Classic sitcom stars. Animals acting like people. Funky old folks. Tom Brady may be the star on the field during the Super Bowl, but these are the MVPs of Super Sunday’s other big bout: the combat zone of commercials. These classic spots, ranked in order of hilarity, have set the standard for Sunday’s big battle of the brands.
12. Doritos, “Gym Ninja” (2010)
Who knows why they are eating Doritos at the gym, or why this is filmed like a Brick commercial from the ’80s, but it all adds to the charm of this nonsense combining Doritos fanaticism with martial arts.
11. Pepsico, “Bob’s House” (2008)
Produced by Pepsi’s in-house diversity squad EnAble, this spot drops the kind of genuinely surprising joke that distinguishes the best Super Bowl spots, made extra special by its use of sign language. It stands out from the chaos of the Super Bowl by not making a sound.
10. Radio Shack, “The Phone Call” (2014)
What is a Radio Shack? Apparently the U.S. still calls The Source by its original name, but sweeping change is evidently in store as a who’s who of washed up ’80s icons storm the store to reclaim outdated tech from home phones to boomboxes. The variety of cameos—Cliff Clavin, ALF, Mary Lou Retton, the California Raisins, Teen Wolf, Slimer, Kid anddd Play—is a delight.
9. NFL, “Best Fans Ever” (2011)
The scope of the classic TV characters featured in this ad would make the good people of the TVLand network weep. Clips from Cheers, Seinfeld, Modern Family, Beverly Hills 90210, The Simpsons and The Golden Girls only scratch the surface of this all-star montage. Ostensibly celebrating NFL fans, the spot really proves that we love our TV families as if they’re our actual relatives. Peter Griffin steals the show, yes?
8. Diet Pepsi, “Apartment 10G” (1986)
Not necessarily funny for the reasons originally intended, Michael J. Fox’s Diet Pepsi commercial is so amazingly dated it’s like a real-life Back to the Future experience. You just don’t see electric guitars, scrolling narration and asymmetrical ponytails combined like this anymore.
7. Wendy’s, “Where’s The Beef?” (1984)
How did this become one of the most enduring lines in pop-culture history? Why did people work it into everyday conversation? How small was the beef at other burger joints? All good questions, but they pale in comparison to the big one: “Where’s the beef?,” delivered with legendary attitude by this crotchety gran.
6. E*Trade, “Ghost Town” (2001)
Does E*Trade spend its entire annual marketing budget on its reliably awesome Super Bowl commercials? This spot, which dropped in the wake of the dotcom crash, stars the winning combination of A) a chimpanzee and B) said chimpanzee riding a horse through the desolate wasteland of failed startups. His tears are our joy.
5. Reebok, “Terry Tate: Office Linebacker” (2008)
The combination of shocking tackles and Tate’s benign office quibbles (“BREAK WAS OVER 15 MINUTES AGO!”) is the perfect mix of on-the-nose office satire and gloriously dumb physical comedy.
4. Bud Light, “Slapfest” (2007)
Why be greedy? Dudes slapping each other is enough.
3. Career Builder, “Celebration” (2011)
With this many chimpanzees, how could you lose? A hapless office drone interrupts a rowdy party in the board room to deliver some much needed realness: sales aren’t soaring; the chimpanzees are looking at the graph upside-down. This ad confirms that, even in the digital age, a monkey smoking a cigar is still a score.
2. Snickers, “Playing Like Betty White” (2010)
The wildly popular ad, which shows a hungry football player “playing like Betty White,” gamely played by the icon herself, was the most popular ad of its year owing in no small part to the 93-year-old legend’s star turn.
1. Miller High Life, “The One-Second Commercials” (2009)
In a wink to overblown Super Bowl ad budgets, Miller High Life’s Delivery Guy (Windell Middlebrooks) rants that, at $3 million for a 30-second spot, every second costs $100,000. He then pitches a series of one-second ads, i.e., just shouting “HIGH LIFE!”