Watching Super Bowl announcement has become a pop-culture ritual. But the ads are not aloof actuality scrutinized by about 90 amateur TV viewers.
For 20 years, they've additionally arise beneath the accumulative canteen of USA TODAY'S Super Bowl Ad Meter, an exclusive, real-time customer appraisement of all the game's ads. Focus groups in assorted cities use handheld accessories to annals their second-by-second reactions to the commercials. It's been absolutely a ride.
Who can balloon the beer-pitching Bud Bowl ads of the backward 1980s? And celebrity-laden Pepsi (PEP) spots of the 1990s? And the absurd dot-com commercials that abounding the 2000 game?
Through the angle of Ad Meter, USA TODAY is spotlighting on the abutting folio 20 of the aerial points, low credibility and axis credibility in Super Bowl ads over these two decades.
Each year, Super Bowl ads mirror American culture. Best years, they aim no college than a apparent reflection. But, already in a while, they action a blink at article deeper.
All in 30 seconds.
This Sunday, 37 advertisers, who paid an boilerplate $2.7 amateur per 30 seconds, will air about 55 ads aimed at acceptable Super Bowl ad immortality. Odds are none will get there.
"Everyone we assignment with says, 'Do the abutting '1984'," says ad authority Jeff Goodby, a advertence to Apple's (AAPL) acclaimed Super Bowl atom of the woman who shatters Big Brother's image. "But that's easier said than done."
That won't stop association such as Goodby, whose bureau is a Super Bowl ad veteran, from trying. He knows the appulse of Ad Meter intimately. It has affected abounding advertisers to assignment overtime aggravating to win the top award-winning — and the acclamation that comes with it. But, in the process, he alone half-jokes, "It has bankrupt the Christmas vacations of announcement and assembly bodies worldwide."
Alex Bogusky, co-chairman of Crispin Porter + Bogusky, tries to abstain that. Because there is alone one Ad Meter winner, it makes "losers" out of best Super Bowl advertisers. "I admonition audience adjoin accomplishing Super Bowl advertising."
In Ad Meter's history, there've been best years, abounding of highs and lows, and others best forgotten. Here are 20 enduring Super Bowl ad moments:
1. "You-per" Bowl (2007)
Madison Avenue's bigger advertise became Main Street's newest stomping arena aftermost year aback a few cutting-edge marketers got absolute bodies — not ad agencies — to actualize memorable ads.
Tops amid them: Doritos' consumer-generated ad claiming champ in which a chip-eating disciplinarian crashes his car while boring a Doritos-munching woman. The ad fabricated the top bristles in Ad Meter alongside four pro ads from Anheuser-Busch (BUD).
Many Super Bowl ads amount upwards of $1 amateur to film. This one amount $12, for four accoutrements of Doritos. That's chaw for the crunch.
2. Now you see me (2007)
Last year's Super Bowl will be best-remembered by some as the year that two ads bound were accomplished to the bartering graveyard by special-interest groups.
A Snickers ad featured two car mechanics who pulled out chest beard to advance their adventuresomeness afterwards administration a Snickers bar led to an adventitious smooch. Gay-advocacy groups fabricated the ad abandon the abutting day.
A General Motors (GM) ad with a apprentice fantasizing about suicide while absent of accident its assembly-line job got the boost afterwards a suicide-prevention accumulation balked.
3. Too bound for abundance (2005)
How bound can a model's strappy top be afore arrangement censors squirm? That's a catechism for which GoDaddy.com's aboriginal Super Bowl ad got chargeless PR galore.
In the ad, Go Daddy's ample spokesmodel wiggles and giggles afore a faux censorship committee. Aback an overstretched band snaps, one aged board affiliate needs oxygen. The Fox arrangement got so abounding affronted calls afterwards it aired the atom that it shelved affairs to run it afresh afterwards in the game.
Even then, the ad was a dud with consumers appraisement it for Ad Meter: They relegated it to the basal bristles of all the game's ads.
But the ad got gazillions to go online to see it again. And again.
4. Tasteless Bowl (2004)
It wasn't aloof Janet Jackson's abominable "wardrobe malfunction" that torpedoed acceptable aftertaste that year. Some ads helped, decidedly two for Bud Light.
In one, a adventurous sleigh ride goes south afterwards the horse passes atomic gas. In another, a guy surrenders his Bud Light alone afterwards a dog bites his crotch.
Not that Ad Meter's consumers took offense. They rated the bend bartering best of the game.
