This is the time of year when everyone looks back at the best Super Bowl commercials of all time. But what about the worst ones? The ones that were so bad they got slammed in the media or started to dominate the conversation at parties over the game itself.
I sifted through the Super Bowl commercials going back to 2000 to find the most awful spots. All of these multimillion-dollar ads left many wondering: How did this even make it past the storyboard into the real-life broadcast?
Here's my countdown of the 10 worst Super Bowl commercials of the past 15 years:
10. Beck's Sapphire (2013)
Early in 2013, Anheuser-Busch rolled out Beck's Sapphire, a pilsner beer that was advertised as "smooth and distinctive." To jump-start sales in the U.S., Anheuser-Busch used one of its many Super Bowl spots on this particular beer. So how did the folks at A-B use their extremely valuable time to promote the beverage? The choice was obvious: a fish swimming around a bottle of the beer singing "No Diggity."
9. Cosentino Silestone Diana Pearl (2005)
One of the rules of Super Bowl advertising is to use as many polarizing stars as possible in a single spot. Here, the Cosentino Group rolls out former Chicago Bears Mike Ditka, Jim McMahon and William "The Refrigerator" Perry -- as well as Dennis Rodman in a bathtub. All of them are claiming to be "Diana Pearl," which leads one to believe that they're watching some sort of commercial for identity theft prevention. In the final seconds, it's revealed that "Diana Pearl" is a type of countertop material that the Cosentino Group distributes. It's hard to put out a Super Bowl commercial that makes absolutely no sense, but this one came pretty close.
8. E-Trade bank robber (2007)
The premise here is simple: Get the point across that putting your money in banks doesn't earn you much interest, so they're essentially stealing from you. How do you best communicate that? Well, I guess someone at E-Trade thought having a bank robbing its own customers would be a good idea. There were other ways to pull this off, especially in the post-9/11 world.
7. GoDaddy shower (2009)
For as horrible and cheesy as GoDaddy Super Bowl ads were, there's little doubt they worked. GoDaddy spent a ton of money on Super Bowl spots, but it helped the company become the leader in website domain name sales. The fact that Danica Patrick didn't get a piece of the $2.25 billion the company sold for in 2011 seems unfair. Out of all the companies on this list, GoDaddy execs would be the only ones to smile at their appearance. Why? Because they purposely made controversial ads so we'd talk about them. "Shower" is the worst. It's about a guy who just bought a domain name from GoDaddy. He shows his friends his website, which shows streaming cam footage from Patrick's shower. Creepy? Check. Gross? Check. Conversation starter at the Super Bowl party? Check.
6. Fiat 500X Viagra (2015)
Looking to jump-start its sales in America, Fiat purchased a one-minute Super Bowl commercial that, including production, cost well over $10 million. The company started with the premise that it wanted the 500X crossover to be seen as a sexy new vehicle -- despite a starting price of $21,000. The ad starts with an older couple in the mood for love, and it somehow leads to a Viagra pill getting into the gas tank of a compact car, which grows into the 500X. Ugh. The tagline: "Bigger, more powerful and ready for action." But here's the kicker: From January to October, Fiat sold 5,634 500X vehicles. With an average net profit of $850 each, the company made $4.8 million on them in the first 10 months of 2015. Not even enough to pay for the commercial.
5. Salesgenie.com pandas (2008)
Every time I view this, I cringe just as much as I did when I watched it for the first time eight years ago. Pandas speaking broken English in a Chinese accent? It offended just about everyone. "We never thought anyone would be offended," said Vinod Gupta, who wrote the commercial and happened to be CEO of Salesgenie's parent company (InfoUSA). "The pandas are Chinese. They don't speak German."
4. Pets.com "If You Leave Me Now" (2000)
Even though Super Bowl spots cost $2.2 million for 30 seconds in 2000, there were 14 dot-com companies hoping to make their names through the big game. One of them was Pets.com, whose mascot was an irritating dog sock puppet. In this ad, the puppet sings Chicago's "If You Leave Me Now" after the owner leaves his dog. A singing sock puppet is annoying. An off-key singing sock puppet is worse. And no, Pets.com, we treat our pets well because we love them, not because we feel guilty. Pets.com went bust less than two years later.
3. General Motors suicide robot (2007)
GM cares about quality. So when a robot drops a screw, he gets fired. He has to work odd jobs, and when no one pays attention to him, he jumps off a bridge, although it might be a dream. Wait, what? After the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention caused a stir, the jumping robot part was edited out for future runs.
2. U.S. Census (2010)
We all understand that government organizations must spend money to do their jobs. But when money is spent recklessly, things do not go well. The U.S. Census Bureau, in an attempt to increase awareness and motivate people to fill out information, decided to spend $2.5 million to buy a Super Bowl spot in 2010. Even the driest commercial explaining how the census saves money when you volunteer your information would have done better than what was aired. If I could tell you what the Christopher Guest-directed spot was about, I would. But it makes no sense.
1. Nationwide dead kid (2015)
This Nationwide ad is No. 1 on the list because it was the worst ad of the social media era. It was so bad it actually put the nation into a momentary funk, and the memes lasted for weeks. Like many executives who had commercials on this list, the guys at Nationwide said they had no clue it would have the reaction it did. Just in case you somehow missed it, there's this cute kid who spends most of the commercial telling us he wouldn't get to do various activities. At the end, he reveals the reason: "I couldn't grow up, because I died from an accident."
Many ripped Nationwide for trying to sell us insurance by scaring us about our children dying. Nationwide, for its part, said it wasn't trying to sell insurance; it was trying to start a conversation about keeping our children safe. But the only conversation we had was about how bad the ad was. Months later, chief marketing officer Matt Jauchius left the company to pursue a new opportunity, according to Nationwide spokesman Jarrett Dunbar.
For what it's worth, Nationwide will not have any ads in this year's Super Bowl, but officials say it's not related to the reaction to last year's spot. Dunbar said the company has instead decided to focus its efforts on its sponsorship of the NFL's Walter Payton Man Of The Year Award. Dunbar said that even with the company's main spokesman, Peyton Manning, playing in Super Bowl 50, Nationwide won't participate in the game's commercials.