Table of Contents
- GET THE ET NEWSLETTER
- Apple, “1984” (1984)
- Pepsi, “We Will Rock You” (2004)
- Pepsi, “Cindy Crawford” (1992)
- Coca-Cola, “Hey Kid, Catch!” (1979)
- Volkswagen, “The Force” (2011)
- McDonald’s, “The Showdown” (1993)
- Snickers, “Game” (2010)
- FedEx, “The Lollipop Guild” (2000)
- Pepsi, “Joy of Pepsi” (2001)
- Pepsi, “Now and Then” (2002)
- Old Spice, “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” (2010)
- Always, “#LikeaGirl” (2015)
- NFL, “Touchdown Celebrations to Come” (2018)
- Coca-Cola, “Hilltop Reunion” 1990
- Nike, “Hare Jordan” (1993)
- Xerox, “Monks” (1977)
- Budweiser, “The Extra Point” (1996)
- Late Show with David Letterman (2010)
- Frito-Lay, “Nuzzle and Nibble” (1997)
- Pepsi and Lucasfilm, “Darth Vader, (1997)
- Tabasco, “Mosquito” (1998)
- FedEx, “We Apologize” (1998)
- Bud Light, “Paper or Plastic” (1999)
- Budweiser, “Clydesdale Respect” (2002)
- Kia, “The Truth” (2012)
- Snickers, “The Brady Bunch” (2015)
- Coca-Cola, “It’s Mine” (2008)
- Kia, “Space Babies” (2013)
- NFL, “The 100-Year Game” (2019)
- Budweiser, “Clydesdale Foal” (2013)
- BMW, “Newfangled Idea” (2015)
- Esurance, “Sorta Pharmacy” (2015)
- “It’s a Tide Ad/It’s Another Tide Ad” (2018)
- PepsiCo, “Doritos Blaze vs Mountain Dew Ice: Battle” (2018)
- Budweiser, “Frogs” (1995)
- PS2, “Future” (2001)
- Squarespace, “John Malkovich” (2017)
- Amazon Alexa, “Ordering Dog Food” (2019)
- Audi, “The Chase” (2009)
- Mastercard, “Errands” (2004)
- Subaru, “New Subaru Brat” (1982)
- Amazon, “Alexa Loses Her Voice” (2018)
- Budweiser, “Which Game?” (2000)
- Denny’s, “Thugs” (2009)
- NFL, “Super Bowl Babies Choir” (2016)
- Heineken, “Beer Run” (2005)
- Mercedes-Benz, “Soul” (2013)
- Kia Motors, “How You Like Me Now” (2010)
- Microsoft, “We All Win” (2019)
- Doritos, “Chance the Rapper x Backstreet Boys” (2019)
- 15 Funniest Super Bowl Car Commercials Of All Time
- Honda: “A New Truck to Love”
- Hyundai: “Unpleasant Moments”
- VW: “The Force”
- Hyundai: “First Date”
- Bridgestone: “Reply All”
- Toyota: “The Longest Chase”
- Chevrolet: “Happy Grad”
- Hyundai: “Ryanville”
- Chevrolet: “Soap”
- Ford: “Green Light”
- Kia: “Walken Closet”
- Audi: “Green Police”
- General Motors: “Robot”
- Acura: “Transactions”
- Kia: “Hero’s Journey”
- YOU MAY LIKE
- 1979 – Coke: “Hey Kid, Catch”
- 1984 – Wendy’s: Where’s the Beef
- 1984 – Apple: “1984”
- 1992 – Pepsi: Cindy Crawford
- 1993 – McDonald’s: H.O.R.S.E
- 1993: Nike: Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny
- 1995 – Budweiser: Frogs
- 1998 – Tabasco: Mosquito
- 1999 – Monster.com: When I Grow Up
- 2000 – E-Trade: Monkey
- 2010 – Snickers: You’re Not You When You’re Hungry
- 2010 – Old Spice: The Man You Can Smell Like
- 2011 – Volkswagen: The Force
- 2012 – Chrysler: Halftime in America
- 2015 – Always: Like a Girl
- 2018 – NFL: Dirty Dancing with Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr.
