The Top Ten Super Bowl Commercials of All Time
Yes, it’s a big game for the New York Football Giants and the New England Patriots but it’s just as big a game for advertisers and their brands. The cost ($3.5mm for :30) the stage (50MM households watching) and the post game effects (everyones a critic and with social media …). It’s enough to make you happy with a fractional print ad in the back of Reader’s Digest (is that still around?). Probably one of the best ways to “judge” effective advertising on Super Sunday is to take a walk down memory lane and identify some of the greats from years past. Now mind you I realise better than anyone that advertising is subjective.
What moves some (hopefully to consideration or purchase) doesn’t necessarily others, which is fine and what makes great advertising much more difficult to create. That being said, it will help if we follow some key criteria here. We (nor the brands) are not in it just for a laugh or shock value but rather to hopefully create an immediate and lasting impression that somehow benefits the brand product or service in both the short and perhaps even long term. So acute awareness of a new product or brand extension’s benefit, reinforcing precious brand equity for an established brand or even a combination of the two. There needs to be an emotional connection made during those :30, :60 or god help us :15 seconds that makes us respect, feel good about and desire that brand. So enough of the brand speak, lets review what I think are top 10 of all time.
Number 10. Pepsi Can – Pepsico
I remember this clear as day and not because it featured Cindy Crawford 20 years ago, but rather because the spot with it’s bait and switch forever burned the new Pepsi can into our minds. I may have even tried a Pepsi the next day.
Number 9. ”Shot Lock” – Master Lock
“On December 5th, 1973 in California, at a rifle range outside Los Angeles, a high powered 30 caliber rifle…” Well I don’t want to ruin it for you if you don’t know the spot, but suffice to say they shoot the lock at 40 yards and despite taking a direct (big hole in middle of padlock) hit the lock does not open “Repeat, did not open.” It was a very simple demo but one that left a lasting impression and was forever linked to Master Lock. There simply was no other lock to buy once you saw it.
Number 8. “The Force” – Volkswagen Passat
So I doubt this needs much explanation if you have lived on planet earth or beyond. The :60 spot created quite a buzz last year and rightfully so with a story that related to the whole family – moms, dad’s, kids, baby’s and dogs alike. So if it was so brilliant then why such a low(er) ranking? Well there’s more to come but there was a slight flaw in that the product was not revealed until the very, very end (I sound like a Client) which can be tricky in the automotive category, and more importantly there was no distinct product benefit save for a remote engine ignition. So could have Audi (yes, it’s the parent company) or Toyota or Honda done this? Yes, but somehow it just fits with the Volkswagen brand personality and as a result it did create buzz for a new model. Plus, 8 of all time ain’t that bad. Watch it again, it never gets old which is gold.
Number 7. “Betty White” – Snickers
So the question is did this spot do more for Betty White or Snickers? Well both. While this spot is wildly entertaining and memorable (yes great brand linkage with product demo) what makes it super is the sound execution of the product benefit. Eating a Snickers not just picks you up but brings you back to being yourself. As a result it “Satisfies,” not just in the physical and emotional rejuvenation it provides but doing so in such an enjoyable fashion – that great snickers taste of chocolate, caramel and nuts. Betty White as the executional device is so unexpected, at first shocking but then all in good fun especially when she talks smack. I can’t decide whether to laugh or go get a Snickers, maybe both.
Number 6. “Frogs” – Budweiser
Remarkably simple but remarkably effective, this 1995 spot launched a campaign that ran for almost 10 years. Sure there was no product attribute or taste benefit touted, just good old fashioned brand reinforcement for “America’s” beer brand that was under constant competitive fire for market share. People were walking around reciting the frogs – repeating the brand name over and over. The frogs and their character offspring (Louie and Frankie the lizards and a ferret hit man) became national celebrities and made sure that Budweiser was always top of mind with consumers.
Well folks that’s it for now. Feel free to weigh in, remember advertising is subjective at the end or beginning of the day. We’ll be back with the final 5 later in the week and maybe some predictions for the big day.