Confession, your friendly neighborhood Mockingbird Sports Editor looks forward to the Super Bowl commercials as much as the game (unless the Falcons are playing). The Yahoo folks have weighed in this week on their top 10 all-time favorite Super Bowl commercials.  It’s a nice mix of the hilarious, the sentimental, and the groundbreaking. So here they are with some grades and commentary. (Reminder, these are Yahoo’s top 10, not mine).  I’ll end with a few that I have had in the ever changing list of best Super Bowl commercials in my head.

10. “1984”, Apple (1984) – So Apple had a new little product called a “MacIntosh Computer” releasing in 1984 to compete with that behemoth (figuratively and spatially) Microsoft PC.  Steve Jobs and company thought that a well placed Super Bowl ad ($600k – $800k estimated cost) might pay off.  The ad was a “tease”, never showing any visual of the actual Mac product that it was introducing.  This audio-visual riff on how Microsoft had set up 1984 as truly “Orwellian” (unless Apple intervened) has been considered by ad experts to be the technical and storyboard standard by which all other Super Bowl commercials are judged.  Grade B- : Though certainly iconic and grand in scope, the commercial is confusing and a bit lofty and pretentious.  It needs to be viewed three of four times before the “Microsoft = Big Brother” intent becomes clear.

9. “Doritos Girl” (Ali Landry), Doritos (1998) – Ali Landry does her best Cindy Crawford/Danica Patrick “Go Daddy” imitation in a laundry mat, and Doritos are flying out of washers and dryers everywhere. Of note here is a Sean Hayes (Jack McFarland in Will & Grace) siting.  Grade D: I don’t get it.  OK,  no, of course I “get” it, but there’s nothing original here, just tired CGI and hormone overloaded college guys.

8. Michael J. Fox, Diet Pepsi (1987) – “Back to the Future” style visuals combined with a “Top Gun” style soundtrack, this one captures Michael J. Fox in all of his endearing “Marty McFlyness”.  He’s going to heroic lengths to find a Diet Pepsi for a new neighbor (NY PD Blue’s Gail O’Grady).  Grade A: This one would show up solidly in a top 10 for me.  It captures the era perfectly and I remember absolutely loving it when it debuted.

7. “The Man You Could Smell Like”, Old Spice (2010) – If I get “Air Jordans” I’m not going to play like Michael Jordan, but if I put on some Old Spice, I can at least smell like the Old Spice guy. Truth in advertising?  Perhaps that’s why this one made the Yahoo list, and, oh yeah, “he’s on a horse”.  Grade B+: This is the best of a strong crop of Old Spice Super Bowl Ads.  The effects and dizzying editing can be a tad distracting in some of the others, but this one works, and Isaiah Mustafa is the most arrogant guy I’ve ever wanted to be.

6. “Brotherhood”, Budweiser (2013) – Bud Light always trumps Bud when it comes to commercials for me (save for those dang frogs and “Up for Whatever”).  The Budweiser Clydesdales seem to sneak in occasionally and give me pause though.  They always come strong.  This one from 2013 adds a “Lassie Come Home” meets “War Horse” vibe. Grade A-: It’s great at telling a wonderful story with no dialogue.  I can’t give a perfect score to anything that tries to manipulate tears out of me though, even if it works to perfection. Darn that Stevie Nicks!

5. “Mean Joe Green” – Coca Cola – (1980) – This one capitalized on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Super Bowl win streak during the era that made “Mean Joe Green” a household name. It’s wonderfully stirring, magical, and simple – all at the same time. That jersey had to pretty smelly though!  I’ve always thought that Tide should get permission from Coca Cola to do a sequel.  Grade A: There was something in the way that this commercial “humanized” an NFL player here, long before ESPN came along and humanized them (and glorified them) far beyond what we ever needed them to be.

4. Betty White, Snickers (2010) – Betty White talking trash, what’s not to love? Even though it’s not real, I still cringe every time I see it when she gets hit hard and driven into the mud.  The thought of playing a pick up football game with Betty White, just sounds fun. Grade B+: This one’s been a bit overplayed since it originally aired, but the Abe Vigoda cameo at the end always makes it worth seeing.

3. “Wassup”, Budweiser (2000) – Remember when we could tell a friend or family member to “pick up the other line” because someone wanted to say “what’s up”? Apparently that wasn’t long ago.  No commercial captured that better than this one, even throwing in the use of an intercom for good measure. Grade A-: It’s one of those that makes me smile every time I go back and watch it – sophomoric, yet thriving community at it’s best.

2. Cindy Crawford, Pepsi (1992) – Eleven year-old boy: “Is that a great looking new Pepsi can, or what?” Well, yes. Grade C+: There’s an innocence to this one that some of the ones that it inspired haven’t captured.  It’s nothing more than Cindy Crawford chugging a Pepsi, but it worked for what it was.

1. “Terry Tate, Office Linebacker”, Reebok (2003) – Yahoo got number one right.  I’ve always laughed consistently the hardest at this one.  A Super Bowl commercial about an “office linebacker” employed to assure productivity?  That can’t fail, and it doesn’t.  There are 5 FUNNY scenes crammed into 60 seconds.  Grade A+: What particularly makes this work so well is how “assimilated” he appears to be into the office culture.

Here finally, are some A+ favorites of mine over the years that Yahoo left out (I apologize for leaving out yours!):

 

And my two favorite all-time: