The best (and worst) in Super Bowl ad slapstick humor

Slapstick has been an iconic form of entertainment for a long time (Charlie Chaplin, The Three Stooges, Tom and Jerry) and continues to be a valuable source of comedy that appeals to the masses. We see it in commercials now in addition to TV and movies, and the Super Bowl is often host to several ads featuring physical comedy.

We’ve found a few standout Super Bowl ads (and some that weren’t as good) that feature slapstick. Here are the three best ones:


3. Snickers: Football with Betty White and Abe Vigoda (2010)

The theme of this commercial is that without a Snickers bar, people get hungry and dysfunctional (in this case, they play football like cranky old people). Two players, portrayed by Betty White and Abe Vigoda (did you know he’s still alive?), spend the commercial getting knocked to the ground until offered a Snickers. They then return to the game as twentysomethings. Other Snickers commercials feature similar situations, but none compare to a then 88-year-old woman getting tackled into the mud.

2. Hyundai: CPR (2012)

There’s nothing funny about a heart attack. And there’s nothing funny about your boss having a heart attack right before he tells you the secret to business success. But there is something funny about this guy reviving his boss by repeatedly accelerating and braking to simulate CPR. Maybe it’s the creativity of the driver that we like. Or maybe it’s the boss’s head flopping around from his “compressions.” Yeah, it’s probably that.

1. Doritos: Teasing the dog (2012)

This is a Doritos-style spin on the old Windex commercials featuring the birds who don’t see the window and fly right into it. In this case, though, a mean dog owner tempts his dog with a Doritos chip through a plate-glass window. Viewers may hold their breath as they await impact, but Doritos took the high road with this fan-made spot, reasserting two important life lessons: You have to eat what you dish out, and nothing can stop a Doritos lover from their craving.


And here are three of the commercials that missed the mark:

3. Bud Light: Fist bump is out, slap is in (2007)

Unlike the Budweiser “Wassup” campaign, this did not influence social interactions, and we’re okay with that for several reasons. First, the world doesn’t need another “Wassup.” Second, this ad replaces the fist bump with a slap in the face, so we’re glad that didn’t catch on. This ad was funny, but it wasn’t among the best because it didn’t use the product effectively, like our top three commercials did. Also, there’s a big difference between reviving your boss with your car and slapping him in the face.

2. Snickers: Mechanics kiss (2007)

We faulted Bud Light for not incorporating enough of their product in their ad. This ad does the opposite: Snickers puts their product at the center of a kiss. In the ad, two mechanics accidentally share a Snickers bar, hands-free, which results in a kiss. Ashamed, they try to act manly. The commercial is funny, but Snickers got into trouble for using a homophobic overreaction as a punch line. After a very brief television run, the ad was pulled. Remember, if you make a commercial, make sure you won’t offend any fans with it.

1. Reebok: Terry Tate, Office Linebacker (2003)

Ever wish your office had someone to enforce office etiquette? Meet Terry Tate, Office Linebacker. Tate protects the offices of Felcher & Sons from inconsiderate people with his own kind of justice. The slapstick comedy works because it’s such unexpected behavior in an office setting. However, the ad fails to promote the brand effectively. Did you know when you saw it that the ad was for Reebok? The ads were popular, but brand retention was very poor. If the ad was entertaining, but if know one knows what it promotes, Reebok loses in the long run. This earned the number one spot in the losing bracket because it was the funniest but least effective.

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