WHERE'S THE BEEF? Office linebacker? Cindy Crawford? As part of our countdown to Super Bowl 50, SI.com is rolling out a series—Untold Super Bowl Stories—of the overlooked, forgotten or just plain strange history of football's biggest game. The stories debut Nov. 4 with new pieces available every Wednesday at SI.com/SuperBowlStories, including a behind-the-scenes look at the Bud Bowl ads and their unexpected impact. Here is SI's countdown of the most influential commercials in Super Bowl history.
When I Grow Up1999
Monster.com's sequence of kids saying "I want to claw my way up to middle management" and other precocious commentary on corporate culture provided a counterpoint to the onslaught of commercials featuring juvenile humor.
Bud Bowl I1989
The stop-animation showdown between long-neck bottles of Bud and Bud Light over five spots peppered throughout the game showed that a brand could dominate the broadcast with a series of related ads that couldn't air on any other occasion.
A kid dressed as Darth Vader uses the force to start his family's VW. It's cute, funny and typical Super Bowl stuff, but the ad touched a cross-generational nerve that made it go viral—it remains the most shared SB spot—and highlighted the value of secondary viewing. It was a happy marriage of execution and timing.
Hey Kid, Catch1979
When Mean Joe Greene, the rugged, appropriately nicknamed defensive tackle, tossed his jersey to a little scamp who'd gifted the Steelers' star a bottle of Coke, it launched a generation of heart-tugging spots intended to make football fans sniffle—and their husbands, too.
Apple's revolutionary ad featuring a sledgehammer-wielding woman smashing the projected image of an autocrat proselytizing to a roomful of drones presaged the tech movement, as viewers forced to read Orwell in high school nodded knowingly.
THEY SAID IT
"I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT THE HELL ELSE TO DO."
West Virginia coach explaining why he high-fived Trevone Boykin after the TCU quarterback went on an ankle-breaking scramble during the Horned Frogs' 40--10 victory in Fort Worth last Saturday.
SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE
Free-agent 320-pound quarterback Jared Lorenzen offered his services to the Jets via Twitter, posting "U know you want to."
YOUTUBE.COM (MONSTER.COM, BUD BOWL, THE FORCE, 1984)
COURTESY OF COCA-COLA (HEY KID)
AUSTIN MCAFEE/CAL SPORT MEDIA/AP (HOLGORSEN)
FRANK VICTORES/USA TODAY SPORTS/GANNETT (LORENZEN)