The Super Bowl (Feb. 7, 6:30 p.m., on CBS) has long been the holy grail for splashy new commercials, filling million-dollar slots with some of the best — and weirdest — ads in TV history. Here, some of our favorites.
Xerox ”Monks” (1977)
A cherubic-faced monastic is ordered to produce 500 handwritten tracts, so naturally he takes them to Xerox. This was one of the first Super Bowl ads with watercooler staying power, and most of the similar humorous, high-concept spots that followed have been mere copies.
Apple ”1984” (1984)
Ridley Scott was knee-deep in dystopia coming off Blade Runner when he directed this iconic commercial. A track star runs through a room of automatons and hurls a hammer at their big-screen overlord. Which begs the question: What would be on George Orwell’s iPod?
McDonald’s ”Showdown” (1993)
Two of basketball’s greatest go mano a mano, as Larry Bird and Michael Jordan play an increasingly elaborate game of H-O-R-S-E for a Big Mac, because somehow, between the two of them, the multimillionaires can afford only one. Mickey D’s ad hit nothin’ but net…profit.
Eds ”Cat Herders” (2000)
Ah, 2000. When bloated, overconfident dotcom companies were willing to throw millions of dollars away just for a simple visual pun. And while we may not remember the company it was plugging, the image of hundreds of cats stampeding across the prairie is indelible.
E*Trade ”Monkey” (2000)
Years before its talking baby, the online stock trading company filled 30 seconds of grade-A prime airtime with footage of a monkey and two yokels dancing to ”La Cucaracha” in a garage, capped off by the honesty-is-the-best-policy punchline: ”Well, we just wasted 2 million dollars.”
Heineken ”Beer Run” (2005)
Brad Pitt risks a walk to the corner shop to pick up a six-pack as he’s pursued by a madding crowd of paparazzi. This David Fincher-directed spot aired right around the transition from Braniston to Brangelina, making the ad’s final, anonymous phone call all the more intriguing.