The Best of the Best Commercials


At $3.5 million for a 30-second spot, the Super Bowl is by far the most expensive and anticipated advertising venue.

The yearly football ritual provides advertisers the ability to target more than 100 million viewers who are glued to their TVs, watching every moment and and excited to see the ads they usually ignore during the regular season.

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This video grab provided by, shows the executive chimpanzee advertisement that will air during Super Bowl XLVI Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012. Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo says there's nothing funny about a commercial featuring suit-and-tie wearing chimpanzees scheduled to air Sunday during the Super Bowl. Dr. Steven Ross of the zoo says's commercial that shows the chimps outsmarting a human co-worker actually poses a risk to chimpanzees because people lose sight of the fact they're an endangered species and less likely to try to save them. (AP Photo/
“What sets the Super Bowl apart from other programs with tons of viewers like the American Idol finale and the Olympics, etc., is that the advertisements have become an anticipated part of the event,” said David Budge, an advertising major from Tokyo, in an email. “Furthermore, Super Bowl ads are watched again and again online, so the true reach of the ads far surpasses the initial 30 seconds of air time during the Super Bowl.”

The commercials themselves develop a following. They shift from 30 seconds of airtime to minutes and hours of post-game conversation.

“People love Super Bowl commercials because it is something to talk about after the game,” said Seth Lee, a BYU-Idaho broadcasting major from Federal Way, Wash. “To me, it’s for the same reason people like reality TV shows. There may not be a whole lot of substance to it, but people watch it because they know other people are watching it and it can be a potential topic of conversation later.”

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While the Super Bowl is known for its comedic ads, it’s not always the laughs that will crown a commercial into the advertising hall of fame, although usually the funnier the better.

According to Douglas McKinlay, an associate teaching professor in the Department of Communications, success is based on what he calls a “breakthrough ad.”

“It’s something that’s never been done before, something that’s never been seen,” McKinlay said. “It’s not an offshoot of something someone else has already done.”

These advertising breakthroughs have led to some of the most memorable commercials to date. Everyone may have their favorite ads, but there are a few commercials that appear on almost every major news company’s favorite picks.

The most common commercial on favorite lists is the 1984 Apple commercial that introduced the Macintosh. It was meant to allude to George Orwell’s novel “1984,” which is a story about a controlled, futuristic society. This commercial was an attack on computer supergiants such as IBM and Microsoft, representing them as an evil big brother.

The other commercials that appeared on favorite lists were humorous and innovative in their content.

Xerox’s “Monks” ad features a monk who is required to produce 500 copies of a manuscript. By using a new Xerox printer, he is able to copy the manuscripts so fast it is deemed a miracle.’s commercial, “When I grow Up,” reveals a group of children describing their desire to obtain mundane, underpaying jobs when they’re older. The company hoped to help people realize the option of finding better jobs through their website.

McDonald’s created a showdown between Michael Jordan and Larry Bird, who compete in a shooting contest over a Big Mac.

Budweiser’s top commercial involves three frogs alternatively croaking “Bud,” Weis,” and “Errr.” This ad paved the way for frog commercials in the future.

USA Today’s Ad Meter will have the official ruling when it comes to the commercial ratings this year, but it isn’t the paper itself that does the voting.

“The best Super Bowl commercials are not going to be picked by a committee, they are going to be picked by the public,” said McKinlay.

Facebook is partnering with USA Today, allowing users to cast their votes online and determine who will enter the Super Bowl Commercial Hall of Fame.

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