It is not easy to pick the top five worst superbowl commercials of all time.
There's bad, like those mens razors ads which make my teeth hurt every year, then there's really really bad like backfiring (literally) jokes, and then there's so bad that masses of people protest and your company sues the ad agency who created the ad bad. With that said, here's Adland's pick of the top five worst super bowl ads of all time. We've combed through the 35 years of Super bowl ads in The Super Bowl Commercials archive to bring you these fantastic turds.
GoDaddy can't even do an ad that'll make it to the TOP of a worst of list, which really says everything right there. No wait, the "beauty shot" below says everything. The key to having a dash of pretty fly by in an ad is to edit it so that only the best and prettiest pictures (and if you can manage it, models) are shown in those few seconds. If you can't even get that right, please just stop it. That model looks like she just smelled the shit that is this "idea". The trying too hard sophmoric humor and sex angle being "too racy for TV" is really tired to begin with, and the fervor with which GoDaddy and Bob Parsons tries to get press for these 'stunts' every year remind me of a sugar-high 3-year olds tantrum over toys. Add a few buxom babes, bikers, a tattooed little person in a bright orange suit, some wet T-shirt action with sprayed champagne plus longhaired slackers rating it all with upside down score cards in the "marketing department" located in an otherwise normal cubicle type office building and you've successfully insulted pretty much everyone on the planet in the space of five seconds. Go Daddy!
Number Four: Lifeminders - The Worst Commercial 2000 - 2000 super bowl XXXIV commercials
Lifeminders must be so proud that their "worst commercial" actually is, the worst. Trying way too hard to copy the 'no ad' idea of the FedEx's brilliant spot in superbowl 1998 but without the relevance they torture you with a badly tuned piano for 30 seconds just to sell you "email lists of information" which basically sounds like spam. The ad is wrong, the company idea is wrong - the only thing they ever did right was the name of this ad. One out of three is bad no matter what people say.
Number Three: The Bud bowl IV Bud Bowl VI Part 1, Bud Bowl VI Part 2, Bud Bowl VI Part 3, Bud Bowl VI Part 4, all in 1984 super bowl XVIII commercials.
It might have been funny in 1989 when it began, but by 1994 the pained expressions on coaches Mike Ditka and Bum Phillips faces, coupled with Marv Albert commenting on the antics of a break dancing aluminum can and terrible overacting from all people in the bar just made the whole thing cringe-worthy to the max. Clearly lacking knowledge of KISS the creatives jam everything they can get into this series, an "evolving storyline", a million dollars sweepstakes, nude bottles and even a woman at a bar looking at this as if it were sexy (gag!), a hurricane, bleeped out swearing, an entire stadium being ripped up by robot hands on blimps and flown into a bar, and finally some dork stealing one of the bottle players thus changing the outcome of the game. What idea did they not cram into these ads, I wonder. The only good thing that ever came of this is that Bud quit doing the annoying Bud bowl.
Number Two: Holiday Inn - Class Reunion - 1997 super bowl XXXI commercials
Enter the sexiest woman at a class reunion party, she's hotter than July, dressed in animal print and the camera spends time checking out her breasts, her butt, her nose and so on all the while a list of surgical improvements and their pricetag is being listed by the voice-over in true Mastercard - Priceless style. So we've already established that it's pretty sexist, and this is where the whole thing gets muddy, turns out the beautiful babe was formerly Bob Johnson. Confusions all around on who was offended, possibly everyone.
I'm going to hell for this but I can't help I laugh at that name. Other suggestions might be Dick Weiner, John Thomas, Buster Hymen, Charlie Russell, Roger O'Henry, Rick Hard or lets not be coy Mr. 100% all-beef thermometer.
Stuart Elliot had this to say about the ad back in 1997.
"Holiday Inn: The surgery that changed 'Bob' into the sexiest woman at the 1975 class reunion is likened to a makeover of the lodging chain by Bass PLC. The racy spot is ruined by the final shot, when a male classmate reacts to the new Bob with a horrified grimace. What's next, narrow rooms for the narrow-minded?"
