Breaking Down This Year's Crop Of Super Bowl Ads NPR's Ailsa Chang talks with Robert Klara, senior editor for Adweek, about the best and worst Super Bowl commercials — which are often more memorable than the big game itself.
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Breaking Down This Year's Crop Of Super Bowl Ads

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Breaking Down This Year's Crop Of Super Bowl Ads

Breaking Down This Year's Crop Of Super Bowl Ads

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AILSA CHANG, HOST:

All right, let's admit it - some of you are not watching the Super Bowl for the epic battle between the 49ers and the Chiefs or for J. Lo at halftime or for even the chance to stuff your face with nachos and wings and more nachos. Many of you are watching the Super Bowl for the Super Bowl ads.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) Hello?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) Whassup (ph)?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) Whassup?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) Whassup?

CHANG: Super Bowl commercials are often more memorable than the game itself. And we have Robert Klara, senior editor for Adweek, on the line with us to talk about the best and the worst Super Bowl ads ever.

Hey there.

ROBERT KLARA: Hi, Ailsa.

CHANG: OK, so let's go down memory lane a little bit. What have been some of the best, like, most epic ads ever?

KLARA: Well, if we're going to put any kind of list together, we have to doff our caps to Apple's 1984 ad that aired in 1984 and introduced the Macintosh computer. One of the recent ads that I would choose as among my best would be the ad for Always, which was called "Like a Girl," and it aired in 2015.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) Yes, I kick like a girl, and I swim like a girl. And I walk like a girl, and I wake up in the morning like a girl because I am a girl.

KLARA: I think it made Always look very much ahead of the curve. You know, obviously, Budweiser is one of the largest advertisers in the Super Bowl, and they have a string of hits, including the "Bud Bowl," which started in 1989. Those were the stop-motion beer bottles that played a football game.

CHANG: Right (laughter).

KLARA: The "Budweiser Frogs."

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #4: (As character) Bud...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #5: (As character) Wei (ph)...

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #6: (As character) Ser (ph).

CHANG: I love those.

KLARA: And then, of course, the unparalleled "Whassup?" of...

(LAUGHTER)

CHANG: Whassup?

KLARA: ...Of 1999. And there's no way that I can say it like those gentlemen did.

CHANG: (Laughter).

KLARA: But we should mention the very memorable Coca-Cola ad from 1980, the Pittsburgh Steelers' "Mean" Joe Greene. A little kid fan catches up with him and gives him his Coke.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TOMMY OKON: (As character) Really, you can have it.

JOE GREENE: (As "Mean" Joe Greene) OK. Thanks.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing) Coke and a smile.

KLARA: And it coincided with "Mean" Joe's smile really, really well. And I think it also surprised people that "Mean" Joe Greene wasn't all that mean.

CHANG: All right, now I want to hear about the abject failures.

KLARA: Well, I should mention the Nationwide infamous "Boy" commercial. The funny thing about that is it seemed like it was heading in a very heartwarming direction.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #7: (As character) I couldn't grow up because I died from an accident.

CHANG: Oh, my God.

KLARA: Yeah, it was a record-scratch moment. The backlash over this was intense. And in fact, it was so bad that Nationwide ended up issuing a statement later that night. And then I would have to include the 1973 spot with Joe Namath and Farrah Fawcett, the title of which is "Let Noxzema Cream Your Face."

CHANG: (Laughter).

KLARA: It's just, basically, Joe Namath allows Farrah to put shaving cream on his face.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

FARRAH FAWCETT: (Singing) Let Noxzema cream your face so your razor won't.

JOE NAMATH: (As Joe Namath) Whoo.

KLARA: It will make your eyeballs bleed.

CHANG: (Laughter).

KLARA: And I recommend it if you're ready for it.

CHANG: (Laughter) Robert Klara, senior editor for Adweek, thank you very much for talking to us today.

KLARA: It was my pleasure, Ailsa.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE MOHAWKS' "PEPSI")

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