Face it, the Super Bowl ads are often better than the Super Bowl itself.
So as we approach the budget-busting, Madison-Avenue-stressing, celebrity-whoring Big Game number 50, let’s revisit the 10 best Super Bowl ads of all time.
Mean Joe Greene was in one of the best Super Bowl ads ever. Yes, he takes the kid’s soda, but he finally learns to smile (and he gives the kid the uniform, too).
First three caveats:
1) Apple’s “1984” spot is left off this list because it was a marketing touchdown but a pretentious mess of an ad.
2) I’ve omitted the “Wassup” campaign because it lowered the American IQ by three points.
3) And I’ve also left off the E-Trade baby, who would have been cute if he weren’t still inducing nightmares.
That said, here’s the list, in descending order:
10. Reebok: Terry Tate, Office Linebacker (2003): Hiring a crazed football player to enforce workplace discipline. Executives all over America are still slapping their foreheads wondering why it took an ad agency to think of that.
9. EDS: Herding Cats (2000): The point was that data service EDS helps companies corral scattered information and channel it toward a common goal. But its real brilliance was the spot-on parody of wizened cowboys conducting a cat drive instead of a cattle drive.
8. Budweiser: Clydesdales, Go For Two (1996): The first of the Clydesdale ads – and yes, every viewer will have a favorite from the Clydesdale canon, which includes Dalmatians, donkeys and a memorial to 9/11 — was a show-stopper. The droll punchline suggested that it’s less surprising to see Clydesdales play football than to see them settle for kicking the point after.
7. Volkswagen: The Force (2011): The cute-kid genre at its quirkiest and most endearing. A young boy who loves Darth Vader seems to be failing in his quest to invoke magic powers until his Dad inside the house hits the remote on his VW key and the car lights blink. All props to Max Page for doing a convincing double take inside a Darth Vader costume.
6. Monster.com: When I Grow Up (1999): Maybe the most successful reverse in Super Bowl ad history — a jarring spot where kids with straight faces say depressing things like “When I grow up, I want to file all day.” The point: Land a sweet gig at monster.com.
5. Coca-Cola: Mean Joe Greene, Here Kid (1980): This spot debuted months before Super Bowl XIV, but its airing during the big game shows that a great ads can transcend even the hype of a Super Bowl. It works best because it featured one of the baddest football players of his day turning Sensitive New Age Guy after a kid gives him a refreshing Coke.
4. Pepsi: Your Cheating Heart (1996): Music has been a big part of Super Bowl ads, and it’s never blended more perfectly than when the Coke deliveryman takes a furtive look around and sneaks a Pepsi to the tune of Hank Williams’ “Your Cheating Heart.”
3. FedEx: Castaway (2003): A parody of the Tom Hanks movie, so brilliantly written it could outlast the film. A FedEx guy stranded on an island for five years finally gets off and faithfully delivers his package, which the recipient blithely tells him contained a satellite phone.
2. CBS: Late Show Promo (2010): Okay, this was a promotion for the Super Bowl itself, channeled through David Letterman’s “Late Show” prism. But hey, that’s a product, so this is an ad. Letterman, Oprah Winfrey and Jay Leno, who were not the best of chums, hunkered down together to mutter brief remarks making fun of themselves. This ad is 15 seconds of proof that less can be so much more.
1. McDonald’s: Showdown, Larry Bird/Michael Jordan (1993): If you care at all about sports, any sports, this absurd game of H-O-R-S-E (“off the expressway, over the river, off the billboard, through the window, off the wall, nothing but net”) is the best sports parody ever. Nothing comes close.
Source: Google News Super Bowl Commercials