Super Bowl 2012: The Best and Worst Commercials You Probably Won't Agree With

Dan Levy@danlevythinksNational Lead WriterFebruary 6, 2012

As good as the game was—and it was as good as they get—there will still be just as much attention thrust upon the commercials in the wake of Super Bowl XLVI.

Let's thrust a little more.

Before we get to the best and worst Super Bowl ads, let's put in a quick caveat: Movie commercials are all ranked in the middle of the pack because they are all ostensibly 30-second trailers and not specifically-created Super Bowl commercials. Plus, no matter how good the movie looks, the commercial itself is cookie-cutter.

That, and I really hate the E*Trade baby. If I could vote for that ad twice, I would make it the worst and second-worst commercial. That wasn't the only terrible ad. There were some others.

Before we get to those, let's highlight some of the best.



This is almost a perfect ad, with Clint Eastwood's monologue both tugging on America's heartstrings and kicking its collective butt into gear.

Sure, the ad plays on patriotism, but it's not pandering by using cheap shots of American flags and members of our military like other ads have in the past. It was rather brilliantly done, if only coming with one small blunder: If this is the nation's halftime, that means the world (or the United States, at least) will meet its end in 2248.

Who knew Clint Eastwood was a Mayan?


There were a lot of really funny car ads this year, but none is better than the Hyundai Veloster ad for its combination of ridiculousness and reality.

Sure, the ad is supposed to illustrate that the car is so fast a cheetah would just give up on chasing it. But the byproduct of that is the more literal point of the ad—a cheetah will always attack a slow-moving man before chasing a car. 

Its genius is in its realism...and in its man-chasing cheetah.


Look, this is a good ad, but it would have been the best ad of the night if they didn't muck up the ending with the completely unnecessary Star Wars cutaway. A fat dog making himself thin so he can chase a car? That's brilliant.

So why, advertising executives working on behalf of Volkswagen, did you have to remind us that it's not quite as good as your ad from last year?

Yes, you had the best ad last year. You didn't have to cheapen this year's effort by overpaying for more Star Wars rights. George Lucas has enough of our money.


Look, I'm a sucker for any ad that has a second head pop out of a man's shoulder to sing a song about how confident he's feeling. That's not to mention it's a pretty catchy song. Sometimes silly works.


That was over the top, and it was fantastic. Not only does making fun of the people who stand in line to get new Apple products never get old, Samsung made the ad so much better with The Darkness' Justin Hawkins and a carnival celebration. Really smart, fun stuff.


Who hasn't peed in a pool before? You have to give the kid credit for trying to get into a bathroom. Still, going in the pool is far more liberating.


The baby in the slingshot is cute, but the dog giving a man a bag of Doritos to keep quiet about killing his cat is pretty sadistic and smart. Think about the average Doritos customer—that guy would totally keep quiet about a dead cat for another bag of munchies.


I really enjoyed a look at some of the geniuses who helped build our technology getting together in one commercial. Of course, as many people on Twitter said at the time, they didn't put the workers who built our phones for two cents an hour in the commercial. Still, a good spot.


Sue me, I'm a sucker for old cartoons. This is one of those ad campaigns that successfully evolved, from just Snoopy for years to now including many more old cartoon characters. Voltron? How does that not help sell insurance?



Sex sells. But unlike the GoDaddy.com ads and the Teleflora ad (or, for that matter, the David Beckham H&M ad), the Fiat ad is sexy AND smart. It took at least 20 seconds to figure out what the ad was for, but the hilarity of the situation had us hooked. 

Sure, the ad is a bit exploitative, but the payoff at the end is fantastic and almost makes the viewers feel like they were in on the joke the whole time, even though we totally weren't.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Honda's Ferris Bueller remake, Acura's Seinfeld spot, Dannon Oikos (who hasn't wanted to head butt John Stamos?) and the Skechers dog ad that would have made the list until Mark Cuban's cameo knocked it down a few spots.



Okay, here's the thing, Audi: Nobody cares about your headlights. Okay, not nobody. My mom cares, but she already has an Audi. To center an entire Super Bowl commercial around your headlights is a grave miscalculation of your brand and what people in the car market actually care about. 

One other thing...you can't use vampires in your commercial if the gag of your commercial is that you hate vampires. Even if your car destroys vampires, your ad still features them. Meta doesn't work when there are vampires involved.


Not only is the marketing campaign surrounding the use of tire technology in sports just simply trying too hard to pander to sports fans, hiring a swarm of sports media members makes the ads even worse.

Maybe it's just my sports media brain, but I hate when reporters and other journalists are used in promotional spots. Bridgestone would have been better served using the athletes and fake caricatures of sports media (If those involved aren't already).


Someone needs to reinvent this ad campaign. It's terrible. There's nothing else to say. Terrible.


It's as if Bud Light gave up this year, focusing more on its new Platinum brand selling itself instead of developing any real marketing campaign around the new product. The "Here We Go" ad was actually pretty funny. I wish Bud Light had done something more for Platinum.


Die, baby (What, it's not a real baby?).