Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Page 2 [Print without images]

Tuesday, January 29, 2002
Updated: August 10, 1:52 PM ET
Readers' list: Best Super Bowl ads

From the Page 2 mailbag

People just can't wait. The tension is incredible. We're talking about the anticipation of Super Bowl commercials, of course.

OUR TOP 10
Here's how Page 2 editors ranked the top 10 Super Bowl commercials of all-time:

1. Apple: "1984" (1984)
2. Budweiser: "Frogs" (1995)
3. Pepsi: "Apartment 10G" (1987)
4. Xerox: "Monks" (1977)
5. McDonald's: "Showdown" (1993)
6. Pepsi: "Diner" (1995)
7. Monster.com: "When I Grow Up" (1999)
8. Budweiser: "Cedric" (2001)
9. Electronic Data Systems: "Herding Cats" (2000)
10. Master Lock: "Marksman" (1974)


Honorable mention: Budweiser: "Dalmatians" (1999); Nike: "Hare Jordan" (1992); Budweiser: "Clydesdales Play Ball" (1996); Pepsi: "Dancing Bears" (1997); Pepsi: "Sucked In" (1995); Budweiser: "Rex's Bad Day" (2000); Pepsi: "Security Camera" (1996); Mountain Dew: "Bohemian Rhapsody" (2000)

Earlier this week, Page 2 offered our list of the 10 commercials introduced during a Super Bowl, and we invited your opinions.

After receiving more than 700 letters of nominations, we've listed our readers' top 10 below. Be sure to vote in the poll at right to crown the No. 1 Super Bowl commercial of all-time.


1. E*trade: "Monkey" (2000) (76 letters)
Two old men sit in a garage clapping offbeat to La Cucaracha while a monkey in an E*trade shirt dances on top of a garbage can. 25 seconds later the commercial delivers the punchline, "We just wasted two million dollars. What are you doing with your money?"

The real punchline? A year later that monkey still had a job. Most of the dotcommers didn't.

2. Budweiser: "Bud Bowl" (1989) (53 letters)
The first of annual matchups featuring animated Budweiser bottles vs. arch-rival Bud Light. Resplendent in helmets and fond of trick plays, the game continued during a series of commercials throughout the Super Bowl broadcast.

Bud Bowl guaranteed at least one competitive game every year, unlike the Super Bowl. That is, until the Bud Dry and Bud Ice expansion, ahem, watered down the league.

Danny DeVito
A Danny DeVito figure holds a can of Brisk in a commerical to be broadcast during Sunday's Super Bowl.
3. Budweiser: "Frogs" (1995) (46 letters)
A sleepy little backwater swamp on a warm summer night, crickets chirping, fireflies flaring and frogs croaking. Slowly, unless your mind is playing tricks on you, the frog croaks are starting to sound familiar. "Bud." "Weissssss." "Errrrrr." "Buuuuud." "Weeeeiiiiissss." "Er." It's advertising in the round and just like that, a cold, clear Bud is the easiest, most natural thing in the world.

It's easy to make a cute, cuddly animal commercial that folks will love, but a frog commercial?! In the peace and quiet of the swampy summer night, the slimy little critters come off witty and charming.

4. Apple: "1984" (1984) (32 letters)
The first Macintosh was introduced in this 60-second Orwellian spot done by "Blade Runner" director Ridley Scott. An auditorium full of spiritless drones watches as "Big Brother" (IBM) prattles on about the anniversary of the "Information Purification Directives" on a gigantic television screen. Suddenly, from the back of the hall, a blonde woman in shorts and a headband comes running toward the screen, hurls a slow-motion sledgehammer (the new Mac) and shatters it. "On Jan. 24, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh," the voice over says. "And you'll see why 1984 won't be like "1984."

Even now, it's amazing to look at, and has the added bonus of -- get this -- actually having something important to say about the product being plugged.

5. Electronic Data Systems: "Herding Cats" (2000) (30 letters)
Britney Spears
Britney Spears dresses as a hippie for Pepsi in an upcoming Super Bowl ad.
Rough and tumble cowboys tell stories of riding herd on the plains. They don't herd cattle, though, they herd cats, hundreds and hundreds of them. They drive the furballs across streams, rescue them from trees, and rein them in when they stampede. One catpoke rolls a ball of yarn, another shows off his scratches, a third takes a lint brush to his coat. A voiceover at the end says that managing data in the everchanging world of information technology is like trying to herd cats. EDS claims they're experienced wranglers.

Great use of computer imaging, fun spoof of Marlboro Man-style macho. The ad everybody talked about the next day.

6. Nissan Maxima: "Pigeons" (1997) (27 letters)
Three pigeons spot a shiny new Maxima pulling out of a carwash and immediately set off to drop their own store of "bombs" on the car, "Top Gun"-style. The first two pigeons miss their mark, so the flight leader -- voiced by "Cheers" star John Ratzenberger -- swoops down on the Maxima only to collide head on with the closing garage door.

Admit it, Cliff Claven's pack of pigeons made it a little easier to deal with the spots on your car after the Super Bowl.

7. Monster.com: "When I Grow Up" (1999) (23 letters)
Fresh-faced kids look directly into the camera and share their dreams for the future. You're expecting "fireman" and "doctor" and "astronaut," but instead they say, "When I grow up, I want to be a brown nose," and "When I grow up, I want to be in middle management." The ad's a perfect fit for both late-century American ennui and rampant optimism about the Internet. Ah, those were the days.

Horrifying and hilarious at the same time. The kids look smart and ironic while the rest of us come off like dopes.

Quiznos
A test subject lies unconscious after being struck by a dart in this Quiznos ad scheduled to air Sunday.
8. Pepsi: "Security Camera" (1996) (18 letters)
A security camera captures a Coke delivery man trying to sneak a Pepsi from the vending machine as the Hank Williams standard "Your Cheating Heart" blares in the background. He stealthly removes one can, only to have the rest come crashing down.

Another in the series of Coke/Pepsi rivalry commercials, the sheepish delivery guy made it great, but Hank's song made it classic.

9. McDonald's: "Showdown" (1993) (16 letters)
MJ and Larry Legend go head-to-head in a game of "Horse." The winner gets a Big Mac. Each shot is more spectacular and improbable than the one before. "Off the floor, off the scoreboard, off the backboard, no rim," Bird says, and then does. "Over the second rafter, off the floor, nothing but net," Jordan counters -- it's good. The ad ends with the two of them sitting on top of the Hancock Building and Jordan sinking one "off the expressway, over the river, off the billboard, through the window, off the wall, nothin' but net."

The off-the-scoreboard, off-the-expressway shots are amusing, but the ad works because, given that we're talking about Michael and Larry, they're almost believable.

10. Budweiser: "Cedric" (2001) (14 letters)
Cedric the Entertainer is romancing a very hot date. When it's time to cool off just a little, he eases into the kitchen to grab two bottles of Bud Light from the fridge. Cedric's, um, shall we say, "excited" at the prospect of where the evening might be headed, so he does a little happy dance in the kitchen, accidentally shaking up the bottles in the process. The end of the evening comes too soon when he opens the bottles and the shaken beer explodes all over his date.

This one is actually a public service announcement: Never, ever dance with a bottle in your hand.