Give America a huge event to celebrate and America will give you… advertising. That’s right, in the land of “Giant” President’s Day sales and “Crazy” Veteran’s Day blowouts, there’s no way a little something called the Super Bowl could exist for long without making commercials an integral part of the experience.
We’re at the point now where we often anticipate the ads just as much as the game itself. In fact, forget the game - we even run betting pools on who will show the first ad or how much an ad cost. Considering that the big game itself has historically been a blowout, perhaps it’s no wonder that the commercials have taken on such importance. Or maybe it’s just more fun to watch a bunch of beer-swilling clowns, talking animals, forgotten celebrities and Danica Patrick shill product than it is to see actual football.
Whatever the reasons, everybody remembers the best Superbowl commercials. But do you remember the worst? TheRichest has got 15 of them below that will make you wince, scratch your head ("What were they thinking?") and maybe even throw up in your mouth a little bit.
15 Chevy - “Apocalypse”
OK, the inclusion of Twinkies in this one almost makes it a “so bad it’s good” kind of ad. But… When will these companies learn no one wants to hear about death, disease and destruction during the Super Bowl? It’s a party, not the Book of Revelations! Sorry, Chevy, this one was just a little bit too intense for its own good. Especially the rain of frogs landing on the truck hoods at the end - gross!
14 Holiday Inn - “Bob Johnson”
So, Holiday Inn, you wanted to show how current and hip you had become. You wanted to push your brand in an edgy new direction and get the terminally hip back into your hotel rooms. What better way to do that than to have the character of “Bob Johnson” wade right into this cross-dressing/transgendered spot? What was going on in the minds of HGI execs? ‘Cause whoever thought America was ready for this one was just a little bit mistaken. In fact, almost 20 years later, America probably still isn’t ready for this one.
13 Groupon - “Tibet”
First of all, just because Timothy Hutton was in the midst of a mini career renaissance (trust us, Leverage was better than anything he did in the years preceding it), doesn’t mean he’s a guy you necessarily trust to sell you stuff. Especially when he’s trying to sell you on the fish curry in Tibet. As uninspiring as Hutton may have been, the real kicker was Groupon’s attempt to “curry” favor by parodying various relief-organizations' commercials. We were not amused.
12 Dirt Devil - “Fred Astaire”
In a world where Natalie Cole became more famous for dueting with her long dead father than she ever did for her own singing career, perhaps it’s no surprise that Dirt Devil would get into the nostalgia game with this creepy spot. Featuring footage of Fred Astaire dancing with, yep, you guessed it, a Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner, the ad made everyone feel just a little uncomfortable about the whole premise. Add in the fact that a long-dead Fred Astaire with a freakin’ machine for a partner was still a way better dancer than we will ever be and this spot was an instant fail.
11 SoBe - “Football & Lizards”
If you want your brain to hurt, this is the Super Bowl commercial to watch. Warning: it can’t be un-watched. We don’t know what the hell SoBe is trying to say about their product here and, honestly, after watching this ad, we don’t care. We just want to sit quietly in a very dark room for a very long time. Make it stop, SoBe, please make it stop.
10 Sales Genie - “Pandas”
If you don’t cringe at this one you must have been born in the 19th century. Just like the people who made this ad, apparently. What better way to show how awesome your company is than to show a bunch of animated “Chinese” pandas running a bamboo store. Then give them the most repulsively stereotypical accents ever. Don’t forget to have them call their bamboo store “Ling Ling’s.” After that, all you’ll have to do is sit back and listen to the complaints roll in. Idiots.
9 Go Daddy - “All of Them”
Alright, alright, Go Daddy, we get it. Danica Patrick is hot. And sex sells. But maybe just maybe you should have tried creating a storyline for any of your hundreds of Super Bowl commercials over the years. Just one is all we ask for. No, you say? OK, OK, we get it. You’re right. Sex sells. But what - we’re still asking after all these years - are you selling, Godaddy? Maybe let us know someday. In a memo, though, not a commercial.
8 Budweiser “Clown”
You knew that, sooner or later, one of the big beer companies would make this list. It’s just a fact - beer ads and the Super Bowl probably have the most symbiotic relationship in all of nature. One simply cannot exist without the other. So why, you ask, this particular Bud spot? Well, because, if you’re going to spend millions of dollars on a stupid beer commercial, make sure you feature an annoying clown drinking Bud from where the sun don't shine. Everyone loves clowns and beer, right? Not.
7 Lifeminder.com - “Bad Ad”
Have you ever heard of Lifeminders.com? No? Not even after their historically bad Super Bowl commercial? Good. You’re lucky. Unfortunately now you have heard of them and you’ll probably be unable to resist watching that ad on Youtube. Have fun. It’s not like it’s the most irritating or offensive ad to ever run during the Big Game. But it is 30 seconds of your life you’ll never get back. You’ll be 30 seconds closer to death after seeing it and what will you have to show for it? Nothing. You’re welcome.
6 GM - “Robot”
If you thought the lifeminders.com ad was depressing (if for no other reason than what a waste of your time it was) then you’ll really enjoy this one. You see, most Super Bowl commercials, even the ones that fail, tend to be big, splashy, vibrant affairs. They celebrate life and, by extension, buying stuff to enjoy life. Not so with this GM spot. When you’re knee-deep in nachos and cheap beer, who wants to see a suicidal robot lose its job. The answer? Nobody. Thanks for ruining our buzz, GM.
5 Apple - “Lemmings”
Apple struck it big with their “1984” commercial. It’s no exaggeration to say that was the ad that put Apple on the map and also ushered in a new age of advertising where the concept behind the product mattered as much as the product itself. The ad will forever be considered a gold standard of the industry. But how about this follow-up commercial in 1985? Well, it’s not quite as bad as some of the others on this list. At least it’s got that going for it. But images of mass-death are never going to be a big seller on Super Bowl Sunday. Go figure.
4 H & M - “David Beckham”
It’s not that we don’t believe for a second that there isn’t a significant portion of the population that doesn’t want to see Becks naked. However, this commercial is so boring, so uninspired, so, yes, stupid, that it deserves a spot on this list. For this they spent all of that money to get a Super Bowl spot? What a waste of Beckham’s “talents” if nothing else.
3 Tax Act - “Peeing”
Yeah, we get it - free is good. Except, you know... when it’s not. And this one is definitely not good. No one wants to see potty humor (literally) during a party. At least they didn’t decide to set the commercial in a public pool. That would have been too, too much. It’s too much as it is already. Let the kid’s own family deal with this problem - leave the rest of us out of it.
2 Outpost.com - “Gerbils”
Yeah, we’ll remember your name alright, Outpost.com, you dirty gerbil-killing animals! Seriously, though, it’s the ad execs that came up with this spot who should be fired from a cannon. Of course we know that they didn’t really shoot those gerbils out of that cannon. But maybe, just maybe they should have thought about how wrong this ad would look once it was done. So very, very wrong.
1 Ameriquest - “Bumpy Flight”
This one must have seemed hilarious during late-night brainstorming sessions by the advertising geeks. After all, what’s not to like? It’s got slapstick (sort-of). It’s got mistaken identities (sort-of). It’s got awkward situations (that’s right- “sort-of”). It’s even got S-E-X. Unfortunately, what it doesn’t have is funny. Apparently funny was too heavy to bring on-board as a carry-on. Maybe Ameriquest should have checked this commercial at the gate as well.