Right, it’s a little odd for a pop-culture magazine to rank the greatest shoe commercials. But no other company has so consistently turned televised advertising into art. These 11 ads function as short films—loaded with wit, inspiration, killer music and gorgeous visuals. Why 11? Well, we had a perfectly good list of 10 and then we saw this list, which didn’t have a ton of overlap, but which did remind us of the immortal Bo Knows campaign. So we’ve tacked on one of those for good measure.
11. Bo Jackson — “Yo!” Jackson shouts. “Tennis anyone?” Nice Sonny Bono cameo, too.
10. LaDainian Tomlinson vs. Troy Polamalu — Two athletes embark on a lifelong crash course. Extra credit for using Ennio Morricone’s classic music from The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.
9 (tie). Ronaldinho vs. Tiger Woods — They’re two different spots, but basically the same concept: a pro athlete boggling minds with juggling skills.
7. Jogging on Y2K — Spike Jonze directed this masterful clip about running through the apocalypse.
6. Courage — Soundtracked by The Killers, and featuring split-second moments of greatness and tragedy.
5. USA basketball — A long, poetic ad in which America’s biggest ballers get their practice on while Marvin Gaye sings the entire “Star Spangled Banner.”
4. I am Not a Role Model — Once upon a time, the self-parodying Taco Bell pitchman made decent ads.
3. It’s Gotta Be the Shoes — The most famous of the Mars Blackmon series, in which superfan Spike Lee hangs with Michael Jordan.
2. I am Tiger Woods — Well, he was Tiger Woods anyway.
1. Brazil airport — This 90-sec spot, scored by Sergio Mendes’ “Mais Que Nada,” embodies the joy of the beautiful game.