Billboard went through all the Super Bowl ads of the past 10 years to find the spots that connected music and brands in ads that were exceptional.
Budweiser “Gonna Fly Now” 2008
Part of Rocky’s long-standing grip on pop culture can be attributed to the Rocky theme song, which is officially called “Gonna Fly Now”. The triumphant trumpets are used to good effect to underscore a Clydesdale going through a training regimen in order to make the Budweiser team.
Diet Pepsi Max, Haddaway “What is Love” 2008
Haddaway’s “What is Love” saw a resurgence when it became the theme song to the popular Saturday Night Live sketch “The Roxbury Guy” in the 1990s, which made its use in a Diet Pepsi Max spot years later so key. The joke comes full circle when Chris Kattan, one of the original Roxybury Guys and a star in the subsequent movie, shows up at the end and is annoyed by people doing his signature dance move.
Dove, Cyndi Lauper “True Colors” 2006
Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” is re-interpreted by a Girl Scout troop. As poignant images of girls are shown phrases such as “thinks she’s fat” are shown on screen. The uplifting spot is both touching and memorable.
Sobe Life Water “Thriller” Michael Jackson 2008
Both Michael Jackson and Naomi Campbell have experienced their share of trouble with law enforcement. That’s why it’s surprising to hear Jackson’s world wide smash “Thriller” as Naomi Campbell slithers around with digital lizards for Sobe Life Water.
Cadillac “Been A Long Time” Led Zeppelin 2002
When Cadillac used Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” in its Super Bowl ad, the reaction was instantaneous. While sales for the luxury car rose critics called the rockers sellouts. Viewed by today’s standards it seems unremarkable, but for its time the ad got more people talking about music and cars. See it here.
Levis, Control Machete “Si Senor” 2002
The guy with the crazy dancing legs? His name is actually Crazy Legs. That’s just one of the small touches that makes this Levis spot of a man dancing wildly down the street so arresting. While the song is in Spanish its message is universal.
Pepsi, Britney Spears “Simply Irresistible” 2002
In the middle of Britney Spears singing a medley of Pepsi jingles from over the year the then white hot Spears breaks into Robert Palmer’s “Simply Irresistible”, which was used in a 1989 Pepsi commercial. Spears does a full on imitation complete with mannequin like women dancing stiffly in the background. It’s a small part of a longer commercial but the image and song stick in the mind.
Mountain Dew, Queen “Bohemian Rhapsody” 2002
While the definitive video for Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” is in 1992’s Wayne’s World, this comes version with lyrics about Mountain Dew instead of whatever “Bohemian Rhapsody” is actually about close.
Oxygen, Helen Reddy “I Am Woman” 2000
The network aimed at women announced itself as having arrived with a spot that uses Reddy’s iconic “I Am Woman.” While the network subsequently struggled in the ratings before being acquired by NBC Universal its display girl power attitude amidst the beer and chip ads was refreshing. See it here.
Puma, Korn “Freak On A Leash”1999
Never mind that Korn are famous for wearing Adidas. This gritty spot for rival shoemaker Puma sees the hard rockers performing on stage while athletes like Vince Carter and Serena Williams compete in their respective sports of basketball and tennis.
A couple of caveats: No movie ads were considered and they had to run during the actual game, not before or after or during the half time. The reason for the movie ad ban is that they are rarely created specifically for the Super Bowl. Also, ad time during the game is the most expensive which is why only those ads were considered.