- The best Super Bowl commercials ever
- 02. “1984”/Apple (1984)
- 03. “Wassup”/Budweiser (1999)
- 04. “The Force”/Volkswagen (2011)
- 05. “So God made a Farmer”/ Ram Trucks (2013)
- Coca-Cola: “Mean Joe Greene” (1979)
- Apple: “Introduce Macintosh” (1984)
- Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and McDonald’s: “The Showdown” (1993)
- Pepsi: “Nothing Like a Pepsi” (1996)
- Tabasco: “Mosquito” (1998)
- Doritos: “3D Doritos” (1998)
- Monster.com: “When I Grow Up” (1999)
- Terry Tate and Reebok (2003)
- Beyoncé, P!nk, Britney Spears and Pepsi (2004)
- Betty White and Snickers (2010)
- Justin Bieber, Ozzy Osbourne and Best Buy (2011)
- Kim Kardashian and T Mobile (2015)
- Cardi B, Gordon Ramsay, Anthony Hopkins, Rebel Wilson and Amazon Alexa (2018)
- 10 Best Super Bowl Halftime Shows
- It’s a Tide Ad, Tide (2018)
- I’d Like To Buy the World a Coke, Coca-Cola (1971)
- Up for Whatever, Budweiser (2014)
- 1984, Apple (1984)
- Hey Kid, Catch, Coca-Cola (1979)
- Secret Society, Avocados From Mexico (2017)
- Whassup, Budweiser (1999)
- Crazy Legs, Levi’s (2002)
- Baby, E-Trade (2008)
- Cindy Crawford, Pepsi (1992)
- The Force, Volkswagen (2011)
- Puppy Love, Budweiser (2014)
- Wise Guy, Pepsi (1990)
- What makes a great TV commercial or video ad?
- Funniest Commercials
- Animated Commercials
- Weird Commercials
- Emotional & Touching Commercials
- Best Super Bowl Commercials
For nearly as long as there’s been a Super Bowl, the commercials that air during the monumental event’s ad breaks have been some of the biggest, most star-studded and influential commercials to ever be broadcast.
Because of the sheer number of viewers tuning in to watch the big game, networks airing the Super Bowl have been able to charge advertisers exorbitant rates. In 2019, the cost of a 30-second ad slot ranged from $5.1 million to $5.3 million, and that’s not including the cost of making the ad itself.
So, to make sure their millions don’t go to waste, companies go all-out trying to make the funniest, most emotional or most outrageous ads to generate buzz, and over the years, some companies have been remarkably more successful than others.
In celebration of the slew of high-profile, celebrity-filled ads headed our way at this year’s big game, we’re taking a look back at the greatest Super Bowl ads of all time — many of which went on to leave indelible marks in pop culture and are fondly remembered decades later.
Old Spice: “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like”
Old Spice changed the advertising game with this brilliant, kinetic and hilarious campaign that aired during Super Bowl XLIV in 2010. Starring Isaiah Mustafa as The Man Your Man Could Smell Like, the commercial begins with the suave, shirtless hero standing in a bathroom, before the room falls away to reveal he’s actually on a beach, and before you know it, “I’m on a horse.” The ad cemented itself in popular culture and not only led to dozens of follow-up ads, but innumerable parodies.
Coca-Cola: “Hey Kid, Catch!”
As part of the soda titan’s wholesome, Americana-packed late 1970s ad campaign, “Have a Coke and a Smile,” this iconic ad — which famously aired during Super Bowl XIV in 1980, despite debuting in late 1979 — starred the Pittsburgh Steelers’ “Mean” Joe Greene who is offered a bottle of Coke by a young fan after sustaining an injury during a big game. After drinking the soda, Greene makes the kid’s day by throwing him his game jersey. It’s simple, it’s iconic and is ingrained in TV history.
Volkswagen: “The Force”
By mixing an adorable child, a loving dad and Star Wars, Volkswagen hit all the right notes with this sweet and funny commercial for their new Passat. The ad, which premiered during Super Bowl XLV in 2011, features a young child in full Darth Vader costume trying to use his Force powers on different objects around his house. He eventually ends up in the driveway and is stunned when it seems like he successfully used the Force to magically start his dad’s car — while in reality, his parents were watching through the kitchen window and his father had clicked a remote key button, leaving his little boy stunned.
