When you do a Super Bowl commercial right, you not only become a popular company but the money starts to roll in like never before. Companies like Pepsi, Doritos and Bud pump out these commercials to stay relevant as a product and keep the edge on the competition.
But often time you’ll get a lesser known company try to throw big league punches by rolling out a multi-million dollar ad to show they have what it takes to play with the big boys.
When it works, it puts you on the map.
When it fails, you become the Super Bowl commercial equivalent Ryan Leaf, JaMarcus Russell or any of the other of the biggest NFL Draft busts of all-time. For every “MJ vs. Larry Bird” or Betty White Snickers commercial there are about 50 GoDaddy or Pets.com ad — or much worse.
15. Outpost.com – Gerbil Cannon (1999)
If you can tell me what Outpost.com was, you automatically win. The very purpose of Super Bowl commercials is to raise brand awareness and to put your company on the map. Outpost.com thought they were doing that when they literally said they’d be firing gerbils out of a cannon to get you to remember who they were.
Mission miserably failed.
Outpost.com is one of many dot-com companies that squandered their company’s savings on a Super Bowl ad only to have the dot-com bubble burst soon after, thus bankrupting their company. Pets.com is another example of a dot-com casualty, but they actually had a very successful ad (remember the sock-puppet that ran around with a mini microphone).
Outpost.com did the exact opposite of what you’re supposed to do with a Super Bowl ad, and while other companies ruined themselves with idiotic ads, Outpost represents a generation of companies that went big and went home in the late 90s.
14. McDonald’s – LeBron vs. Dwight (2010)
I hate to keep ragging on 2010, because it did produce some gems like the Snicker commercial and a brilliant E*Trade ad, but the LeBron vs. Dwight commercial was just so digesting it can’t go without mention. The reason this ad is awful has more to do with how uncreative we are as a society now and less to do with the fact it features two of the most polarizing figures in American sports.
Basically, this ad is a far less interesting rip-off of the most memorable Super Bowl commercial of all-time. If you want to see this ad, just look up Michael Jordan vs. Larry Bird and you have not only the 1993 original, but a much better version of the commercial from a time just before America sold itself out to corporate slobs.
13. Bud Light – Upside Down Clown (2003)
Bud LIght has managed to hit more than it’s missed, but 2003 was a bad year when it came to a Super Bowl commercial. Basically, the commercial is 30 seconds of a guy drinking a beer the same way Steve-O from Jackass did in one of their movies. There’s nothing funny about the commercial, it’s not at all remotely clever, and it’s 100 percent counterintuitive to the very point of a Super Bowl ad.
[RELATED: 15 Best Super Bowl Commercials of All-Time]
If you’re trying to promote your product, the last thing you want to do is have it being shoved into the rear-end of a creepy upside down clown. If it had been an attack ad against Coors, then it would have been a little better, but when you’re doing it to your own product it’s just stupid. When you’re a beer company, and people’s reaction to your commercial is to assume the people who came up with it were drunk, you’ve not done your job well at all.
12. E*Trade Wastes $2 Million Dollars and Uses It As A Selling Tool (2000)
When you waste $2 million dollars as a company, the last thing you want to do is be like hey, let us help invest your money! Even the idiot monkey in the commercial wouldn’t invest his money with the help of E*Trade after that, so it’s a wonder they actually survived as a company after this debacle. The commercial is literally a money dancing on a bucket next to two old guys for 30 seconds — it’s seriously confusing.
You’ve got to give E*Trade credit for trying to be different with their ad, but it’s a thin line between different and lazy. Thankfully, the E*Trade talking babies ad rolled around and saved the company.
11. Budweiser - Bud Bowl IV (1992)
This is another classic case of a mildly good idea that just goes on too long and gets absolutely unbearable. Bud Bowl was a concept started in the late 1980s that featured a game within a game, as Budweiser and Bud Light battled each other in the Bud Bowl. During each of the four quarters, one commercial was shown giving an update on the game and in the end some lucky fan was going to win some big money. In 1992, Bud upped the prize to a million bucks and the result was weird.
A guy gets a Bud Bowl ticket but keeps losing it as he chases it around New York City. Again, mildly entertaining idea with boring and laughable execution. If you can remember every horrible kids movie from the 1990s, imagine them all combined as a Budweiser commercial and you have Bud Bowl IV.