12 Underrated Super Bowl Ads From the Past 12 Years

Some great spots you might have forgotten

Will Ferrell's hyperlocal 2012 spot for Old Milwaukee was a true hidden gem.
Headshot of Tim Nudd

With dozens of commercials airing during every Super Bowl, it only makes sense that some good ones occasionally get lost in the shuffle.

So, as we gear up for Super Bowl LI, here’s a look back at 12 Super Bowls spots from the past 12 years that didn’t get quite the attention they should have.

Also, check out Adweek’s full coverage of the ads of Super Bowl LI.


Ameriquest – Surprise Dinner (2005)

Ameriquest stormed the 2005 Super Bowl with four spots from DDB Los Angeles, of which this one was probably the best—using a cat, a knife and spaghetti sauce to memorably illustrate the tagline, “Don’t judge too quickly.”


FedEx – Stick (2006)

FedEx wasn’t around in Neanderthal times, but that doesn’t stop a caveman from getting fired for using a pterodactyl shipper instead. With a classic crowd-pleasing ending. From BBDO New York.


Tide to Go – Interview (2007)

Anyone who thinks it’s funny to talk over someone else will enjoy this amusingly paced spot from Saatchi & Saatchi in New York. Gibberish never sounded so good. (This spot aired on the 2008 Super Bowl, but was created the year before.)


Coca-Cola – It’s Mine (2008)

Parade-balloon versions of Underdog and Stewie from Family Guy battle over a bottle of Coke in this charming spot from Wieden + Kennedy. It wasn’t exactly overlooked, but it got shoved around by that year’s more slapstick ads.


Hulu – Alec in Huluwood (2009)

He’s evil, and proud of it. Alec Baldwin turned in the acting performance of the year in 2009 with this classic, misanthropic spot from Crispin Porter + Bogusky. That’s just how he rolls.


Google – Parisian Love (2010)

A love story crafted entirely from screen shots of Google searches, this was the sleeper of the 2010 game. It was also the spiritual ancestor of the Google Chrome campaign, including the “Dear Sophie” spot, which would captivate viewers the following year. By Google Creative Lab and 1stAveMachine.


NFL – American Family (2011)

A tribute to the American football fan, and the American family, with footage from classic TV shows. Really well done by Grey New York.


Old Milwaukee – Will Ferrell (2012)

This one is cheating a bit, since it wasn’t a national ad. In fact, it was a hyperlocal ad—airing only in North Platte, Neb., of all places. It got some attention at the time (we wrote about it here), but not as much as it should have. It’s a classic spot—so awesomely dumb, and with an inspired media buy.


Samsung – The Next Big Thing (2013)

Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd and the great Bob Odenkirk didn’t even need the LeBron James cameo at the end to have a winner here. Sharp writing and fun performances—particularly the reaction shots from Odenkirk—took this spot over the top. Two of the more enjoyable minutes of the night.


Hyundai – Dad’s Sixth Sense (2014)

A quiet winner from Hyundai, it had everything, from slapstick comedy to a payoff that made perfect sense. Proof that you don’t need 60 seconds (or more) to do a great car commercial.


Loctite – Positive Feelings (2015)

What a strange and memorable commercial from Fallon. You have to love that someone at Loctite saw this and said, “Yeah, that’s $4.5 million well spent.” You have to be nuts to greenlight something like this for the Super Bowl, but Loctite made a name for itself here.


T-Mobile – Restricted Bling (2016)

Of the dozens of celebrities in the Super Bowl 50 ads, Drake’s performance for T-Mobile was the most winning, as he happily submits to comical revisions of “Hotline Bling” from a rival carrier. Two great veteran commercial actors, Brian Huskey and Jerry Lambert, helped bring this one home, too.

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.