact, all that’s missing is a voluptuous shooter in a Princess Leia outfit. But talk about building confidence in a brand: you might murder our merchant marines and hijack palates of goods, Somalian Pirates, but you will never have the extra change of clothes in our gym lockers. WE REPEAT: NEVER.
05. Doritos, “Crystal Ball” (2008) It was funny, sure — who hasn’t wanted to bug out in a vague Don Knotts sort of way and smash a vending machine? (Or hurl something heavy at his boss? WHAT.) But this commercial brought Super Bowl ads full circle to Apple’s “1984”: it was created by two random guys from Batesville, Indiana, who entered a contest and proceeded to throw a sledgehammer at the advertising establishment — for a whole 30 seconds, anyway. So meta!
04. Monster, “When I Grow Up” (1999) Oof. Monster hit it out of the park with their first-ever ad, an unsettling piece that made kids look smart and adults realize their jobs were crap. Or something; we bet half these kids went off and stuck toys up their noses as soon as filming was over. (Some of us, on the other hand, had dreamed of a day when we’d be employed making lists of Super Bowl ads. Take that, junior!)
03. EDS, “Cat Herders” (2000) No idea what EDS does, or if it’s still around. But the cat became the star of the Internet Decade, helped in part by this hilarious cowboy spoof/play of words. A world without LOLCats and Keyboard Cat and cat herders? DO NOT WANT.
02. Apple, “1984” (1983) Well, duh. It’s only one of the most iconic commercials of all time. The funny thing is, if you attend a Steve Jobs keynote at a MacWorld Expo, this is exactly what it looks like. Minus the ’80s hottie in short shorts.
01. Reebok, “Terry Tate: Office Linebacker” (2003) Pure genius. The Terry Tate concept poked fun at office-speak (“think outside the box!”), let us vicariously set Ray Lewis on that annoying co-worker who NEVER REFILLS THE COPIER PAPER TRAY WHEN IT RUNS OUT, and allowed us to laugh at innocent onces being violently flattened out of nowhere. People being hit unawares is always, always funny. And the execution? If you don’t laugh at “He-ey, Janice!” you’re made of sterner stuff than you ought to be. This probably didn’t sell a single Reebok, but it sure made us giggle. “That’s a long distance call, DOUG.”
First Published: Jan 12, 2010 10:49 AM EST