10. Master Lock — “Shot Lock” (1974)
One of the first high-profile Super Bowl ads featured little more than a bullet, a padlock and the following words: “On December 5th, 1973, at a rifle range outside of Los Angeles, a high-powered .30-caliber rifle was fired at a distance of 40 yards, to try to open this Master padlock. …” The results were definitely more entertaining than Super Bowl VIII (Miami 24, Minnesota 7).
Just when we were convinced that memorable advertisements are a thing of the past, Coca-Cola unveiled this gem near the end of last year’s Super Bowl. Parade balloon versions of Underdog and Stewie from “Family Guy” fight for an inflatable Coke bottle over the New York skyline, but are thwarted when a Charlie Brown balloon shows up and steals the drink.
8. Budweiser — “Sleigh Ride” (2004)
Borrowing heavily from a popular “Seinfeld” episode, a flatulent hansom cab horse turns a candle into a flamethrower and torches a guy’s date. (He escapes the danger because he reaches for a Bud Light.) We learned a valuable lesson after putting this on a “10 worst” list a couple of years ago: There are many, many Americans willing to go to war in defense of a good fart joke.
Most of the dot-com ads were terrible, but E*Trade had two classics in 2000. In this one, a man is rushed into an emergency room and is quickly diagnosed with “money coming out of the wazoo.” Several good one-liners followed. (“Does your husband have insurance?” … “Insurance? He’s got money coming out of the wazoo!”)6. McDonald's — “The Showdown” (1993)
Michael Jordan and Larry Bird, two of the most recognizable and popular athletes in the world, engage in an increasingly logic-defying shooting contest for a Big Mac. (“Over the second rafter, off the floor, nothing but net.”) The commercial ends with the players throwing a ball off the John Hancock Tower in Chicago.5. Budweiser — “Frogs” (1995)
With the Bud Bowl and its anthropomorphic bottles and cans becoming increasingly intolerable, Anheuser-Busch needed a new gimmick. The best idea advertisers could come up with: Three frogs sitting on a log and croaking the words “buuuud,” “wiiiise” and “errrr.” Americans predictably loved this ad, which included lizard and ferret-themed spin offs.4. Apple — “1984” (1984)
An Orwellian scene of lockstep fascism is broken up by a woman in red Dolphin shorts, who hurls a sledgehammer through a theater screen. Then we see this text: "On January 24th, Apple will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like '1984.'"
Workers at a fictitious corporation who breach office etiquette receive bone-crunching tackles from Terry Tate, a Reebok sneaker-wearing linebacker who barks observations like "Break was over 15 minutes ago, Mitch!"
The Budweiser Clydesdales, easily the most recognizable icon in Super Bowl ads, walk across a snowy field and the Brooklyn Bridge before taking one knee in front of the New York skyline where the World Trade Center towers used to be. Budweiser followed this theme three years later with its “Heroes” ad, featuring people at an airport applauding returning soldiers.1. Coke — “Mean Joe Greene” (1979)
Apple spent more money and the frogs were cuter, but there’s no beating Mean Joe Greene (even though this advertisement technically debuted just before the Super Bowl). Greene meets a kid in a stadium tunnel after the game. The kid offers Greene a Coke, and the player smiles and gives him a jersey. You’re crying just thinking about it, right?*