We love telling stories in NCAA-style brackets. (That's actually how we picked the name of our first kid!)
So naturally, when the annual discussion of Super Bowl ads came up this year, we couldn't resist seeding our favorites into a Sweet 16 of Super Bowl ads. (So the Super Bowl is football and the Sweet 16 is basketball. We're standing by it; all that "wild card" stuff was just too confusing for us.)
Despite all the hype surrounding them and the millions spent on them, very few Super Bowl ads are classics. But some instantly come to mind, like MacIntosh's groundbreaking 1984, and Coke's Mean Joe Greene. Still, it took some head-scratching -- and a bit of digging -- before we narrowed our field to 16.
Among them you'll find classics but also some recent ads, such as that hilarious Snickers commercial featuring Betty White and Volkswagen's The Force. And, of course, no bracket would be complete without at least a few Budweiser commercials.
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As with any bracket, some deserving teams got left out. Call them the bubble ads. But much like in the NFL, not every 8-8 team can make the playoffs (sorry, Cowboys fans). Here are the matchups. Go to DFW.com to watch all the ads and vote for your favorites. Or print out a blank bracket to challenge your friends at your Super Bowl party.
(1) 1984, MacIntosh vs. (16) Pug Attack, Doritos
Apple's 1984 officially aired only once during the game broadcast, introducing the Mac home computer in 1984, but it is regarded as such a classic, it gets replayed just about any time legendary Super Bowl commercials come up. So we pitted an underdog, in a fairly literal sense, against it: Doritos' 2011 ad featuring an idiot teasing a pug -- which prevails, because it has a bigger brain.
(2) Mean Joe Greene, Coca-Cola vs. (15) CareerBuilder.com
Coke's classically sweet 1979 ad, in which a young fan gives then-Pittsburgh Steelers player "Mean" Joe Greene a swig of Coke after Greene has had a particularly tough day, is thought by some to be the greatest Super Bowl ad ever, and it preceded Apple's 1984 ad. Its challenger is a fairly recent CareerBuilder.com ad that involves, among other things, people so ready for a job change that they dream about punching bespectacled koalas.
(3) Betty White, Snickers vs. (14) Gotta Have It, Pepsi
In a case of age before beauty, this matchup features the hard-hitting 2010 Snickers commercial that revived Betty White's career vs. a 1991 spot in which a couple of young boys find more to like than just a thirsty Cindy Crawford in Daisy Dukes.
(4) Clydesdale Respect, Budweiser vs. (13) Imported From Detroit, Chrysler
Not all Super Bowl commercials are glib and comical, as evidenced by these two, both from 2011: a team of Clydesdales pays 10th-anniversary tribute to those lost on 9-11, and rapper Eminem stars in a lengthy ad that states that Detroit and the auto industry may have been battered, but they're not out -- and they're coming back.
( 5) The Force, Volkswagen vs. (12) Monks, Xerox
Another 2011 entry, about a small Darth Vader who can't get the Force to work on anything (well, almost anything), goes up against the oldest ad in the bracket, a 1976 commercial in which a monk pulls off a miracle -- with help from a new, speedy Xerox copier.
(6) Wassup, Budweiser vs. (11) When I Grow Up, Monster.com
Budweiser's classic created a catchphrase and a mini-phenomenon that delighted a generation of beer-swigging, football-watching guys and annoyed the heck out of their girlfriends and wives. It ends with the word "True" -- which could, all too often, apply to the Monster.com ad as well, which features children dressed as adults, telling us they want to "claw their way up to middle management."
(7) Where's the Beef?, Wendy's vs. (10) Frogs, Budweiser
Clara Peller launches one of the top catchphrases of the '80s in an ad campaign that we completely forgot had begun at the 1984 Super Bowl. (Maybe it's because the game itself was so forgettable, unless you were a fan of the L.A. Raiders, which beat the Washington Redskins 38-9.) And the Budweiser Frogs croak out a brand name in a classic from 1995.
(8) Showdown, McDonald's (Jordan vs. Bird) vs. (9) Cat Herder, EDS
Larry Bird and Michael Jordan play the most outrageous game of Horse ever to see who gets a Big Mac (like either of these guys ever has to pay), while EDS shows cowboys herding cats as a way of illustrating whatever EDS does -- but that's not the point, right? The point is the commercial is funny.
Robert Philpot, 817-390-7872