The Super Bowl stands out as a pinnacle event in the sports calendar. However, its significance extends beyond just a championship football match. It transitions into an informal celebration, encapsulating a festival ambiance accompanied by an iconic half-time performance. Globally, it captivates millions of viewers, even reaching those typically disinterested in sports. Unsurprisingly, this vast viewership has catapulted its commercial slots to prime television real estate.
Ad space during the Super Bowl is notoriously expensive. To put it in perspective, this year’s data revealed that advertisers shelled out an average of $7 million for a mere 30-second slot during the Super Bowl LVII broadcast. Remarkably, since the early 1980s, these advertisements have gained momentum, almost rivaling the game’s anticipation.
These commercials often flaunt celebrity endorsements, visionaries from Hollywood, and a gamut of emotions – from humor to tearjerkers. This fierce rivalry among brands is all in pursuit of the coveted title: Best Super Bowl Commercial of the Night.
In the spirit of this competition, an extensive review of past Super Bowl advertisements from the last five decades was undertaken. The outcome? A curated list of the top 20 Super Bowl commercials ever. buckle up, and keep tissues at hand for those unexpectedly poignant moments
Table of Contents
1. Apple (1984)
Apple’s inventive Super Bowl commercial unveiled the Macintosh computer to the world under the artistic direction of Hollywood heavyweight Ridley Scott and with inspiration from George Orwell’s dystopian universe. Airing uniquely during the 1984 game’s third quarter, this Super Bowl commercial marked a groundbreaking moment in advertising. It not only signaled a new epoch but also etched its name among the best Super Bowl ads ever created.
Apple’s ingenuity in advertising doesn’t end here; the brand also shines in our collection of the finest video ads, reflecting a mastery that transcends categories.
2. Wendy’s Legendary “Where’s The Beef?” (1984)
Long before trending on Twitter, Wendy’s was roasting competitors in their 1984 Super Bowl commercial. The ad featured a feisty elderly lady inspecting an oversized burger bun and bluntly asking, “Where’s the beef?”
This simple yet brilliant tagline called out fast food chains for skimping on meat. Wendy’s suggested:
- Other burgers are just fluffy buns with barely any beef.
- Our burgers actually have plenty of real, juicy beef you can see and taste.
Practically overnight, “Where’s the beef?” became a national catchphrase for anything lacking substance. Through clever writing, Wendy’s succeeded in positioning itself as the place to get mouthwatering burgers stacked with beef.
Nearly 40 years later, this iconic Super Bowl ad and its memorable tagline are still widely referenced in pop culture. It exemplifies how just three words cemented Wendy’s brand as hamburgers with meat, not just a bun.
3. Snickers – Betty White (2010)
In 2010, Snickers created one of the most memorable Super Bowl commercials, casting comedic genius Betty White as a famished football player. The now-famous line, “You’re not you when you’re hungry,” was birthed in this ad and has since become inseparable from the chocolate brand, resonating for over a decade. Snickers didn’t stop there; the brand also found a spot in our compilation of the top Valentine’s Day ads.
4. Coca-Cola – Hey Kid, Catch (1980)
In 1980, Coca-Cola debuted an iconic Super Bowl commercial starring “Mean” Joe Greene that showed the football star’s soft side. After a tough game, a young fan timidly offers Greene his Coca-Cola bottle. Greene returns the kindness by tossing the kid his jersey and saying, “Hey kid, catch.” This heartwarming ad spotlighted Coca-Cola bringing people together and became a classic, spawning countless parodies. Decades later, the ad remains an all-time fan favorite, demonstrating Coca-Cola’s marketing brilliance in capturing an unforgettable human moment through creative storytelling.
5. Always’ #LikeaGirl (2015)
Always’ #LikeaGirl campaign in 2015 became a beacon of inspiration that resonated across generations. This game-changing ad challenged the stereotypes associated with doing something “like a girl,” transforming them into expressions of strength. Created to address the significant decline in self-confidence that girls often face at puberty, this ad transcended ordinary Super Bowl commercials, turning heads and sparking conversations. It’s a celebrated gem and a triumph in both creativity and social impact.
6. Amazon – Alexa Loses Her Voice (2018)
In the annals of the best Super Bowl commercials, Amazon’s 2018 star-studded ad shines brightly. When Alexa loses her voice, celebrity replacements like Gordon Ramsay, Rebel Wilson, Cardi-B, and Anthony Hopkins step in, only to comically fail at the task. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’s on-screen reassurance adds to the hilarity, making it even more memorable ad.
7. Tide – It’s A Tide Ad (2018)
Many people liked the 2018 Tide Super Bowl commercial, which featured David Harbour from “Stranger Things.” He humorously twists the definition of a Tide advertisement by claiming that any commercial featuring clean clothing is, in essence, a Tide ad. This wit could make it the most entertaining commercial in Super Bowl history.
8. Nike – Hare Jordan (1993)
In 1993, the iconic commercial, featuring Michael Jordan and the cartoon character Bugs Bunny was their first collaboration and set the stage for “Space Jam.” This innovative combination of live action and animation showed the dynamic combo dominating their opponents while sporting the brand new Nike Air Jordans.
9. Budweiser – Puppy Love (2014)
The adorable story of a dog and a horse who become friends in a Super Bowl commercial for Budweiser in 2014 won over viewers’ hearts. This intriguing commercial, set to Passenger’s calming music, takes viewers on an emotional journey that ends on a happy note.
