The other night, I noticed there was a TV special featuring what was dubbed as the 50 best Super Bowl commercials ever.  So I figured I would watch and then select my five favorite ads.  My criteria:

  1. I had to remember the ad beforehand.  If I did not remember it, it was out.  After all, it was not memorable.
  2. The ad had to support the brand.
  3. Was it breakthrough or really creative or clever without being stupid?
  4. It had to make me feel something or laugh.

Those were my criteria going in.  And after looking at the results, in all but one of the ads, I knew right away whose ad it was.  I did not have to wait until the end to find out.  So that was important too.  My top five (Incidentally, Budweiser’s “Brotherhood” ad from 2013 was voted the best ad ever):

5. E*Trade baby – 2008.  So many financial services companies create commercials featuring middle-aged to elderly people enjoying the benefits of investing with the advertising company.  E*Trade did the opposite, showing a baby.  Not only did this provide a stark contrast to the typical financial services ad, but it also brought home the point of how easy it is to use E*Trade.  And the upchuck (sorry Schwab) at the end was hysterical.

4. Bud Bowl – 1989.  This is the first Bud Bowl commercial.  You see the brand during the entire commercial, which is nice.  And at the time, it was very creative.  The Bud Bowl actually became a brand of its own.

3. Noxzema Joe Namath – 1973.  OK, I might get vilified for this one because it certainly is on the sleazy slide of the sleazy-suggestive line.  But if you remember how “hot” Joe Namath and Farrah Fawcett were then (I’m showing my age), you know the ad would have an impact.  And, if you were paying attention, you knew right away whose ad it was.

2. Coca Cola Mean Joe Greene – 1980.  Take the NFL’s most feared player and pair him with a little kid.  Add some brilliant dialogue and you get an unforgettable ad that still brings goose bumps.  And of course, the Coke bottle is omnipresent.  Thanks Mean Joe…and kid.

1. Apple 1984 – 1984.  I know this is a lot of people’s favorite.  But it is so iconic and so breakthrough.  Like many of the other ads in my top five, very creative with a very strong brand statement, even though in this case you had to wait until the end to find out whose ad it was.

Interestingly, my top four ads are all at least 27 years old.  Wonder what that means?  Maybe the agencies are trying too hard.

A few honorable mentions:

Career relaunch:  Snickers Betty White– 2010.  Just a fun, funny ad.  And just like Snickers can provide an energy boost, this commercial certain provided a boost to Betty White’s career.

Best Clydesdale ad:  Budweiser 2008.  I like the Clydesdale ads.  This is my favorite.  To the tune of Rocky, it tells how the last horse cut the year before trains and makes the Clydesdale team the next year.

Best “message” ad:  Always “Like a Girl” 2015.  Really strong message.