With 30 seconds of Super Bowl ad time going for as much as $4 million, companies want to get the biggest bang for their buck. One way to do that? Get yourself a celebrity endorser; then put the person in a memorable situation that people will be talking about Monday morning. Psy (promoting Wonderful Pistachios), Amy Poehler (Best Buy), Kaley Cuoco (Toyota), Dwayne Johnson (“Got Milk?”) and Tracy Morgan (MiO Fit) are among this year’s most anticipated endorsers. To set the bar high, here are ten celebrity commercial appearances from past Super Bowls that had people talking well after the confetti fell.
Betty White for Snickers
The “Golden Girls” star has been everywhere the last few years — including movie roles, hosting “Saturday Night Live,” and getting her own primetime prank series on NBC. White credits one appearance for her career revival: a Snickers commercial during the 2010 Super Bowl. “That’s what really started the little surge,” the actress told AdAge in 2010, talking about the commercial where she and fellow elder actor Abe Vigoda get into a game of pickup football.
Jay-Z for Budweiser
For Budweiser Select, the company brought in football royalty Don Shula to square off against one of rap’s biggest stars. The two played a confusing-to-follow, futuristic, holographic football game that was shown on one of Hova’s flat-screen TVs. It’s good to know that even in the future, Jay-Z is still the coolest guy in the room, and two-time Super Bowl champ Shula is as competitive as ever.
Cindy Crawford for Pepsi
In 1992, which might have been the apex of Crawford’s modeling career, Pepsi used her to perfection in its Super Bowl spot. The beauty pulled up to a dusty gas station and purchased a Pepsi as some nearby boys stopped playing to lean on a fence and ogle … the new can design.
Matthew Broderick for Honda
Some fans were horrified when they found out Broderick was reprising the titular role from the ’80s classic “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” for a car commercial, but the postgame consensus was that the ad was pretty great. Honda said they packed in two dozen tributes to “Bueller” in the extended version of the ad, and while a CR-V might not be a Ferrari 250 GT California, it’s still fun to watch a professional hooky player at work.
Megan Fox for Motorola
Megan Fox taking a bubble bath? Not a terrible start to a commercial. What made the Motorola spot even more interesting was that they had to bring in a double — for the actress’s thumbs. Fox suffers from brachydactyly, a condition that results in clubbed thumbs.
David Letterman, Oprah Winfrey, and Jay Leno for “The Late Show with David Letterman”
Somehow kept under wraps until it hit the air was a 2010 meeting that improbably saw late-night rivals Letterman and Leno on the same couch as daytime queen Winfrey. Letterman and Leno’s feud goes back to the early ’90s when the two competed for the “Tonight Show” hosting gig, but it reheated when Letterman sided with Conan O’Brien in an ugly feud over NBC late-night positioning. But Letterman invited Winfrey (who had joined him in a 2007 ad) and Leno, and under a veil of secrecy that included Leno wearing a fake mustache in Manhattan, they pulled off the surreptitious taping and surprised America.
Michael J. Fox for Diet Pepsi
Pepsi used Michael J. Fox for a series of commercials in the ’80s, but the 1987 entry might be the best. Fox went to get his attractive new neighbor a soda, only to find that he had foolishly put an empty 2-liter bottle back in the fridge. This led to a madcap trek down a fire escape and across traffic in the pouring rain, with Fox finding that his quest wasn’t over just yet.
Britney Spears for Pepsi
In 2002, Pepsi wanted to showcase its generations of fans, so they had Spears — at the peak of her popularity — step into ads set in 1958 and the intervening years up to the present. The black-and-white spot of Spears singing and dancing in a soda fountain kicked off the night of commercials.
Justin Timberlake for Pepsi
In 2008, Pepsi got another former Mouseketeer in an ad, using the singer/actor/beloved “Saturday Night Live” host to promote Pepsi Stuff. The spot found Timberlake being pulled across town by a mysterious force and incorporated a whole lot of physical comedy and cameos by Andy Samberg and Tony Romo.
Eminem and Clint Eastwood for Chrysler
Chrysler went for a combination of grit and class in 2010 with “Imported from Detroit,” as Eminem drove through the Motor City, eventually joining a gospel choir onstage as they sang the opening notes of “Lose Yourself.” Two years later, Chrysler again had a unique take, this time with Eastwood discussing how it was halftime in America. The Eastwood ad generated a lot of interest, angering Karl Rove and spawning an “SNL” parody.