Bud Light & HBO: “Joust”
While this ad hasn’t had to stand the test of time like many other iconic Super Bowl commercials, its tonal blend of comedy and gritty darkness makes it unlike anything viewers had seen before. Airing during Super Bowl LIII in 2019, the commercial begins as an ad for Bud Light and features the Bug Knight — a knight in blue-and-silver armor adorned with the beer’s logo, competing in a jousting tournament. The goofiness of the ad takes a hard left turn into terror, however, when he’s defeated by a towering opponent implied to be The Mountain from Game of Thrones, who proceeds to crush his skull before dragons descend on the tournament and rain fire on everyone. Halfway through, the goofy Bud Light ad became a startling GoT ad, and no one was ready for it.
McDonald’s: “The Showdown”
It’s hard to imagine two bigger sports stars of their day appearing together in a commercial, but McDonald’s managed to get Michael Jordan and Larry Bird to face off in this beloved commercial spot that first aired, in two parts, during Super Bowl XXVII in 1993. The simple set-up sees Bird challenging Jordan to a shoot-off for his Big Mac, and the loser has to watch the winner eat. After neither manages to one-up the other, Jordan turns to the camera and jokes, “I think we’re gonna be here a while, I suggest you go get a Big Mac.”
If you really want your Super Bowl commercial to stand out, one way to help make that happen is to hire Ridley Scott to direct it. This flat-out legendary ad — which aired nationally only once during Super Bowl XVIII in 1984 — was inspired by the dystopian world of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four and features a Big Brother-esque character speaking to a room full of gray-clad seemingly brainwashed minions. Then, a woman dressed in bright white and orange runs into the dour, gray, industrial room and hurls a sledgehammer through the giant screen. The message: Apple Computers are coming to save the world from homogenized conformity. Irony aside, the ad has gone on to become one of the most acclaimed commercials of all time.
Snickers: “Betty White”
This ad launched Snickers’ “You’re not you when you’re hungry” campaign and is credited with revitalizing the brand’s entire image. The ad aired during Super Bowl XLIV in 2010, and it featured a group of people playing flag football on a muddy field. One player named Mike, played by Betty White, gets tackled hard. After getting up, White’s character is chided for “playing like Betty White,” to which she shoots back, “That’s not what your girlfriend says!” As it turns out, all Mike needed to regain his energy was a Snickers bar. The ad was a huge hit, and it’s almost entirely because White is a comedic national treasure.
Budweiser: “Puppy Love”
This one commercial made millions of Super Bowl fans yell at no one in particular, “No, I’m not crying! You’re the one who’s crying! Don’t look at me!” This deeply touching ad pulled at the heartstrings of everyone watching Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014, and it tells the story of the bond of friendship between a puppy and a Clydesdale horse that knows no bounds. Whether the goal was to take people on an emotional journey or simply get people to drink away their feelings, it’s an undeniably effective commercial.
Wendy’s: “Where’s the Beef?”
During Super Bowl XVIII in 1984, advertising history was made when three octogenarians standing around a hamburger asked a question that would live on in the collective American consciousness for decades: “Where’s the beef?” The Wendy’s ad was meant to imply that, while the “Whopper” and “Big Mac” might look bigger, it’s all because of the bun, whereas Wendy’s square patties meant more meat, even in the “hamburger we modestly call our ‘Single.'” It went on to be a game-changer for Wendy’s and left an indelible mark on the advertising landscape.
Chrysler: “It’s Halftime in America”
While many companies opt for humor or heartfelt schmaltz or just sex appeal, Chrysler took a bold risk by making an ad that featured a grizzled Clint Eastwood rasping at viewers about how America is on the precipice of total collapse. It’s a harrowing and downright depressing ad that ends with a message of hope, but also fear. And somehow it’s supposed to make us want to buy American-made cars. Either way, the ad was effective, and earned pop culture’s true stamp of approval: It was parodied by SNL almost immediately, with Bill Hader doing his best impression of Eastwood to date.
