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The Bowlies: A Hall of Fame for Super Bowl Commercials

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By Elijah Bates

Hello there, my friends, and welcome to The Bowlies! If you’re not familiar with the concept (which you couldn’t be, given that it only existed in my head until a couple of days ago), allow me to introduce you. You’ve heard of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, right? The one that’s physically located in Canton, Ohio, where great players in NFL history are carefully selected by a credible, 44-person committee? Well, this is absolutely nothing like that.

No, The Bowlies are much more in tune with WWE’s Hall of Fame, where inductees are chosen at random, to be celebrated in a building that doesn’t exist. From inside its hallowed non-halls, we single out epic moments in Super Bowl commercial history, from food and booze to cars and controversy. Once inducted, these ads will be celebrated online as a legend, from now until whenever this CBS-affiliated website is shut down and forgotten…fun, right?

Without further adieu, let’s introduce the inductees!

Movies: Independence Day
Sure, by this point, most of us have watched the White House destroyed at least a half-dozen times. But in 1996, seeing the President’s residence explode after being zapped by aliens was as exciting as cinema could get. And that was before a good lot of you even knew who or what a Jeff Goldblum was too. Thus, Independence Day becomes legend as the first ever inductee…

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Booze: Bud Light Starring “Jackie Moon”
When it comes to booze, The Bowlies could dedicate an entire wing to the cause. Yet while there are TONS of great beer spots that have aired on Super Bowl Sunday over the years, not all have held up well over the course of time. With that in mind, why not just go for the one featuring Will Ferrell, regardless of whether it doubles as an ad for one of his less funny films?


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Food: Snickers Starring Betty White
She might be a bit of a cliché at this point, but given that this spot turned Betty White into a household name for millions of people who would’ve never otherwise known how awesome The Golden Girls was, this inductee seems like a foregone conclusion. And if seeing an old woman tackled into the mud still doesn’t make you happy, at least Abe Vigoda shows up at the end.


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Condiments: Tabasco Sauce
Fact: as hot sauce goes, it’s a foregone conclusion that Tapatio trumps all, not just with a piece of pizza, but on everything. However, even Cholula addicts, as sad as they might be, would agree that Tabasco struck gold with its exploding mosquito. The newest member of the Bowlies, it’s easily the best condiment commercial since the Matt Le Blanc Heinz ads of the late 80s.


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Controversy: Holiday Inn Starring “Bob Johnson”
Tim Tebow, Ashley Madison and whoever GoDaddy’s girl of the month might be ain’t got nothin’ on Kenny Bania! This one seems kind of tame in 2012, but back in 1997, Holiday Inn was really laying it all down on the table with such a controversial commercial. Plus, any spot relying on a Seinfeld bit player like Steve Hytner will always be a candidate for induction here.


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Crowdsourced: Doritos “Crash the Super Bowl”
True, crowdsourcing is a cheap way for companies to sucker you into doing their dirty work, but seriously, how else are you gonna be able to get your funny in front of the rest of the world like this? No one knows that notion better than Doritos, who turned their million-dollar contest into a prize much more inviting than any McDonald’s Monopoly ploy could ever dream of being.


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Cars: Audi R8 “Godfather”
In terms of commercials, cars are like beer: they’re so plentiful that it’s hard to single out one. Different than booze though, the auto industry is so damned concerned with coming across as cool one year that they end up outdated, dorky and pathetic 365 days later. Thankfully for The Bowlies, there are car companies out there like Audi who can pump out a good Godfather spoof.


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Sodas: Coke “Chicago Bears”
Years before they used silicon starlets or Justin Timberlake to sell, soda companies had football. And while “Mean” Joe Green’s might be the more iconic Super Bowl spot, this year’s Bowly goes to the 1986 “New Coke Vs. Classic Coke” commercial, starring Jim McMahon and William “The Refrigerator” Perry. “You gotta keep a lotta Coke in The Refrigerator!” Damn right we do…


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Of course, there’s only so much room for inductees this year. Have a favorite that didn’t get inducted? Let us know in the comments below!

When he’s not pumping out pieces for CBS, Elijah Bates provides creative direction for a social media company in Venice Beach. Otherwise, you’ll find him surfing up and down the California coast, evading stingrays like trips to the dentist.

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