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Does it surprise anybody that there are people out there who watch the Super Bowl purely for the commercials? Hell, did you know you can even bet on Super Bowl commercials at the top offshore sportsbooks?
Anyways, knowing that the audience is uniquely tremendous, advertisers do their best to present their product in the most effective way they can.
Everybody wants to use their unique platform – and the amount of money they invest – to make their commercial the best one of all time. However, few have succeeded in making their commercials truly noteworthy.
So what is it that determines what makes a commercial truly great? A great ad should do two things.
35 Years Ago Today: Anheuser-Busch airs what is then the most costly Super Bowl commercial yet:
Bud Bowl I.
With an all-in cost of $5M, A-B broadcast a game between Bud & Bud Light during the commercial breaks of Super Bowl XXIII.
Bob Costas on the call… pic.twitter.com/9AKIcZ0mOU
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) January 22, 2024
One, it should do what a commercial is supposed to do, which is to sell a specific product, to make people want to buy the product.
The second thing is directly related to the first. A great commercial should namely be memorable in some way. Ideally, it should entertain while being informative.
Noteworthy Commercials That Don’t Make The Cut
Before we consider the top five commercials of all time, let’s consider the ones that didn’t work.
Apple’s “1984” Commercial (1984)
This is a cool commercial. It features a villain talking on a big screen, promoting the conformity of thought.
Someone comes and then smashes the screen to represent the concept of empowerment.
Apple is selling its Macintosh personal computer, casting it as a means to empower the individual thought of consumers.
While this is an effective commercial, it does not make the top five, because it just seems ironic now because authority figures are able to exploit use our access to computers to create conformity of thought.
A top-five commercial is one that will stand the test of time.
Budweiser’s Frogs Commercial (1995)
This commercial involves three frogs. One ribbits “Bud,” the other “Weis,” and the other “er.” As the commercial progresses, they come closer to piercing the three components of “Budweiser” together, so that it sounds like they are saying “Budweiser.”
This is an effective commercial in that it’s catchy. People will have Budweiser stuck in their heads.
But it’s not top-five material because the concept is too boring and simplistic. I refuse to put a trio of frogs in the top five.
Budweiser’s “Wassup!” Commercial (2000)
This commercial is noteworthy because it is still so famous and recognizable. So we see the same marketing concept as the 1996 commercial: Budweiser wants to make its audience remember its name.
But why should I want to drink Budweiser because a bunch of guys are saying “Wassup!”?
This is an annoying commercial. It is overdone and tiresome to listen to. By the end of it, I am ready to move on.
While its memorability makes it effective, its lack of entertainment value removes it from top-five consideration.
Reebok’s Terry Tate Commercial (2003)
This is a good example of a funny commercial that does not deserve top-five consideration.
It is hilarious, involving a football player tackles company workers who lack productivity.
But I leave the commercial not even knowing what I’m supposed to want to buy. I wouldn’t mind hiring Terry, though, if I were a boss.
We see how a lot of commercials get some things right and some things wrong.
Some are entertaining but aren’t good commercials because they don’t make the audience want to buy their product. Others are informative but don’t stand the test of time.
The top commercials should piece everything together, and we will see how, in contrast to the commercials that don’t make the cut, these top five commercials do that.
5. Bubly’s Buble Sketch (2019)
This is a funny commercial where Michael Buble takes issue with the pronunciation of Bubly.
The whole back-and-forth about how the drink name should be pronounced is funny while, at the same time, forcing people to remember the name Bubly.
It does make clear to the viewer why people should want to buy this product, but it’s only number five because the pronunciation skit does not have anything to do with the reasons why people should want to drink Bubly.
4. EDS’s Cat-Herding Commercial (2000)
To really appreciate this commercial, you have to understand that a company like EDS has the deck stacked against it, in terms of its ability to create a great commercial. This is not something cool like a beer.
In the commercial, men are herding cats to express the idea that this company “brings together information, ideas, and technology, and makes them go where you want.”
It’s a great commercial because it takes a cool, cute, and interesting concept – men herding cats – and shows that the company does a difficult thing in an effective way.
3. Snickers’ Betty White Commercial (2010)
In this commercial, we get treated to a hilarious sight: Betty White trying to play football and doing a horrible job of it.
It turns out that this old lady is actually a hungry man. When he eats a Snickers bar, he is no longer hungry, so he can be himself again.
We see what Snickers does for its consumers in a very funny way.
2. Alexa Lost Her Voice (2018)
This commercial plays out a very creative, hilarious concept where Alexa, somehow, has lost her voice.
We see different celebrities try to answer in her place, but they fail in a hilarious way. It’s a very well-written script.
We really appreciate here how good Alexa is at what she does. The commercial makes us feel that Alexa is someone we should be grateful to have.
1. Google Search Commercial (2010)
A commercial manages to be touching. It tells an emotionally powerful story through the use of image.
This ad tells a love story using Google’s search bar – they find places, even places that they can’t spell correctly, and otherwise search for things that improve their lives on a personal level.
The commercial clearly demonstrates the effectivity of its product while managing somehow to be profound.