Holiday Inn soon pulled the ad - and today its widely reported that Gay, lesbian and transgender activist groups threatened boycott, but all I can find is a 97 NYT article that states the ad "offended some people." and plenty more archived news sources with the same exact quote. "Some people" were offended, then.
Lets get a group of four army-clad mercenaries in a tricked out Safari-hunting Humvee chasing down a famously barefoot Kenyan runner, drug him with spiked water so that he keels over like an exhausted African wildebeest infected with Turning Disease, and stick our shoes on him! Yeah, great idea - no one will will find anything remotely offensive or any creepy racist undertones in that. Why don't you go ahead and make all the mercenaries all blond an aryan like - apart from the token woman who could possibly be hispanic by a wild stretch - just to really up the creepy factor. It'll sell shoes. Or not.
This ad was so bad Salon called it the ad from hell and it sent a company previously ranked No. 6 in Fortune magazine's recent list of "America's Fastest Growing Companies" to filing for bankruptcy later the same year. Just for feet sued Saatchi for creating and convincing them to run that ad. We thank Saatchi New York for lowering the bar down into the murky basement of bad, because now if you make a bad ad, it's not this bad. Unless by some freak perfume accident you woke up one morning all the talent of Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and the Simpsons sisters combined if so please fuck off to Hollywood.
Honorable mention to these fine folks. These ads are all truly truly bad. But since they don't even seem to be trying to be good - unless they are all produced in some remote planet where focus group "creativity" is the only thing there is - they can never make the list above since those ads all actually tried harder to invent something new, rather than to just slap a camera up to film the brief and add some lust in shape of a nice looking woman to the mix.
All the Gillette ads - and before you tell me that I'm not their target, I've been using Gilette for my legs since they had only two razor blades. But that's only because I can't find Wilkinson Sword at my supermarket, which I'd much rather buy as I won't be sponsoring these awful awful ads and their made up language of tech-words. If you dress a razor up in pink and name it "venus" I'll run ten miles in the other direction. Stick that in your focus group and smoke it. Here's a particularly annoying example - "Fuckers keep this up, and I'm going Amish" as Clayton so eloquently put it.
Gilette - Fusion - Reinvented- 2006
from 2006 super bowl XL commercials
infoUSA/SalesGenies "success". This ad is so bad I fear that I'll sink to the same level of terrible if I even attempt to review it. Do we have the product/service as hero? Check. Do we have the unimaginative fast red car as a reward? Check. Do we have the sexy lady will take an interest in you if you have the fast car? Check. It's like a cliché-convention and they paid millions to "wow" you with this shit.
infoUSA/SalesGenie - "Success"
from 2007 Super Bowl XLI commercials
Not quote bad enough. - they try but they don't reach the bottom of the barrel.
Burger King - Herb the Nerd - 1986 Herb was supposedly the only person in America to have never eaten at burger King, and you could win money if you found him. He was also the least charming person in America, so nobody bothered to look for him.
Wavy Lays - Bet In 1994 the former Vice President Dan Quayle who messed up a spelling bee on the word "potato" seems to be a stoners choice as a famous face in a potato-chip advert. The only thing keeping this off our top five list is the fact that even back when he was only thirteen, Elijah Wood was a talented actor that could save a humdrum script.
Wavy Lays - Bet - 1994
from 1994 super bowl XXVIII commercials
Bud Light - Flatulent horse ad Here's that famous fart joke that backfired. The add-on "rocket sled" gag at the end makes it even worse.
Bud Light - Sleigh ride - 2004
from 2004 super bowl XXXVIII (ads)
Other people insist that these are bad too.
The apple "lemmings" ad might have suffered sequel burn trying to follow in the footsteps of the hugely successful "1984" ad, but not matter what people say today - like that business people were "offended" at being called lemmings and that the ad was "depressing" - I can't help but like the dang thing. C'mon, whistle the tune with me!
Apple - Lemmings -1985
from 1985 super bowl XIX commercials