The Super Bowl is the most watched televised event in the United States, with up to 120 million people tuning in to see who will win the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Of course, not everyone watches the Super Bowl for the football. The Super Bowl is also synonymous with the many innovative and eye-catching commercials that air during the game. Since they're shelling out millions of dollars for airtime (NBC charged up to $4.5 million last year for a single commercial spot), companies will pull out all the stops to make sure people are talking about their ads for years to come. While many commercials have flopped over the years (remember when Nationwide Insurance depressed America with their "Dead Children" commercial last year), the best commercials are as timeless and memorable as the Super Bowls themselves:
"Hey Kid, Catch"
One of the first popular Super Bowl ads was a Coke commercial that featured Hall of Famer "Mean Joe" Greene. When a young child offers him a Coke after a particularly brutal game, Greene returns the favor by tossing the child his game-worn jersey. While the commercial actually aired earlier in the season, it gained notoriety when it aired during Super Bowl XIV. According to Greene, chugging down an entire Coke during the commercial made him burp whenever he tried to deliver his now famous line, leading to several miscues and re-takes.
Coke mimicked the commercial in other countries, although it replaced Mean Joe Greene with other stars. NBC also turned the commercial into a TV movie, which is probably the most 1980s thing ever.prevnext
McDonalds' most iconic Super Bowl commercial featured basketball legends Larry Bird and Michael Jordan competing in a shooting contest for a Big Mac sandwich. While it seems strange for a Super Bowl commercial to feature two basketball stars, viewers loved watching the two increasingly raise the stakes with extremely ludicrous trick shots. After shooting the basketball off scoreboards, over rafters, and through windows, the commercial ends with the pair preparing a shot from the top of the then Sears Tower. McDonalds re-did the commercial in 2010 with Dwight Howard and LeBron James, with a surprise cameo by Bird.prevnext
Terry Tate: Office Linebacker
What happens when office productivity dips and costs began to spiral out of control? You call in Terry Tate to enforce the rules and bring the pain. Reebok introduced the "Office Linebacker" in 2002 as a rules enforcer for a fictional firm. When workers left the coffee pot empty or took a long break, Tate came in to deliver a punishing tackle and lay down the law in the workplace. While the Tate commercials were highly memorable, it's unclear how effective they were promoting the Reebok brand. According to one survey, only 55% of respondents realized the Office Linebacker ads were for the shoe company. Reebok released 9 "episodes" featuring Tate and several other companies have recruited the linebacker for their own ads.prevnext
Every year, Budweiser will air at least one commercial featuring its iconic Clydesdale horses. Whether it's a goofy ad showing other animals trying to live up to the Clydesdale traditions or a tearjerker that plays on the themes of family and friendship, the Clydesdale ads are always a popular spot during the big game. One of the best Clydesdale commercials actually plays off a previous Clydesdale ad aired in 1996, which showed two teams of Clydesdales playing football. In the hilarious 2003 ad "Replay", a zebra stands in an NFL referee's replay booth as two teams of Clydesdales wait for his final decision on the call.prevnext
Ridley Scott might be best known for movies like Alien, Blade Runner, and Gladiator, but in 1984, he teamed up with Apple to promote the company's first ever home computer. Playing off of themes from George Orwell's 1984 book (with Apple rival IBM playing the role of "Big Brother), Scott spent a then massive budget of $900,000 to create a commercial that was more of a sci-fi short film than a traditional commercial spot. While the commercial only aired during Super Bowl XVIII, marketing experts hailed it as an instant classic and often claim that it representing a turning point in Super Bowl advertising.
Scott is returning to Super Bowl commercials this year, this time teaming up with Liam Neeson and LG to promote a revolutionary new style of television.prev