SUPER BOWL COMMERCIALS: FROM MEAN JOE TO HOT DANICA

Monkey500 by Monkey500 on Jul. 17, 2014
There’s really no way one can overstate how enormous an event the Super Bowl is, even disregarding for a moment the football element of it. Super Bowl Sunday has become for all intents and purposes a national holiday, with a huge economic impact throughout the country. For millions who tune in though, it is the Super Bowl commercials that are an even bigger attraction than the game itself. For companies, they are the ideal way to get a message out to virtually every possible consumer all at once, and the price of filming the ads as well as the rate the network charges for airing them continues to rise each year. Let us be your quarterback as we go through the playbook of some of the best, worst, weirdest and most controversial Super Bowl commercials ever to stick in our national consciousness.

WHAT WAS THE FIRST SUPER BOWL COMMERCIAL TO REALLY HAVE AN IMPACT?

Although of course there have always been ads on Super Bowl games, the first one that became iconic aired during the 1974 telecast. Masterlock’s commercial offered a rifle shooting one of their locks, and demonstrated that even the bullet couldn’t break the lock. While by today’s standards it might seem almost quaint, people still like looking at real bullets hitting things over 40 years later. Due to the popularity of the commercial, the company produced other versions of it that ran on the Super Bowl in several other years.

WHAT WAS THE MOST EXPENSIVE SUPER BOWL COMMERICAL EVER CREATED?

In 2011, Chrysler aired a two minute spot entitled “Imported From Detroit” that cost over 12 million dollars to make. It featured Eminem, and showcased scenes from the Motor City. Whether or not it was cost effective is something that can be debated, but the fact that it is still discussed and watched today speaks volumes. Note that this clip from youtube has nearly 17 million views.

WHAT COMPANY HAS THE LONGEST HISTORY OF MAKING GOOD SUPER BOWL ADS?

Just as fans will speculate on the outcome of the game, they will make guesses as to which ads will become the viral hits. For years, Budweiser has made some of the most popular and discussed ads. Since 1986, they have offered spots featuring the iconic Budweiser Clydesdales, and those horses are as closely associated with the Super Bowl as nearly anyone short of John Madden. Here’s the original spot.

The campaign has changed through the years, with this cute one from 2014 adding adorable puppies to the mix. Horses, puppies, beer and cuteness add up to a Super Bowl classic.

Budweiser has also had success with their Super Bowl commercials with the croaking frogs named Bud, Weis and Er. What exactly they have to do with football or beer is likely besides the point, but then again, if you’ve had enough to drink, you can probably relate to being a croaking frog.

Although it didn’t originate during the Super Bowl, Bud’s famous “Wassup” campaign did make a memorable appearance during the 2000 telecast. It might not have helped to sell beer (although it almost certainly did), but it definitely made the catch phrase so imitated by lame people throughout the world that it should have received a penalty. Looking back at it years later, it still earns a big laugh.

WHAT COMPANY HAS BEST ALLOWED THE VIEWER INTO THE AD-MAKING PROCESS?

To that end, no one has approached what Doritos has done with its “Crash the Super Bowl” promotion, which allows fans to send in their own commercials for possible inclusion during the telecast.

This gem from 2009 called “The Power of the Crunch” showed that a good bite could cause a hot chick’s clothes to come off, money to fly out of an ATM, and a cop to turn into a monkey. You know, like what Charlie Sheen refers to as Tuesday.

This one from 2014 called “Time Machine” cost $200 to make and earned its maker a million dollar prize. Yes, it’s all that and a bag of chips.

In 2012, Doritos opened up the contest to offer a million dollar prize if one of their commercials was voted best commercial of the game by Facebook users, and this clever ad called “Sling Baby” was the winner. It also offers up proof for those who think that babies are worthless that they do have some value as mini boomerangs to catch snacks.

WHAT IS THE MOST FAMOUS SUPER BOWL AD OF ALL TIME?

