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Top 11 Super Bowl Ads of the 21st Century
By: Jeff Louis
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With the big game just days away, I'm getting a little antsy as I wait for the show to begin. Super Bowl XLIV, the showdown between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints, promises to be a good game, but many viewers, such as myself, tune in to watch advertising's creative talent go head-to-head.

While working with an agency in the Midwest, I was lucky. My agency teamed up with a cutting-edge research company and "wired people" to meters to gauge their responses to advertising. That's where my fascination with Super Bowl commercials began. 

it wasn't one thing that hooked me but a combination of elements. I was intrigued by the fact that clients could dump a million dollars in less than a minute, not including the production cost. Plus, the commercials were often more interesting than the game. Finally, there was the competitive aspect of the event; the top two teams in the NFL and the top creative minds competing in front of millions. 

Advertising sites, classes in advertising, and trade publications attribute the Super Bowl's popularity to one ad, Apple's "1984." The commercial seems to take top honors as the best Super Bowl ad ever.

 

 

I will concede it changed Super Bowl advertising, but if a commercial's purpose is to make a memorable impact to heighten awareness, Coca Cola's commercial featuring Mean Joe Greene is more memorable than any Apple commercial.  

 

 

Today, everyone is an expert on Super Bowl advertising, and best-of lists are in abundance. There are a couple of good sources to view for overall ratings, best commercial, and how each commercial fared. One of the most popular and visible ad meters comes from USA Today.

My one caveat, however, is that they seem skewed toward high-dollar spots produced by larger brands. Last year's highest-rated Doritos ad was an exception; production costs were under $2,000. 

In prior years, Anheuser-Busch won the top honors 10 years in a row. Then, Pepsi ranked in the top spot for five years straight, so while I do monitor their results, the USA Today Ad Meter isn't my favorite.

Ad Critic (Creativity) has a top 20 list that better defines memorable creative ads. John Star's list on the Bleacher Report, The Top 25 Super Bowl Ads of All Time is a worthwhile read. Even better is Star's Worst 10 Super Bowl Ads of All Time.

Adland is working on building a database where every single Super Bowl commercial will be available. They've included spots that ran regionally as well as both pre- and post-game commercials. I haven't had time to check it out, but reportedly, they completed 38 years of Super Bowl ads and are striving to complete the archive.

Finally, Spike always carries a listing of the commercials that aired, those that were banned,  etc.

Feeling a bit left out without my own list, I tried to remember my favorite Super Bowl ads from the past decade and came up with a list of my 11 favorites. Why 11? Because 10 is boring.

I didn't include 2009 because the Doritos spot, which everyone has seen, was my favorite. Otherwise, here's the basic criteria: the spots had to air nationally and run in-game. 

Without further yammering, my favorite 11 Super Bowl commercials from 2000-2008:

 

11.)  Snickers' "Kiss"

 

10.) Fed Ex's "Carrier Pigeons"

 

9.) Audi's "Old Luxury on Notice" 

 

8.) Outpost.com's "Gerbil Cannon" 

 

7.) Sprint's "Theft Deterrent"

 

6.) Michelob Ultra Amber's "Touch Football" 

 

5.) Ameriquest's "Don't Judge Too Quickly"

 

 

4.) E*Trade's "Monkey" 

  

3.) Budweiser's "Wassup"

 

2.) EDS' "Cat Herders" 

 

1.) Monster.com's "When I Grow Up" 

 

If you think that I've missed one of the "biggies" from the decade, let me know. Also, be sure to visit Talent Zoo and Beyond Madison Avenue for our coverage of Super Bowl XLIV's results and commentary.



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About the Author

Jeff Louis: Media Planner, Brand Project Manager, blogger, and aspiring writer. Please leave a comment or get in touch with Jeff on Twitter. As always, thank you for reading!

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