Adland's pick of the top five worst ever super bowl ads of all time

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.

Number Five: GoDaddy - Marketing 2007 - 2007 Super Bowl XLI commercials

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.

Number One: Just for feet - Kenyan Runner - 1999 super bowl XXXIII commercials

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.

Burger King - Herb the Nerd - 1986

from 1986 super bowl XX commercials

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
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MaryWills's picture

Wow. Nice selection of bad super bowl commercials! Some of those are just plain painful!

Dabitch's picture

Ta. I'm curious though, which films adgrunts would like to nominate for the worst. We don't have enough voting data (on ALL 35 years) to really be able to gage that.

Wendall's picture

I wonder how many small African nations could have been fed with the money spent on those Superbowl ads...

TruthInAdvertising's picture

Mr. 100% all-beef thermometer. This is now my porn name.

DaniS's picture

I just read somewhere that the 30 seconds spots are going for something like 2.7 million a pop this year. Which is insane, especially if some one is going to have another flop ideas like the ones you listed above.

I think your "worst" list could really have two categories, there are the "worst" commercials that can be memorable (even if not in a good way) because they were so bad. Then there are the "worst" commercials like your Number 4 - I have absolutely no recollection of it whatsoever.

To have a closer look at this years Super Bowl commercial line up you can check out Firebrand's Road to Super Bowl Monday (here's our Social Media Press Release: And if you want a second chance viewing of the best commercials from SB XLII they'll all be on Monday AM.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane :)

adlib's picture

yeah or I could stay here where I get to watch the super ads before Monday... In fact I can watch some right now.

caffeinegoddess's picture

Um. Nice spam at the end there DaniS. ;)

But I think I'll stay right here where the Super Bowl XLII commercials will be posted in beautiful quicktime (as usual) to the Super Bowl Commercial Archive during the event.

Dabitch's picture

The same procedure as last year, Miss Sophie?"
"The same procedure as every year, James."

* background for non German/Norweigans/Swedes who don't get the joke.
Ah yes, the yearly all nighter. :) Posting ads as they come. Always good fun. How many years have we been doing that now? Seems like bloody forever. Remind me to stock up on Jolt, aye?

Imanaddy's picture

Sssssshhhhh! Adland's timely posting of the bowl in Quicktime is our best kept secret. Let the cheapskates who don't want to upgrade go to or youtube and suffer crap flash or whatever.

caffeinegoddess's picture

Hah, true. Hopefully it's been long enough that if I end up at SB party this year, my friends won't tease me when I take notes on the ads. ;)

Mets82's picture

Your a genius. Some of the ads I have to see for myself but your a genius for just thinking this. I'm surprised you don't have the Terry Tate ad up. I've commented that it stunk. What's so great about that?  I  see someone get the crap kicked out of them during the Super Bowl, but now  I have to see it during the commericals? Also, one more spot. The Levi's 2002 spot with the guy wearing the jeans down the street. That's just stupid. Why would I, the consumer, see a guy walking or whatever the hell he was doing, down the street, and think "I'll get some of those jeans". If I buy Levi jeans it will be because I want to, not because of that dumb ad.

caffeinegoddess's picture

Um, we have a few Terry Tate spots. Try searching. This one is from the 2003 Super Bowl.

Dabitch's picture

I think he meant on the list of the worst. Terry might be bad but it wasn't one of the five worst ever.

caffeinegoddess's picture

ah. my bad for replying pre-caffeination. ;)

TDD's picture

That terrible Godaddy commercial looks similar to a commercial World Wrestling Entertainment (then, World Wrestling Federation) did in 2000(?) I think it was called, 'Family Values'.


Found it.


(deleted YouTube link)

Dabitch linked to it on Adland.

"Happiness is overrated."

Dabitch's picture

Also here ( I mean sheesh, if there's something we got plenty of baby it's Superbowl ads) , known as "world headquarters". ;P

TDD's picture

I did three searches of Adland, and I came up empty. I was sure it was here! My search skills are very poor today.

If I had typed "WWF" I would have found it, but I didn't to eliminate any World Wildlife Fund (WWF) ads.