Pepsi: “Just One Look”
For their Super Bowl XXVI ad back in 1992, Pepsi made viewers aware of two things: Cindy Crawford is absolutely drop-dead gorgeous, and so were their newly redesigned Pepsi cans. The ad, set to Doris Troy’s “Just One Look,” features Crawford getting out of her car at a rural gas station and buying a can of soda from a machine, while two young boys ogle her from the bushes. However, it turns out they are really staring at the Pepsi can, which is somehow weirder. Either way, Crawford later revealed that even two decades after the ad, people still routinely tell her how much they love the iconic commercial.
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Is the Super Bowl a football game interrupted by commercials, or commercials interrupted by a football game?
The NFL championship is the rare live sporting event that has viewers looking forward to ad breaks, thanks to a tradition of star-studded, big-budget, high-concept commercials that bend over backwards to entertain. The best ones are fun to watch even years later, when you’re no longer on a couch eating buffalo wings (though that is the preferred viewing position). Here are our picks for the 50 best super bowl commercials of all time, including Budweiser Clydesdales, mini-Darth Vader and your recommended daily dose of Britney Spears—in no particular order.
Apple, “1984” (1984)
Perhaps the only Super Bowl ad that can properly be called “iconic,” this George Orwell-inspired commercial (directed by Blade Runner’s Ridley Scott) promised that the new Apple Macintosh would give power to the people, preventing a dystopian future where no one can think for themselves. The commercial was so risky that Apple’s board of directors tried to stop it from airing, but in the end, it worked. As for that whole preventing-a-dystopian-future thing, the verdict is still out.
Pepsi, “We Will Rock You” (2004)
It’s the pinnacle of Super Bowl star power: three minutes of Beyoncé, Britney Spears and Pink, dressed as Roman gladiators, singing “We Will Rock You” in the actual Colosseum. Enrique Iglesias plays the Pepsi-withholding emperor. We could watch this all night.
Pepsi, “Cindy Crawford” (1992)
It’s a fact: No one has ever looked as good in cut-off shorts and a tank top as supermodel Cindy Crawford did in 1992. Crawford looked just as stunning when she re-recreated the blockbuster Pepsi commercial in 2018, at the age of 51, with her model son Presley Gerber. But nothing can top the original ad.
Coca-Cola, “Hey Kid, Catch!” (1979)
The Pittsburgh Steelers’ “Mean” Joe Greene, extra-mean after sustaining an injury, turns his frown upside-down after an earnest young fan shares his Coke. Sweet and simple, it’s been parodied by Sesame Street, Family Guy and Greene himself in a 2012 Downy commercial with Amy Sedaris.
Volkswagen, “The Force” (2011)
Just try not to smile at this pint-sized Darth Vader attempting to use his (or her!) Force powers on a washing machine, a peanut butter sandwich and the family dog. When Little Darth finally succeeds (or so it seems) on a Volkswagen Passat, the tiny villain is even more shocked than the audience. Somehow, it wouldn’t have been half as cute if the kid was dressed as Luke Skywalker.
Related: Get Ready for Music’s Biggest Night With Our Guide to the 2020 Grammys
McDonald’s, “The Showdown” (1993)
Larry Bird challenges Michael Jordan to a friendly shooting contest for his Big Mac, but the basketball hall-of-famers keep raising the stakes. This is the commercial that made it mandatory to say, “Nothing but net!” before tossing a basketball, much to the chagrin of gym teachers everywhere. In 2010, Bird made a cameo in McDonald’s updated remake starring Dwight Howard and LeBron James.
Snickers, “Game” (2010)
“Mike, you’re playing like Betty White out there.” “That’s not what your girlfriend says!” The Golden Girl is hysterical as a young football player’s tired, hungry alter ego in this Snickers commercial, which also features a cameo by Abe Vigoda. This commercial kicked off the candy company’s brilliant “You’re not you when you’re hungry” campaign, and more importantly, reminded the world that White is a national treasure.
FedEx, “The Lollipop Guild” (2000)
The Munchkins need an emergency FedEx shipment to restore their squeaky voices in this exceptionally clever tribute to The Wizard of Oz. Created with original footage from the 1939 film, along with lookalike actors and digital effects, the Super Bowl ad was subsequently pulled off the air because it showed the inhalation of helium.
