Ah, Super Bowl night: when America sits attentively for commercials, just to get its collective judgment on. Isn't it the best?
Sometimes, not so much. For every belching Budweiser frog, there's at least 10 others that leave us scratching our heads, disappointed, or just plain turned off. A clown drinking beer through its bottom? Unsubscribe! Long-dead Fred Astaire dancing with a vaccuum? Not on our watch, Dirt Devil!
And sometimes, there's a year like last, in which it seemed 97% of commercials feature men who refuse to wear pants. No one wants to look at that!
U.S. & World
Here's the worst spot from last year, along with ten more that have boggled the mind.
Last Year's Worst: Taco Bell, "It Rocks" (2010)
We'd give this award to the leering tripe of GoDaddy.com, but they've already made the list. How disappointing is it that the company that gave America a taco-loving dog is now shoving a man who can't rap onto a soundstage to spit poorly about cinnamon twists? We didn't laugh or find ourselves slightly amused even once by this flat contrivance, but at least Taco Bell gets points for truth in advertising by using "the round mound of rebound" to hawk its artery-clogging fare.
10. Pepsi, "Forever Young" (2009)
Nostalgia's tricky, because if you get it wrong you just insult everyone old -- or discerning -- enough to know better. Pools to halfpipes, sepia to HD, lighters to cell phones, and everything's fine -- but Will.i.am, the guy responsible for "Boom Boom Pow," is no Bob Dylan, sirs, so you can take your can and shove it.
09. GoDaddy.com, "Shower" (2009)
Deep in our souls, we know all our platforms are run by frat boy college kids and really smart 12-year-olds. But we don't want to be reminded with sophomoric Internet porn humor, and we want more from Danica Patrick. More clothing, more dignity.
08. Holiday Inn, "Class Reunion" (1997)
"It's amazing what changes you can make for a few thousand dollars. Imagine what Holiday Inn's will be like when we spend a billion." YOU MEAN MY HOTEL ROOM WILL BE A MAN? America wasn't quite ready to explain this one to their kids.
07. Hyundai, "Angry Bosses" (2009)
It may have been car of the year, but the spot was a lemon -- it's just a montage of angry bosses and embarassed employees, all leading up to the would-be catchphrase "Hyundai: Like 'Sunday.'" Turns out America doesn't really trust a car whose makers spend $3 million dollars on an uncomfortable pronunciation guide.
06. Apple, "Lemmings" (1984)
Looking to capitalize on the buzz from their game-changing, feel-good commercial from the year before, Apple took out newspaper ads telling Americans they'd be sorry if they went to the bathroom in the fourth quarter. Presumably they thought we'd like to turn off the game and watch slideshows of concentration camp victims as well, because this was a bit too dark. The response prompted Apple to take a 15-year break from the Super Bowl.
05. Dairy Council, "Cheese! Glorious Cheese!" (1986)
The 1986 Super Bowl is why America's fat. This dangerously catchy and insidious song entered the public's brain, attached itself, and demanded cheese, glorious cheese, on everything. Was the Dairy Council secretly backed by the Russians? WE SAY YES.
04. SalesGenie.com, "Pandas" (2008)
The only thing more disastrously culturally insensitive than this is commercial #1.
03. McDonald's, "McDLT Fantasy" (1986)
But soft! What ad through yonder TV breaks?
It is for "meat," and everyone shortly died of plague.
This ad proved why romantic period pieces rarely succeed at selling beef patties.
02. Budweiser, "Budweiser In Space" (1986)
Telling the public if they don't ask for your product properly it will try to kill them from behind a super-futuristic stack of regular old televisions is certainly one way to try to sell it. It's just not the right one.
01. Just for Feet, "Kenyan Runner" (1999)
How this idea made it past the pitch stage is the single greatest mystery of the advertising age: a black Kenyan runner is hunted by white Americans in a Humvee, only to be drugged and laced into shoes he hates while unconscious. "No! No!" he screams when he wakes, trying to remove the very product the advertisement was meant to sell.
It was apalling, insensitive, and imperialist, something friendly shoe retail chain Just for Feet spent $7 million dollars to convey to 127 million potential customers at once. They later sued the ad agency, Saatchi & Saatchi, for malpractice, but it wouldn't matter: Just for Feet filed for bankruptcy later that year.
Now that's a bad commercial.