Super Bowl Ad 2009 Roundup: The Best and The Worst

3 02 2009

Of the 50+ Super Bowl XLIII ads ran on Sunday, only a handful goes into the Best category. Most were only so-so, regurgitating ideas from 10 or even 20 years ago. The Worst were just plain bad or boring.

The New York Times didn’t approve, stating in commentary, “All the elements that are supposed to make for successful big-game commercials were displayed, over and over again, as if bonuses were being awarded on Madison Avenue for the least creative briefs.” Ouch.

Violence, sex, nostalgia, talking babies…it’s all been done before. And we got to see it all again. Great.

Some of ads were criticized for not making any reference to current times, namely, the recession, like the SoBe Lifewater football players dancing ballet; others, like CareerBuilder and E*Trade did better, talking about changing jobs and re-evaluating your portfolio during hard times.




Advertising Age gave its top ranking to Cash4Gold, which featured a spot with MC Hammer and Ed McMahon, two celebs noted for their financial difficulties. Hammer was selling his bling for cash while McMahon sold his gold toilet. This commercial was timely in its message of people selling items for cash, but it’s also the saddest commercial in that Cash4Gold will probably get the highest ROI of all the Super Bowl ad companies.


This commercial featuring a “crystal ball,” really a snow globe which was thrown through a Doritos vending machine and then hurled in the sensitive spot of a male boss. This commercial won a contest by Frito-Lay and the winners won $1 million and a trip to the Super Bowl. Brothers from a small town in Indiana created the commercial in a local YMCA to win the prize.

The talking baby emerged during last year’s Super Bowl for E*Trade, who brought the baby back with friends this year. The baby shows that E*Trade is easy enough for anyone to navigate.



SoBe Lifewater

The lizards danced again, but in 3D this time, but it fell flat with the addition of three NFL players in white leotards: Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens, Matt Light of the New England Patriots and Justin Tuck of the New York Giants. The stereotype of football players dancing ballet goes back to the Super Bowls of the ’60s. Give it a rest.

Race-car driver Danica Patrick stayed on as GoDaddy’s celeb of choice in a racy shower ad featuring young men that could control what Danica was doing through the Internet, including making her take a shower. The ad was then “continued” on GoDaddy’s web site. Even though this commercial wasn’t humorous or groundbreaking, which is what Super Bowl ads are about, it was a smart move to increase traffic on GoDaddy’s site. At least, if what they want are more men on their site.

Denny’s featured tough cowboys who order pancakes and other assorted breakfast items that come with clown-looking whip cream faces and jelly beans. Denny’s promoted a free breakfast, but failed to include a URL or a call to action. Their Web site crashed soon after the ad aired, and was down for the rest of the game.

If you missed any of the ads, you can watch them all, along with the last eleven years of the best ones, at




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