The Super Bowl – the annual championship game of the National Football League – attracts over 100 million viewers, many of whom tune in not for the sport but for the commercials. The Super Bowl has become the most coveted TV spot for American brands and the commercials themselves have become serious business, demanding directorial flair. So unsurprisingly, the ads attract popular filmmakers, who up the ante every year. Ahead of the 48th Super Bowl on February 4, here’s a pick of some memorable Super Bowl commercials made by acclaimed Hollywood directors over the years.
All the Money in The Word director Ridley Scott’s Apple commercial in 1984 looks appropriately futuristic for its time, and also includes a bonus reference to George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984. “You’ll see why 1984 won’t be like ‘1984’”, the advertisement asserts,as it announces the launch of the new Macintosh. The ad is often hailed as the best Super Bowl commercial of all time and a turning point for the event’s ad game.
Gore Verbinski directed a commercial featuring the iconic three Budweiser frogs a decade before he helmed the first three Pirates of the Caribbean films. Named “Bud”, “Weis”, and “Er”, the three frogs croak the name of the company in a rhythm that’s oddly catching.
Brad Pitt is in his element in the 2005 Heineken commercial directed by David Fincher (Fight Club, Social Network, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). Strolling out casually to get himself a six-pack of beer, he is blissfully oblivious to the paparazzi and the adoring throngs following him.
A cantankerous but persistently adorable Betty White gets tackled into a muddy puddle while playing football in the 2010 Snickers advertisement directed by Craig Gillespie (I, Tonya). The advertisement follows Snickers’s time-honoured template, in which sugar-and-energy deprived people become cranky and turn into someone else. One meta-reference and a snickers bar later, it turns out that Betty reverts back to being Mike, a spry young man. A little while later, though, hunger turns another hefty player into Abe Vigoda.
No Country for Old Men directors Joel and Ethan Coen’s 2017 Mercedes AMG GT Roadster commercial was a big, burly tribute to the 1969 road drama Easy Rider featuring Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. A group of bikers are engaged in rough fisticuffs at a bar when they are told that their vehicles have been “blocked-in”. Accompanied with the twangs of Steppenwolf’s track Born to Be Wild, the ad also includes an appearance by Fonda himself.