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The USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter is an annual survey taken of television commercials by the USA Today newspaper in a live poll during the telecast in the United Statesmarker of the annual professional American football championship game of the National Football League. The survey, began in 1989, uses live response on a zero-to-ten scale (zero being the worst, ten the best) of focus groups based in McLean, Virginiamarker, the newspaper headquarters and one (or more) sites around the country.


The Super Bowl became the must-see for advertisers during the third quarter of the telecast of Super Bowl XVIII on CBS, when Apple Computermarker debuted a one-time-only advertisement for their Macintosh computer titled 1984, directed by Ridley Scott. As the Los Angeles Raiders routed the Washington Redskins, 38-9, the Apple commercial, not the game, was the most-talked about item around watercoolers the very next day. Since then, major advertisers have used the game, paying as much as seven figures (averaging $3 million for one 30-second slot , not including production expenses) to showcase their work and generate buzz that many people tune into television's biggest event of the year just to watch the commercials, not just the actual game. For those reasons, USA Today started the Ad Meter, a poll that gives live responses per second of each commercial. According to the newspaper, ads by rule are limited are those shown during the game - from opening kickoff to the end of the game, excluding those shown at halftime or local commercials - are officially qualified for consideration in the Ad Meter survey.

Past winners

Year Advertiser Ad Description
1989 American Express Actors Jon Lovitz and Dana Carvey (both starring at the time on Saturday Night Live) go to the big game with credit cards - Lovitz with Visa, Carvey with American Express.
1990 Nikemarker Various announcers (Harry Caray among others) call a multisport event with the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan and Bo Jackson.
1991 Diet Pepsi When Coca-Cola pulled a humorous ad in light of the First Iraqi war, Diet Pepsi scored big with Ray Charles and others singing their "You Got the Right One, Baby" jingle.
1992 Nike Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny (calling himself "Hare Jordan") go to Mars and team up to take on an evil basketball team fielded by Marvin the Martian, with the fate of Earth at stake. The spot served as the inspiration for the movie Space Jam.
1993 McDonald's Michael Jordan and Larry Bird play an outrageous game of H-O-R-S-E throughout Chicagomarker for a Big Mac.
1994 Pepsi-Cola A lab chimp turns into a party animal at the beach after drinking soda.
1995 Pepsi-Cola A boy on the beach tries to suck the last drop of Pepsi out of a bottle with a straw, sucking so hard that the backlash pulls him through the straw and into the bottle. His little sister then yells, "Mom, he's done it again!"
1996 Pepsi-Cola A fictional Coke driver takes a can of Pepsi and the whole shelf of cans tumbles onto the floor in a simulated security camera footage, with the Hank Williams song "Your Cheatin' Heart" in the background. This commercial was chosen as the best ever ad in the twenty year history in a special survey of the previous poll winners in 2008.
1997 Pepsi-Cola Computer animated grizzly bears do their Pepsi-inspired version of the Village People's 1970s disco classic YMCA.
1998 Pepsi-Cola A skysurfer does aerial tricks with a goose, and they share a Pepsi afterwards.
1999 Budweiser Two dalmatian puppies are separated at birth, and one becomes the mascot of the Clydesdale-driven beer wagon.
2000 Budweiser Rex the Wonder Dog imagines chasing a Budweiser truck, only to blindly leap headfirst onto a mini-van.
2001 Bud Light Cedric the Entertainer's dream date is ruined when he accidentally shakes a pair of Bud Light bottles which explode all over his girlfriend.
2002 Bud Light A girlfriend entices her beau into bed with Bud Light, but he slides on the satin sheets and flies out the apartment window.
2003 Budweiser Spoofing the instant replay challenge rule, a real zebra reviews a disputed call, holding up a football game between Clydesdale horses. One of the two humans watching calls the "official" a jackass, while the other, apparently oblivious to the epithet, seriously responds that it's a zebra.
2004 Bud Light Two dog trainers outdo one another, until one dog bites the other trainer in the groin. This came in the midst of the aftermath of the controversial halftime show that year.
2005 Bud Light A frightened skydiver making his first jump is enticed with a six-pack of beer, but it only makes the other skydivers on the flight jump after it.
2006 Bud Light Two friends in an adjoining apartment with a refrigerator on a turntable find it to be magical when their icebox is filled by their next-door neighbor with beer.
2007 Budweiser Computer-generated crabs idolize a cooler filled with Bud.
2008 Budweiser Paying tribute to the 1976 Academy Award Best Picture Rocky, a Clydesdale is inspired by a rather unusual personal trainer to become a member of the hitch team for the iconic horse-drawn wagon: its dalmatian mascot.
2009 Doritos In the first ever fan-generated commercial to claim top ranking, two guys use a snow globe to make their wishes come true: one gets his wish, the other... not so much. The ad makers, Joe and David Herbert of Batesville, Indiana, won US $1 million in a promotion sponsored by Doritos owner Frito-Lay.

Multiple winners

  • Anheuser-Buschmarker (Budweiser, Bud Light brands) - 10 (1999-2008)
  • Pepsi-Cola (Pepsi, Diet Pepsi brands, Frito-Lay - Doritos) - 7 (1991, 1994-1998, 2009)
  • Nike - 2 (1990, 1992)

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