That is a subjective question, but two spots are good candidates as the best answer. Apple’s iconic “1984” ad helped launch the Macintosh, and its cinematic appeal, mysterious imagery and unforgettable ending caused countless conversations. In the ad world, it is considered one of the most important and revolutionary ads ever created, as it looked and sounded like no other ad that had come before it. Considering  that the product itself was meant to be revolutionary, the tone perfectly matched what it was selling and has (subliminally or otherwise) helped sell countless  Apple products over the years.

The other strong candidate as most famous of them all is the Coke commercial starring Mean Joe Greene. Although it had aired prior to the 1980 Super Bowl, it was during the broadcast of the big game that it really hit the collective zeitgeist. The heart warming image of the kid offering the huge dude a Coke and then being rewarded with a jersey remains one of the most beloved commercials ever made.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE SEXIEST SUPER BOWL COMMERICALS TO EVER AIR?

There have been many Super Bowl commercials that have used sex to help sell their message, which is not surprising in that Super Bowl Sunday is arguably just an homage to the “guy” in all of us – i.e. football, beer, overeating and scoping out hot chicks. This memorable clip from 2010 has Megan Fox in a bathtub pretending to send a sexy selfie out to the world.

Pepsi has done countless memorable Super Bowl commercials over the years, but for pure sex appeal, the one from 1992 with Cindy Crawford was hard to beat. Not much happens other than she walks out of a car in slow motion, some dorky kids stare at her, and she drinks from the can. Reading that, you might not get the sizzle factor, but after seeing it, you’ll know why it was such a sensation.

No mention of sexy Super Bowl ads would be complete without mention of the many spots that Godaddy has run during the game. The first was in 2005, and immediately provoked controversy. Godaddy was the first, but certainly not last, company to realize that controversy related to its ads would help generate attention and press, and sales did rise significantly for the company in the wake of the ad. This ad was actually scheduled to air twice during the broadcast, but become so notorious so quickly that it was pulled before it could run a second time.

In the years since, they have used Danica Patrick as their spokesperson for their ads. Now that they are known for their sexy ads, they continually tweak the branding but never lose track of what put them on the map in the first place.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BEST KNOWN BANNED SUPER BOWL ADS?

Some sponsors have figured out that just by attempting to get an ad on the air, even if they know full well that it won’t be accepted, they will reap a great deal of free publicity.  Fox famously banned a 2011 ad for Ashley Madison, a website that encourages cheating on your spouse or partner. The fact that the video was then posted online allowed the company to get a Super Bowl push without spending the millions it would have cost to actually buy the airtime.

A controversy of a different kind came from Sodastream, whose ad with Scarlett Johansson ended with the starlet saying “Sorry Coke and Pepsi.” They did alter the commercial to remove the offending line, but the censorship itself helped to grab even more attention for the company.  The company’s CEO said at the time “What are they afraid of? Which advertiser in America doesn't mention a competitor? This is the kind of stuff that happens in China. I'm disappointed as an American."

Perhaps the funniest thing you’ll read all day are these objections that NBC gave PETA for rejecting their ad in 2009 because it “depicts a level of sexuality exceeding our standards.” Among the shots they wanted cut were “licking pumpkin, touching her breast with her hand while eating broccoli, pumpkin from behind between legs, rubbing pelvic region with pumpkin, screwing herself with broccoli, asparagus on her lap appearing as if it is ready to be inserted into vagina, licking eggplant and rubbing asparagus on breast.”  If you always wanted to see a sexy vegetarian getting it on with a gourd, you’ll really enjoy this sizzler of a spot.



 

 

WHAT WAS THE FUNNIEST SUPER BOWL AD THAT ALMOST NO ONE GOT TO SEE LIVE?

While of course the famous ads are run nationally, occasionally spots will only run in some markets. Will Ferrell did a clever ad for Old Milwaukee in 2013 that ran only in the tiny markets of Sherman, Texas; Ardmore, Oklahoma and Glendive, Montana. Why those markets? Why Old Milwaukee? Don’t ask too many questions – just enjoy the craziness.

If those three markets made it still seem too big time for you, you’ll really appreciate the commercial he did the year prior which aired only in North Platte, Nebraska, which is considered the smallest television market in the United States.