Pepsi, “Joy of Pepsi” (2001)
What is it about these Britney Spears Pepsi commercials that makes them so watchable, almost 20 years later? In this one, Spears dances in a Pepsi factory, sings a super-catchy jingle, and looks like she’s genuinely having a great time. The ad re-aired during the 2001 Academy Awards with cut-ins of people watching from home, including Spears’ fellow Pepsi spokesperson and former Presidential candidate Bob Dole.
Pepsi, “Now and Then” (2002)
Spears sings and dances her way through multiple generations of Pepsi jingles, playing a ‘50s soda fountain customer, a ‘60s go-go dancer, a beach bunny, a hippie and ‘80s rock star Robert Palmer in a series of flawlessly recreated vintage ads. The timeline ends with her “Joy of Pepsi” commercial from the previous year, because it’s never too soon to be nostalgic.
Old Spice, “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” (2010)
In 2010, after decades of commercials featuring sexy women, Old Spice welcomed female thirst to the Super Bowl. Isaiah Mustafa, who begins the ad in a shower and ends it on a horse, looks great shirtless, but it’s his straight-to-the-camera narration that really sells the olfactory fantasy.
Always, “#LikeaGirl” (2015)
The maxi-pad brand asks some grown women, men and boys to do things “like a girl”–then asks the same thing of young girls. Get ready to shed some tears if you haven’t seen this one. (Watch an extended version here.)
NFL, “Touchdown Celebrations to Come” (2018)
In celebration of the NFL lifting its ban on touchdown dances, New York Giants Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. do the Dirty Dancing finale—and absolutely nail it, right down to the lift. No stunt doubles or spaghetti arms here!
Coca-Cola, “Hilltop Reunion” 1990
Coke’s original 1971 “Hilltop” ad, featuring the charting single “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony),” did not air during the Super Bowl. But this sequel, which reunited the original singers on that very same hill–with their children–was a sweet Super Bowl surprise.
Nike, “Hare Jordan” (1993)
This Air Jordans ad, starring Bugs Bunny and Michael “Not Elmer Fudd” Jordan, inspired the film Space Jam. Need we say more?
Xerox, “Monks” (1977)
This very Catholic Xerox commercial seems quaint now, but “the first viral ad” is credited with making the Super Bowl an event where the commercials are as entertaining as the game. Plus, it’s still funny. Xerox remade the ad for its 40th anniversary, with the original monk delivering its punchline.
Budweiser, “The Extra Point” (1996)
A team of majestic Clydesdale horses gallops across the wild plains…and right into a football scrimmage. Clever editing makes it look like the horses are actually playing, making this one of Bud’s more memorable Clydesdale spots.
Late Show with David Letterman (2010)
Future generations may not understand what a big deal it was to get late-night rivals David Letterman and Jay Leno on the same sofa, let alone with fellow TV legend Oprah Winfrey as mediator. For those of us who grew up in the pre-streaming era, it’s an astonishing 19 seconds.
Frito-Lay, “Nuzzle and Nibble” (1997)
Miss Piggy ditches supermodels Kathy Ireland and Vendela to woo soap-opera heartthrob Antonio Sabato, Jr. in this Baked Lays ad. By the end of the commercial, of course, his heart has been broken (not to mention his arm).
Pepsi and Lucasfilm, “Darth Vader, (1997)
A double-whammy to advertise both the soft drink and the Star Wars Special Edition theatrical release, this commercial arguably has better effects than the Special Edition films.
Tabasco, “Mosquito” (1998)
This one-man ad couldn’t be simpler—but just try going to an outdoor barbecue without thinking about it even once.
FedEx, “We Apologize” (1998)
This practical joke of an ad began by fooling viewers into thinking they’d lost their TV signal. (Those colored bars were once the television equivalent of the Mac’s spinning rainbow wheel.) The joke soon became clear, as the onscreen text described the spectacular commercial that would have aired if the ad agency had used FedEx to get it to the network on time. It’s a commercial that gets a big laugh with what may be the smallest Super Bowl ad budget ever.