"We achievement the amusement didn't affront anybody," Anheuser-Busch CEO August Busch IV said afterwards the game. At an ad appointment later, he said acceptable aftertaste would be a archetype for A-B ads, not aloof for its beer.
5. Clydesdales bow to 9/11 (2002)
Anheuser-Busch is mostly acclaimed for its Super Bowl commercials that accomplish admirers laugh. This one, however, fabricated abounding cry.
Airing beneath than bristles months afterwards the Sept. 11 agitator attacks, it addled a civic chord. The Budweiser Clydesdales cull the beer wagon beyond the country afore advancing to a stop with a appearance of the Apple Trade Center site. The advance horse bows in account to the 9/11 victims, and the aggregation follows.
"That affected a assumption in this country," says Linda Kaplan Thaler, admired as one of Madison Avenue's top ad chiefs. "During a claiming that pits one aggregation adjoin another, this ad showed that, ultimately, we're all on the aforementioned team." But the bow may accept been too subtle. Some Ad Meter panelists didn't get it and ranked the ad aloof alfresco the top 10. But it still tugs the affection today, and A-B can booty a bow for this one.
6 Dot-com Bowl (2000)
At the acme of the Internet bubble, a dozen dot-coms spent added than $40 amateur on Super Bowl ads to get noticed.
The adamantine allotment now is canonizing abounding of the ads, except two:
Pets.com's singing Sock Puppet crooned If You Leave Me Now. The ad bankrupt into Ad Meter's top five. And E-Trade's (ETFC) monkey clapped forth with two men in an ad that ends with the message: "We aloof ashen 2 amateur bucks. What are you accomplishing with your money?"
Not a absolute waste, however: The ad ranked aloof alfresco of Ad Meter's top 10, and the aggregation is one of the few of those dot-coms still in business.
7. Superman walks (2000)
Sometimes appropriate furnishings accomplish an ad memorable, like it or not. Such was the case with the awesome angel of bedridden amateur Christopher Reeve walking in this bartering for Nuveen.
In the spot, Reeve gets an acclaim as he leaves his wheelchair to present an accolade for analgesic abrasion research. The ad took criticism because it was fakery: The backward amateur never absolved afterwards he was paralyzed.
Reeve walks: Nuveen ad acclimated agenda magic.
Because the ad got so abundant pregame PR, the angel did not abruptness Ad Meter panelists, and it accomplished in the average of the pack. Afterwards this, abounding advertisers kept their acme abstruse until adventurous day.
8. Ego Bowl (2000)
Phil Sokolof is hardly a domiciliary name. But the retired animate industry millionaire, who had his aboriginal affection advance at age 43, wrote, starred in and bought $2 amateur in ad time for his cautionary bloom ad.
In the ad, Sokolof, who died of affection abortion in 2004, waxed unpoetically on the use of cholesterol-producing drugs to anticipate affection disease.
The ad bombed: next-to-last on Ad Meter. "I can't say I'm appreciative of that," he afterwards conceded to USA TODAY. "It was a downer."
9. Sexy appearance appearance (1999)
Victoria's Abstruse was amid the aboriginal to use a Super Bowl atom as a adored advance to allurement admirers to its website.
The ad featured lingerie-clad models casting an online appearance show. While Ad Meter men admired the ad, women mostly hated it. Perhaps that's why the ad accomplished in the average of the pack.
But it worked. The live, 17-minute online appearance appearance afterwards that anniversary admiring then-record Web traffic, and the armpit crashed. The banker is in the adventurous this year for the aboriginal time aback then, with supermodel Adriana Lima casting Valentine's Day sales.
10. Aback I abound up (1999)
A Super Bowl ad abounding of bright-eyed, optimistic kids would abruptness no one.
Which is absolutely why job armpit Monster.com's(MNST) apish black-and-white ad showed beautiful kids attractive advanced to career doom. One says: "I appetite to be affected into aboriginal retirement." Another: "I appetite to barb my way up to average management."
Goodby, whose bureau was called Bureau of the Year by Announcement Age and Adweek, calls this the best Super Bowl atom of the accomplished 20 years. But Ad Meter panelists ranked it appropriate in the middle. So abundant for adept angst.
11. Exploding mosquito (1999)
Why does a bathed guy, cloudburst Tabasco booze assimilate his pizza, aloof sit on his balustrade and watch a mosquito chaw his leg?
The chaw line: Afterwards bitter the Tabasco eater, the mosquito explodes in midair.
This hot, hot, hot ad for McIlhenny Tabasco fabricated Ad Meter's top five, the alone alien that year to claiming a Pepsi/Anheuser-Busch ad juggernaut.
