The Super Bowl has provided some thrilling and unforgettable sports moments. There are historic plays that fans still talk about today like in Super Bowl XXXIV where St Louis Rams Mike Jones stopped Tennessee Titan's Kevin Dyson just one yard short of a touchdown on the very last play. But then we also end up with blow outs and a dullfest like the Super Bowl XLVIII. At least no matter what happens on the field, we have the commercials. In honor of the most reliable entertainment at the Super Bowl, here are awards to the best Super Bowl commercials of all-time.
The Best All-Inclusive Ad: Pepsi Enable "Bob's House" (2008)
It may be the only entirely silent commercial, but it is also special in how it brought awareness to people who are deaf. It was great seeing a major incorporation remembering that their client base includes different types of people. Usually when commercials are trying to bring attention to different groups they have a very serious and melodramatic presentation, so it was equally great to see an ad so creative and deliver a great punchline.
The Best Use of a Beloved Celebrity: Snickers "Betty White" (2010)
Everybody loves Betty White. The commercial is popular just for her inclusion. She is loved for her great sense of humor, and it was hilarious seeing her try to play football. One way for a celebrity to win over the crowd is to be willing to make fun of themselves a little bit, and White has never had any problem with that. The best part was probably seeing Betty White try to insult her teammates after Mike's abilities were questioned.The Best (Often Imitated) Classic Ad: Coke "Mean Joe Greene" (1979)
"Mean" Joe Greene may not be household name among non-football fans anymore, but this commercial has inspired countless other ads, parodies, and references. It is a valued pop culture artifact that was the template for cute little kids softens the heart of the big star. It taught us all that the power of sweetened carbon beverages can allow anyone to sneak back stage and get free memorabilia without being caught or getting in trouble.The Best of Cardboard Box Time Travel: Doritos "Time Travel" (2014)
I'm a sucker for time travel tales, and this may be the best comedy version of the genre since Back to the Future.
It is always great to see an ad promote child entrepreneurship and ingenuity. The excitement and optimism of Mr. Smith as he passes off his Dorito bag and marvels at the machine working while the boy casually rocks the box with his feet left a huge grin on my face. The declaration that it is the future unleashed the gut-busting laughter; and this is one of the truly funny "comedy" commercials. It is also a clever twist on the whole "person tries to come up with an elaborate plan to get their hands on the advertised product" genre.The Best Inspirational Animal Story: Budweiser "Clydesdale Donkey" (2004)
Budweiser has had many Clydesdale ads during the Super Bowl, but only one was an underdog story that would rival Rocky.
A donkey was born into the wrong family and dreamed of something bigger. The training montage is adrenaline pumping and the donkey's speech is inspirational. We're taught to strive for our dreams and be something more than what society labels us. We can all one day hope to pull around a cart full of Budweisers. The Best Use of a Mini Iconic Character: Volkswagen "The Force" (2011)
The face of evil has never been more adorable. My Star Wars
geek may be showing, but I think this is easily one of my all-time favourites. It probably helps that I remember trying to move my toys from the floor to inside the chest by the power of the Force. It also may be one of the few commercials that almost convinced me to make a major purchase based off a bunch of things that have very little to do with the product.The Best Game (Better Than Most Super Bowls): McDonald's "The Showdown" (1993)
In 1993, just having a commercial with the two basketball legends was enough to be very awesome. Watching Larry Bird and Michael Jordan compete in the most insane shoot-out ever was enough for people to be talking about that competition rather than the actual real big game. It was a blast seeing the two players just clowning around for the camera and coming up with increasingly crazier and impossible shots. This was obviously the necessary training Jordan needed to play with Bugs Bunny against nasty aliens.The Best Ad Posing as a SNL Skit: Reebok "Terry Tate Office Linebacker" (2003)
This is why I made the decision to work at home. This really is a brilliant ad that got parody down better than almost anything in the past ten years on Saturday Night Live
. It allowed annoyed workers everywhere to live out the fantasy of getting revenge on the slackers who refused to refill the coffee pot or wasted time playing Solitaire. The Best Nostalgia Makes You Relevant Again Award: Radio Shack "The 80s Called" (2014)
Self-deprecating humor is a great way to warm up to an audience, because it shows the company doesn't take themselves too serious. Radio Shack is well aware their name doesn't really sell well in an era that radios are used as door stoppers. The best way to really win over an audience is to bring out a whole gang of irrelevant and almost forgotten favorites to remind use how awesome they were. I am a child of the '80s, so I am a little biased, but it was pretty amazing being able to catch glimpses of pop culture icons like Q-Bert, Cliff, California Raisins, and Slimer. The real fun is rewatching this ad over and over to discover the variety of past characters (on my fifth viewing, I finally noticed Devo). It also proved the Delorean will always be awesome.The Best Cinematic-like Ad: Macintosh "1984" (1984)
Big budget extended length commercials where still pretty rare in 1984, and this was an event upon its original airing. It didn't even feel like a typical ad as the viewer was assaulted with a dark and bleak Orwellian-like dystopian universe. The brightly clad athlete shatters the mind control and symbolizes that Apple is here to change things. The imagery was powerful and got people talking, and even today this is still one of the most discussed Super Bowl commercials. It was a genius marketing effort to declare Apple was ready to usher in a new era of computers. It may have still taken a few more decades for Apple to really take control of the electronic market, but this ad showed an example of the depth of their innovation.
What are some of your all-time favourite Super Bowl ads? I'm sure I missed a few that you think are the greatest.
(Image and video courtesy of Youtube)