10. Pepsi – Cindy Crawford (1992)
In 1992, Pepsi created an iconic Super Bowl ad starring supermodel Cindy Crawford. She wore a white tank and daisy dukes while sensuously sipping a Pepsi beside a red Lamborghini, spotlighting their sleek new can design. This immensely popular commercial cemented Crawford’s supermodel fame and was ingrained in pop culture.
Proving its timeless appeal decades later, Pepsi recreated the classic ad for the 2018 Super Bowl with Crawford and her son, delivering a fun, nostalgic version. Pepsi demonstrated marketing brilliance by transforming their can redesign into an unforgettable pop culture moment.
11. Volkswagen’s “The Force” (2011)
A young boy dressed as Darth Vader attempts to use the Force to start his father’s Volkswagen Passat. However, it is actually his father using the keyless remote to start the car. The commercial is a humorous take on the Star Wars franchise, and it was a huge success, becoming one of the most popular Super Bowl commercials of all time.
12. Google – Parisian Love (2009)
In an emotional commercial, a man uses Google Search to embark on a Parisian adventure to find his true love. Through finding a job, learning French, and impressing a local woman, Google aids him in realizing his dream, culminating in a romantic Eiffel Tower kiss.
13. McDonalds – The Showdown (1993)
McDonald’s 1993 Super Bowl ad starring Michael Jordan and Larry Bird is pure marketing genius. The commercial shows the basketball legends humorously competing in a shootout over Jordan’s Big Mac meal. As they repeatedly miss shots, Jordan tells viewers they may want to just order a Big Mac now since the face-off “might take a while.”
This funny ad creatively promoted McDonald’s signature burger by pairing it with the era’s biggest sports stars. Their playful on-court rivalry spotlighted the Big Mac in an instantly iconic Super Bowl commercial.
14. Coinbase – QR Code (2022)
In Coinbase’s 2022 Super Bowl ad, there was nothing about a storyline but a colorful bouncing QR code. It may have lacked a star-studded cast or charming animals, but its popularity was undeniable. So much so that it crashed their app! The scanning of the QR code led viewers to Coinbase’s promotional site for a limited-time offer.
15. Snickers – Marv Levy (1996)
The humorous Snickers ad from the 1996 Super Bowl featured football coach Marv Levy trying to motivate his team in an extended session in the locker room. As the Buffalo Bills players start losing steam, the ad cutely offers a Snickers bar as a solution to keep them focused. This super funny moment creatively promoted Snickers as the candy bar to satisfy hunger and help you keep going. By pairing their product with popular NFL figures, Snickers scored big with a lighthearted sports-themed ad that viewers still remember.
16. Fabletics Men – Outfits For Every Occasion (2023)
Fabletics created a hilarious 2021 Super Bowl ad on a budget. The spot features actor Kevin Hart doing stand-up comedy over a black screen, emphasizing Fabletics’ amazing deals on men’s clothes. By pairing their deals with Hart’s humor, Fabletics elevates a basic ad into entertaining content.
The commercial succeeds by letting Hart’s natural comedy talents shine while highlighting the brand’s affordable men’s athleisure wear. The simple formula makes viewers laugh while spreading awareness of Fabletics’ deals in a creative, memorable way.
17. Charmin – Snap (2004)
Charmin amazingly used football as a theme in their 2007 Super Bowl ad. The commercial shows the toilet paper brand’s bear mascot humorously distracting focused players at a critical moment in the game. This funny ad creatively conveyed how Charmin toilet paper is so irresistibly soft and comfortable that it can divert even football players when the focus is vital.
By pairing their ultra-soft product with distracted footballers, Charmin memorably highlighted their toilet paper’s comforting qualities in an amusing way viewers enjoyed.
18. Sorta Pharmacy – Esurance (2015)
Since the hit TV series Breaking Bad premiered, Walter White has become a globally recognized chemist character. Capitalizing on his fame, E-Surance featured White working at a local pharmacy counter in their 2015 Super Bowl commercial.
The ad succeeded in surprising viewers by bringing back actor Bryan Cranston as the iconic White. Casting this beloved character as a pharmacy employee was a creative way for E-Surance to grab Super Bowl viewers’ attention and highlight their insurance services.
19. Old Spice – The Man Your Man Could Smell Like (2010)
Old Spice pioneered their wildly popular “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” ad campaign during the 2010 Super Bowl. The humorous commercial featured a muscular protagonist promoting Old Spice body wash. He promises ladies that their men can be as manly as him if they switch to Old Spice.
This amazing ad kickstarted a never-ending campaign for the brand centered around their amusing spokesman. Old Spice kept the popular format in subsequent Super Bowl ads, further promoting their men’s grooming products with humor and hyper-masculinity. The ads succeeded in becoming pop-culture sensations.
20. Reebok – Terry Tate (2003)
In 2003, Reebok created an iconic Super Bowl ad featuring famed fictional football player Terry Tate, who tackles colleagues in an office setting. The humorous commercial shows Tate aggressively tackling coworkers to improve productivity as a new Reebok employee.
As Tate slams into his coworkers, his boss praises the football star’s unique approach to improving office culture and performance. Reebok succeeded in using Terry Tate’s comedic athletic style to highlight their brand in a memorable way that entertained Super Bowl viewers.