Thanks :)

"Happiness is overrated."

Mets82's picture

By the way, the go daddy spot should look somewhat familiar to the World Wrestling Entertainment spot in 2000. The young lady playing the go girl, Candice Michelle is a wrestler in the WWE.

TDD's picture

Candice Michelle isn't in the WWF commercial.

"Happiness is overrated."

Mets82's picture

Also the lemmings spot could be the worst I've seen just based on the fact it's too disturbing and creepy. Who wants to see that type of spot during a Super Bowl?

Dabitch's picture

I do. It's a good idea. The rest if the 1985 ones are rubbish.

DaniS's picture

Well, I'm sure you do a stellar job over here at Adland. Just throwing it out there in case any of you were interested in having a place to find commercials of the past/present and future. Sounds a bit more convenient than having to stay up till all hours... but sure, seems like a deep rooted tradition. I can't mess with that :).

Dabitch's picture

Passion is never convenient.

adlib's picture


Dabitch's picture

Haha adlib. Cute.

Honestly DaniS, you're shaming Abraham Harrison's "when in Rome" idea. Engaging in a community conversation should be based on knowing said community first. Adland has the worlds largest super bowl collection (that means past and present) both off- and online. We've been posting the bowl commercials since way back in nineties when there was only one other website doing it as well (USAToday). This website has been around since 1996. We're listed as a resource by the US Library of Congress, the New York Times uses us a source for their yearly bowl-review. We (as in me and the crew) are advertising professionals who have worked and are working on international, national and US regional accounts such as Anheuser Busch, LoJack, Smirnoff, Heineken, T.J. Maxx, Peugeot, Renault, Carlsberg, Grolsch, Nissan, MTV, Dunkin' Doughnuts and New Balance. Our community consists mainly of adgrunts with similar sounding resumés and a whole bunch of people who work exclusively in the viral advertising and buzz realm since back in the day it was considered a new phenomenon - as well as regular ad-fans or ad fanatics, actors in the ads, production company people, directors, ad students, advertising tutors, and producers. Talk to us like you would talk to your colleagues. Or perhaps your boss. But most of all, realize that we have the worlds largest superbowl collection and whatever Firebrand comes up with we've already seen.

TDD's picture

(Said with the voice and style of a Ric Flair promo.)

You want to talk about the Super Bowl? The highs the lows. The winners, the losers. The best of the best! The worst of the worst. The thing that millions of people come to see. The greatest moment of the entire year! You want to talk about the Super Bowl? You want to talk about the Super Bowl? Adland is the Super Bowl! Whoo!

"Happiness is overrated."

Dabitch's picture

Gotta love Rick Flairs hair.

Toste's picture

That's real classy DaniS. Like you walked into a Giants bar sweet talking for the Patriots.

Neaner's picture

Pretty funny though, since the "best commercials from SB XLII " are already up here. You totally stepped in it DaniS.

James Trickery's picture

Sooooo, Firebrand are doing a Monday thing? That explains why firebrandtv40wall was logged in here all last night I guess. They have to watch the ads somewhere right?

tod.brody's picture

Every industry has its leader and its follower; Coke and Pepsi, McDonalds and BK, Fed Ex and UPS, Adland and Firebrand.

Dabitch's picture

Hahaha! I like that. We're The Real Thing®™

James Trickery's picture

You should have a jingle. Uh-huh.

Dabitch's picture

And three pretty background singers amitire? How very nineties.

Andreas-Udd's picture

firebrand, firebrand, firebrand (this is search tweaking in action)

This post and this thread is hilarious.

Oh and firebrandtv40wall is logged in again.

Neo's picture

Let me get this straight, Firebrand was logged in here and used a viral marketing company to "seed" their Super Tuesday on Adland just a few weeks before the whole company died?

How very sad. NBC Universal should have sent Dabitch the money that firebrand burned instead. In fact, I'd pay to see her do the talking head/shots girl thing around the latest commercials.

Jack C. Catalano's picture

I think we can update this thread with some of the commercials from this year alone.

Dabitch's picture

^ accurate