Top 13 TV commercials of 2010

Top TV commercials of 2010
At the height of the holiday season, it's hard to remember any commercials other than the ones featuring the constant drone of public-domain Christmas carols. But 2010 was actually a pretty innovative year for the TV ad industry: commercials made superstars out of nobodies, revived careers, and introduced the world to the concept of edible cat litter. Here are thirteen of the most talked-about ads of 2010. 

The Old Spice Guy.

Before February 2010, Isaiah Mustafah was a former NFL player and struggling actor. Then, he starred in a series of commercials (and, later, personalized YouTube videos) for Old Spice, collectively called "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like," and now he's a household name who will appear next year in the Jennifer Aniston movie "Horrible Bosses." Here's how it all started:

Betty White's SuperBowl Snickers Commercial.
Who can say how different the TV landscape would have been in 2010 without the resurgence of Betty White, and it all started with a little Snickers commercial on the biggest TV night of the year:

Jon Hamm for Mercedes.
It was eerie and a bit unsettling to first hear Don Draper's voice shilling for a very real product in 2010. I hope he got paid a lot, though, because he probably sold a bunch of these cars:

Kevin Bacon As Kevin Bacon's Biggest Fan.
In one of the funniest commercials of the year, for Logitech Revue, Bacon played Ivan Cobenk, the world's biggest Kevin Bacon fan. Suddenly, we were all reminded of how funny Bacon can be, especially when he's making fun of himself:

Ken Jeong For Pepto Bismol.
"Community" and "The Hangover" star Ken Jeong broke down barriers this year when he became the first celebrity to shill for a diarrhea medicine. He is a medical doctor still, after all:

The Beautiful Not-Scary Seatbelt PSA.
The folks who made this "wear your seatbelt" reminder eschewed crash scenes and went for a heartfelt piece of video art that can be easily understood by people of all ages and nationalities. And somehow, it reminds us to wear our seatbelts without being scary or preachy:

Conan O'Brien's American Express Commercial.
The genius of Conan's very funny and well-timed American Express commercial is that it also serves as free publicity for Conan's new TBS show. (It's a little jarring to see it playing so often on NBC, though):

Robert Downey Jr. is the new Mr. Peanut.
Surely the star of both the "Sherlock Holmes" and "Iron Man" franchises didn't need the peanut money, but at least he didn't do the Pepto ad:

HBO's "make your own" campaign.
HBO made a good argument for buying their very expensive box sets for your "True Blood" and other HBO series'-loving loved ones this holiday season: it makes more sense than making your own:

World's Best Cat Litter, an actual real commercial.
The ad for "World's Best Cat Litter" was probably very effective with cat-litter-buying consumers. But to get there, they had to make people smell the used cat litter, and also eat the substance the cat litter was made from. Whatever it takes!:

Baby Carrots: "Eat them like junk food!"
Who knows how successful this campaign by the country's carrot growers to get people to treat their healthy product like an indulgent cross between a cheeto and an energy drink, but the ads were certainly ridiculous:

Kenny Powers for K-Swiss Tubes.
Besides introducing "If you don't like them, change your mind" as possibly the greatest ad slogan of the past decade, the ads for K-Swiss tubes did a brilliant thing by letting Danny McBride star (unofficially, but unmistakeably) as his "Eastbound and Down" character Kenny Powers:

Tiger Woods's Father Speaks From the Grave for Nike.
This ad, featuring Tiger Woods looking sad at the camera while his deceased father Earl speaks in voice-over ("Did you learn anything?") was almost universally panned as exploitative and just-plain creepy when it came out in April 2010 (sample critique: "Wow, did Nike just go there?"). But people were talking about it, and that's what Nike wanted, and it's still just as creepy and weird today as it was last spring:

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