Ever since the Super Bowl became the biggest sporting event in the country, the expensive spots have been just as anticipated as – and sometimes better than – the games. So, in the spirit of Super Bowl week, we’ve compiled our list of the best Super Bowl commercials of all-time, including one with the sexy Cindy Crawford. This Sunday promises to bring plenty of fireworks on the gridiron, however don’t look away from your TV when the action breaks because the next commercial you see could be the one that sweeps the nation. Take a look and see if you remember any of these gems.
Cindy Crawford Drinks a Pepsi (1997)
Possibly the most iconic soda commercial ever created, Pepsi didn’t resort to CGI animals, specially penned songs or even competitor smack talk – it just filmed Cindy Crawford and her famous mole downing one of their drinks in ten seconds flat. Pretty girl, pretty car, pretty good cola. What more could you ask for?
Bird vs. Jordan “The Showdown” for a Big Mac (1993)
This vintage spot combined two Super Bowl spot staples: sports icons and fast food. If they’d finished their game of HORSE with a refreshing beer and/or Coke/Pepsi, the collective consumer brain might have just melted. The wonder of seeing Michael Jordan and Larry Bird together may have since lost its luster, but it’s still a gem for Jordan’s Cosby sweater. Also, the off-the-scoreboard, off-the-expressway shots are amusing, but the ad works because, given that we’re talking about Michael and Larry, they’re almost believable.
Electronic Data Systems: Cat Herding (2000)
To many, 2000 marked the “dot com” Super Bowl. Dozens of Web sites—most of which don’t exist any longer—threw their well-funded hats in the commercial ring. And one of them was Electronic Data Systems, who more than made up for their boring name with sixty seconds worth of burly cowboys herding fields of CGI kitties. Apparently it was some sort of metaphor.
Hank, the Aspiring Budweiser Clydesdale (2006)
Clydesdales are majestic creatures, and apparently, all they want in this world is to pull around old-timey trucks full of beer. When Hank the horse was told in last year’s Budweiser spot that he wasn’t up to the grade, he enlisted the help of a Dalmatian to get in shape. It was both ludicrous and oddly heartwarming – as interspecies friendships almost always are.
America Meets Spuds MacKenzie (1987)
Of all the adorable critters enlisted to sell alcohol or tobacco, only one was the coolest and cutest. Spuds MacKenzie (real name “Honey Tree Evil Eye” – seriously) started shilling Bud Light one magical late-’80s Super Bowl and did so for several years until angry parents who didn’t like his drunken, free love attitude and the revelation that he was actually a she killed the commercials forever.
E*Trade’s Monkey Commercial (1999)
Is this pre-recession era E*Trade commercial less funny now that our nation’s economy is in the toilet? Maybe, but we still love its clever tagline and decidedly postmodern take on the standard Super Bowl commercial.
Bud Light: Cedric the Entertainer and the Body Treatment (2001)
Cedric the Entertainer is romancing a very hot date. When it’s time to cool off just a little, he eases into the kitchen to grab two bottles of Bud Light from the fridge. Cedric’s, um, shall we say, “excited” at the prospect of where the evening might be headed, so his happy dance seals his fate as the end of the evening comes too soon when he opens the beers. This commercial actually serves as a public service announcement: never, ever dance with a bottle in your hand.
The Budweiser Frogs (1995)
A sleepy little backwater swamp on a warm summer night, crickets chirping, fireflies flaring and frogs croaking. Slowly, unless your mind is playing tricks on you, the frog croaks are starting to sound familiar. “Bud.” “Weissssss.” “Errrrrr.” “Buuuuud.” “Weeeeiiiiissss.” “Er.” It’s advertising in the round and just like that, a cold, clear Bud is the easiest, most natural thing in the world. It’s easy to make a cute, cuddly animal commercial that folks will love, but a frog commercial?! In the peace and quiet of the swampy summer night, the slimy little critters come off witty and charming.
Coke and Pepsi Guys (1995)
Two cola truck drivers, one hauling a load of Coke and one a load of Pepsi, meet in a roadside diner – it has all the makings for a heartwarming truce. The two truckers share a love for the Youngbloods’ tune “Get Together,” which is playing on the jukebox, share photos of their kids, and then share sips of each other’s drinks. The Pepsi guy looks sheepishly around to make sure nobody’s looking, sips his new buddy’s Coke and passes it back. The Coke driver samples the other guy’s Pepsi, but won’t give it back. Things get ugly from there. This ad was the perfect antidote to feel-good holiday schlock. Greed is funny.
Apple: 1984 (1984)
Many credit this 1984 commercial, launching the first Macintosh computer, with starting the Super Bowl ad craze. It featured some sort of javelin thrower breaking conformity (and a large television) in a world run by Big Brother. It got everyone talking, and twenty years later, some of them actually started switching to Macs.
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