12. Cindy's Bowl (1997)
It's attenuate that a celebrity appears in two ads in one Super Bowl, but Cindy Crawford did in this one.
In a Pepsi spot, she and adolescent supermodel Tyra Banks draft kisses at a bairn who winks and assault aback a smooch. Then, in a Cadillac Catera spot, Crawford plays a angel with a coast neckline. It was afterwards pulled by General Motors afterwards complaints about its assuming of women.
Crawford did not arise afresh in a Super Bowl ad until 2005. That Diet Pepsi ad, area she checks out a hot guy, was a huge hit online afterward. Say this three times fast: Cindy absolutely sells soda.
13. Clydesdales comedy brawl (1996)
What if horses played football? Budweiser showed aloof that in this archetypal atom pitting two teams of Clydesdales. As two cowboys watch, one horse alike bliss a acreage goal.
The ad rated in Ad Meter's top five, and Bud adapted it for the 2004 Super Bowl with a apology of the NFL's video analysis action — with a absolute adjudicator blockage the burning epitomize while the horses wait.
14. Appropriate Furnishings Bowl (1995)
Great Super Bowl ads crave abundant ideas, and sometimes abundant appropriate effects. Two had both in this game.
In a Pepsi spot, the Ad Meter winner, a boy at the bank sucks himself into a Pepsi bottle.
And blame off in this adventurous were the acclaimed Budweiser frogs: "Bud," "Weis" and "Er." In the swamp, the three croak their names to anatomy "Budweiser."
They becoming a continued alternation of ads. And that led to lizards. Which led to, well, Cedric the Entertainer.
15. Hopper's Rant (1995)
This may be the Super Bowl's oddest ad. For one, it was 90 seconds. For another, it starred Dennis Hopper, in an odd bow to Gen. George Patton, as an bedeviled football fan.
Hopper rants about his adulation for football, at one point apropos to football as the "ballet of bulldozers."
Some critics answerable that the ad poked fun at the mentally ill. Years later, Hopper said he regretted the campaign. "It was a career move — backwards."
16. Bud Bowl Finale (1995)
Anheuser-Busch's Bud Bowls were Super Bowl staples from the aboriginal one in 1989 that featured activated Bud Light and Budweiser bottles adverse off on the gridiron.
Over the years, the blueprint got added complex. But the action kept advancing up shorter, catastrophe with this one in which Bud Light "spokescharacters" Iggy, Frank and Biff, watch the adventurous from a arid island.
A active antic during Super Bowl blowouts was that the Bud Bowl was bigger than the game. For arduous endurance, account one for A-B.
17. Nothing but net (1993)
McDonald's (MCD) commutual Michael Jordan and Larry Bird for a Super Bowl atom that charcoal an All-Star. With a Big Mac on the line, Jordan and Bird bout shots in an acute adaptation of arena H-O-R-S-E.
What makes the ad sing isn't aloof the crazy shots anniversary nails, but the stars' banana timing: Jordan's gee-whiz smirks and Bird's aw-shucks shrugs.
The atom was a slam-dunk Ad Meter winner.
18. Subaru's accident (1993)
Subaru not alone aired Ad Meter's last-place ad this year, it aired bristles of the basal seven in the panelists' rating. No advertiser has akin that feat.
The ads were for its all-new Impreza and were aloof 15 abnormal each. In a bid to allure women, they were anecdotal by an concealed Kirstie Alley.
The botheration wasn't Alley or the agreeable — it was the angle you could get a articular Super Bowl bulletin beyond in a agglomeration of 15-second complete bites. Call it Subaru's 15 abnormal of shame.
19. McDonald's adventurous move (1991)
The alternation bankrupt new arena by acclamation the affair of Down affection on the Super stage.
McDonald's alien the apple to Mike Sewell, who has the condition. Mike, in turn, introduces admirers to his ancestors and friends.
The ad accomplished additional in Ad Meter and becoming McDonald's a access of absolute PR. Bravo, Ronald!
20. Coke goes 3-D (1989)
The accretion was big. Coca-Cola (KO) broadcast 20 amateur agenda 3-D glasses so association could watch its Diet Coke ad in 3-D. The ad, about a delinquent Diet Coke machine, accomplished a commendable fifth in Ad Meter. It additionally was baffled by two spots for Pepsi.
Still, Coke garnered circuit abounding for the 3-D gimmick. Word of a run on 3-D glasses kept Coke in the account for weeks afore the game. But best admirers concluded up watching the overhyped ad, and accompanying halftime show, after the appropriate specs. Afterwards that, 3-D got the Super Bowl boot.