10 Super Bowl Ads That Overshadowed Their Products


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The big day's almost here. The one where we bring out the junk food, gather our friends in front of the TV, and watch the most exciting Sunday broadcast of the year: the Super Bowl commercials. Not everyone can be fans of one of the two teams playing each year, and the halftime shows lately haven't been worth waiting for, so the only tradition we still all have high hopes for are the ads. Even in mostly disappointing years ad-wise, there are a few buzzed-about commercials that really grab the public's attention. The only problem is that many of the products get completely overlooked in favor of discussing the content of the commercial. These 10 promos entertained and intrigued us, but didn't make us like their brand any more than we already did.

  1. Acura NSX "Transactions"

    In one of the ads released before this year's Super Bowl, Jerry Seinfeld does whatever it takes to get his hands on the first Acura NSX or, as you'll remember it, some new car. The commercial is great, with Seinfeld references, imagination, and classic Jerry humor, but the vehicle they're trying to sell is the most forgettable part of the whole spot. Seinfeld thinks of crazy and entertaining ways to try to win the favor of the guy who's in line to get the first … what was the name again? You've got the Soup Nazi, sock puppets, and even Jay Leno, but somehow the car still zips right out of your head.

  2. Budweiser "Wassup"

    There's no accounting for how popular this annoying 2000 Super Bowl ad became. You couldn't go anywhere for years without hearing someone loudly ask you, "Wassuuuuuuuup?" Besides the guys in the commercial holding Budweisers and mentioning a couple times that they're drinking a Bud, this ad could be for just about anything. And even though most of us remember that it's a Budweiser commercial (because no one does more talked-about Super Bowl spots than Anheiser-Busch), it definitely didn't make anyone more fond of the cheap beer.

  3. Reebok "Terry Tate: Office Linebacker"

    This memorable and hilarious concept came at us during the 2003 game, but it's hard to remember who was behind it. In the commercial, Terry Tate brings motivation and rules enforcement to the workplace by tackling anyone who doesn't abide by the office's regulations. He may be wearing a Reebok logo around his neck and on his jersey, but it's easy to ignore during all the hard-hitting action. It could've been advertising any sports brand or company, but we respect Reebok for teaching us that "If you kill the joe, you make some mo'."

  4. EDS "Cat Herders"

    Chances are you couldn't tell us what EDS stands for or what the company does. But if you saw this commercial during the Super Bowl in 2000, you at least remember their ridiculous ad campaign. EDS, or Electronic Data Systems, is apparently an HP company that specializes in "managing the complexities of the digital economy," which has nothing to do with the funny ad about a bunch of cowboys who herd cats. The rough riders show off their scratches, roll lint off their coats around the campfire, and fetch stray kitties from trees. And somehow EDS thought we'd remember they do something similar, only with technology. It's a fuzzy connection, but we appreciate the humor anyway.

  5. Ameriquest "Romantic Dinner"

    The situation Ameriquest portrays in this 2006 commercial is one that would be horrifying for everyone involved and has probably discouraged men everywhere to avoid cooking nice surprise meals for their ladies. A little misunderstanding has the woman thinking her boyfriend really hates her cat and had the Super Bowl audience laughing, but most of us probably couldn't remember what the commercial was advertising. Even the tagline seems like a bit of a stretch. Ameriquest, the mortgage company, says they won't judge you too quickly when you come in to use their services, but the connection wasn't strong enough to make us remember anything but a bloody cat.

  6. Nationwide "Rollin' VIP"

    Say what you will about Kevin Federline (seriously, go ahead. He deserves it), but the guy knows how to laugh at himself. During the 2007 Super Bowl, we all were rolling our eyes as K-Fed was rapping about rolling VIP, thinking some advertising firm had really missed the mark. But then we see that Federline is working as a lowly fry-boy at a fast-food joint and getting in trouble for his dreams of the high life. Nationwide must be referencing his quick fall from pop-culture grace when they use their "Life comes at you fast" catch phrase, but the tie-in's pretty weak. Even if you have a (former) celebrity that everyone's going to talk about, you have to make sure your brand is inseparable from the commercial. In this case, it wasn't.

  7. CareerBuilder "Office Monkeys"

    This 2005 promo used two of our favorite things: monkeys dressed as people and the idea that everyone you work with is a total idiot. OK, they were chimps, but the love for this ad still stands — there's a chimpanzee smoking a cigar, for goodness' sake! The one competent worker in the joint tries to show them that profits are way, way down, but the revelry continues because ignorance is bliss. This commercial was hailed as one of the best of 2005, but it didn't really give viewers the urge to jump on CareerBuilder.com, especially when more well-known sites like Monster.com had been in on the big-game ads for years.

  8. McDonald's "The Showdown"

    The star power and concept of this 1993 commercial could've worked in the favor of pretty much any company. Basketball legends Larry Bird and Michael Jordan (wearing a great example of '90s fashion) square off in a shooting contest over McDonald's Big Mac, but it might as well have been the worst burger in the world since they never actually get around to eating it. Even with high-quality players promoting their restaurant, the quality of the food itself didn't rise to the occasion and no one besides star-struck kids were fooled by two grown, wealthy men saying they eat Big Macs.

  9. eTrade "eTrade Baby"

    Super Bowl parties and the Internet were abuzz in 2008 after the eTrade baby made his debut to tell us about buying stock from the site. Everyone was trying to decide whether the baby was annoying and creepy or cute and funny. The votes seemed to be split pretty evenly between the two. Even though eTrade says they had an uptick in business following the commercial's release, most of us probably didn't hear a lot of talk about the company itself when there was disgusting baby puke to discuss.

  10. SoBe Life Water "Thrillicious"

    There's a difference between creating an unforgettable ad that will make everyone remember a product and making one that people can't get out of their heads because they don't understand what the company was thinking. "Thrillious" was the latter. PepsiCo introduced SoBe Life Water in 2008 by broadcasting this weird ad featuring Naomi Campbell and a bunch of lizards dancing to "Thriller." It left the audience wondering how any of the elements went together and why that should make them buy this brand of enhanced water. Rather than contributing to a lasting brand, the commercial got SoBe a lot of immediate attention that died down just as quickly.

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