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All-time best Super Bowl ads score big

By Joshua Nichols
Published On: Dec 08 2011 02:04:25 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 29 2013 08:04:47 AM CST
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Admit it. You might not remember who won last year's Super Bowl, but you probably remember some of the commercials shown during the game.

Even non-football fans watch the game for the ads, which fetch millions of dollars for 30-second spots. You find yourself talking about them the next day, even if you can't quite remember what company or product the ad was for.

So as you prepare for this year's Super Bowl, whether you are watching it for the game, the commercials or both, take a look at what we feel is the top 10 all-time best Super Bowl commercials. And for a taste of these commercials, check out YouTube or visit www.superbowl-ads.com.

No. 10: Fed Ex, "Dancing Burt Reynolds" (2005)

This one will always be one of my favorites. As the ad itself says, it's got a celebrity (Burt Reynolds, dancing nonetheless), an animal (a bear that not only dances, but also talks), a cute kid, a kick to the groin, attractive females, a catchy pop song and a bonus ending.

The commercial is so good, that, as it says, the product message is purely optional.

No. 9: Monster.com, "When I Grow Up" (1999)

Kids are so cute. Nobody can resist them. Especially when the fresh-faced tots look into the camera and share their dreams for the future. But this being a Super Bowl ad, they don't give you the answers you would expect.

Instead, you get "When I grow up, I want to be a brown nose," and "When I grow up, I want to be in middle management." Easily one of the most memorable ads and it made you look at yourself a little closer.

No. 8: Budweiser, "Frogs" (1995)

Unless you are a die-hard San Francisco 49ers fan, you probably don't remember the game that led to the team's fifth title. Steve Young threw for six touchdown passes, including four in the first half, en route to a 28-10 halftime lead and a 49-26 final score to beat the San Diego Chargers.

But it was three little frogs that stole the show and had everybody talking, and croaking "Bud... Weis... Errrr," Monday morning in 1995. The commercial was such a success that, for better or worse, it was pretty much omnipresent on TV for the better part of the next decade. It was cute at first and got annoying fast, but hey, it's still better than the "Wassup?!?!" commercials.

No. 7: Electronic Data Systems, "Herding Cats" (2000)

While the EDS ad the following year featuring the "running of the squirrels" was a bit funnier, this one takes the cake. You might not have remembered the brand or what they even do, but you do remember the tough cowpokes talking about the dangers of herding cats, showing off their scratches and taking lint brushes to their jackets. You know you talked about this one the next day.

No. 6: E*Trade, "Monkey" (2000)

You aren't going to find a much more simpler commercial. All it features is two dim-witted guys sitting in a garage clapping along with a monkey tapping his toes to "La Cucaracha."

As you sat there either wondering what the heck was going on or gasping for air as you rolled on the floor laughing, the punch-line came across the screen: "Well, we just wasted 2 million bucks. What are you doing with your money?"

No. 5: Apple, "1984" (1984)

Maybe this is a bit too low for a commercial that is usually acknowledged as one of the best in Super Bowl commercial history. It did a great job of seizing on the "1984 Big Brother" idea and with "Blade Runner" director Ridley Scott running the show, it definitely generated the hype.

It features a jogger running through an authoritarian world and throwing a sledgehammer through a giant video, promising to free us from a dystopian, gray, industrial world with the introduction of the Macintosh personal computer. It was great for its time, but does it stand up to the best that came after it?

No. 4: McDonald's, "The Showdown" (1993)

It's been 15 years since this ad premiered during Super Bowl XXVII and you still hear references to it pop up in "Horse" games. Michael Jordan and Larry Bird try to one-up each other in a physics defying shooting contest over a Big Mac and fries.

While you suspected that neither Larry Legend or Air Jordan scarfed down MickeyD's too often, you couldn't help but remember this ad and wish you could make the shot "over the second rafter, off the floor ... nothing but net." And it gets bonus points for the wonderful outfit Jordan shows off in the commercial.

No. 3: Budweiser, "Clydesdales Play Ball" (1996)

We've seen the Budweiser Clydesdales play football many times since this original premiered. They've had a zebra referee, they've had a donkey that dreamed of making the team and they had an overzealous sheered sheep "streak" the game.

But it's this one that's the best. As the Clydesdales play a pickup football game, someone asks is they always do that after seeing a horse boot the pigskin through the uprights. A cowboy answers, "they usually go for two."

No. 2: Coke, "Mean Joe Greene" (1979)

OK, so this commercial didn't actually premiere during Super Bowl XIV, which featured Joe Greene and his Steelers, but actually in October 1979. Still, it's most remembered for its Super Bowl appearance and is still one of the most-talked-about ads of all times. Even people who've never seen a football game in their life know this one.

A kid offers his Coca-Cola to a battle-weary "Mean Joe" Greene -- who softens up just enough to toss the kid his jersey as a reward. You know it tears you up, even if you never saw it when it originally ran.

No. 1: Reebok, "Terry Tate: Office Linebacker" (2003)

This one was elevated to the top of the list both because it was so funny and so memorable. One of the best commercials at generating talk at the office water cooler the next day, it featured a linebacker from Reebok recruited by a company's CEO to boost productivity.

The commercial is filled with a series of brutal hits as Tate lays the smack down on some cubicle drones. His hits, punctuated by lines such as "Break was over 15 minutes ago, Mitch!" made it so you couldn't help but remember this ad, even as you were flinching, then laughing, while watching it.

Honorable mentions: Emerald Nuts "Robert Goulet" (2007); Pepsi "Apartment 10G" (1987); Pepsi "Diner" (1995); Pepsi "Sucked in" (1995); E*Trade "Money Out the Wazoo" (2000); Careerbuilder.com "Monkeys" (2005); Tabasco "Mosquito" (1998).

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