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Bud Light, “Paper or Plastic” (1999)
Shot like a ‘90s buddy comedy, this beer ad presents an almost-relatable dilemma: to buy beer or toilet paper? The punchline is priceless.
Budweiser, “Clydesdale Respect” (2002)
In this quietly moving tribute to the victims of September 11, Budweiser’s Clydesdale horses leave their Missouri barn, cross the Brooklyn Bridge and kneel at the foot of the New York skyline. The text-free, voiceover-free commercial (not even the word “Budweiser” appears) aired once during the Super Bowl and never again.
Kia, “The Truth” (2012)
Laurence Fishburne reprised his role as Morpheus from The Matrix to promote Kia’s K900 luxury car. The true genius of this ad is in the Wachowski-esque details, like the quick shot of a restaurant patron realizing there is no soup spoon.
Snickers, “The Brady Bunch” (2015)
It took Mars a few years to one-up its Betty White commercial, but recreating a classic Brady Bunch scene, with Danny Trejo as Marcia and Steve Buscemi as Jan, did the trick.
Coca-Cola, “It’s Mine” (2008)
At the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Underdog and Stewie Griffin balloons tussle over a runaway Coke bottle balloon. The surprise ending is a satisfying win for a beloved character who rarely gets one.
Kia, “Space Babies” (2013)
Caught off guard by his young son, a Kia Sorento-driving father weaves an elaborate tale of where babies come from. It’s an old joke, but the commercial’s Babylandia fantasy sequence is so delightful that Kia makes the cut anyway.
NFL, “The 100-Year Game” (2019)
The NFL celebrated its centennial season with this all-star commercial, directed by Friday Night Lights’ Peter Berg. The gala-turned-game features a cast of 50, including current players, retired all-stars and young female football player Sam Gordon (presumably representing the league’s future).
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Budweiser, “Clydesdale Foal” (2013)
In this valentine to animal lovers, a trainer nurtures a just-born Clydesdale foal (later named Hope in an online poll) to proudly pull the Budweiser wagon. Three years later in Chicago, they have the sweetest-ever reunion.
BMW, “Newfangled Idea” (2015)
Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel recreate their viral Today Show clip from 1994, in which they try to understand “what internet is”—but instead, they’re trying to wrap their heads around the electric BMW I3.
Esurance, “Sorta Pharmacy” (2015)
Bryan Cranston gets back into character as Breaking Bad’s Walter White to play a very intimidating pharmacist in this insurance commercial. Say his name.
“It’s a Tide Ad/It’s Another Tide Ad” (2018)
Is every Super Bowl ad secretly a Tide ad? Stranger Things’ David Harbour trespasses through other people’s commercials, including Super Bowl classics like “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like,” to make his surprisingly persuasive argument.
PepsiCo, “Doritos Blaze vs Mountain Dew Ice: Battle” (2018)
The world needed a lip-sync rap battle between Morgan Freeman and Peter Dinklage. We just didn’t know it until they made this Super Bowl commercial. The ice-cold Freeman gets his freak on (with some coaching from Missy Elliott), while Dinklage literally spits fire on Busta Rhymes’ tongue-twisting verse from “Look at Me Now.”
Budweiser, “Frogs” (1995)
Just three lifelike frog puppets, having a conversation about beer. Directed by Pirates of the Caribbean’s Gore Verbinski, this ad established the frog as a Budweiser mascot and opened the door for years of swamp-creature-themed commercials.
PS2, “Future” (2001)
Rather than advertise the new PS2, Sony made a commercial for 2078’s hottest new gaming system, PlayStation 9. The imagined video game system features retinal scanning, holographic images and telepathic personal music—all of which, two decades later, seem totally plausible.
Squarespace, “John Malkovich” (2017)
John Malkovich discovers that he doesn’t own JohnMalkovich.com, and has a very Malkovich identity crisis, in this delightfully deadpan Squarespace ad.
Amazon Alexa, “Ordering Dog Food” (2019)
Amazon’s idea to expose its “failed” Alexa integrations is pretty clever, but it’s Harrison Ford arguing with his Alexa-collar-enabled dog that makes this ad lovable.
Audi, “The Chase” (2009)
Jason Statham stunt-drives his way from the ‘70s through the ‘00s in a series of Audi cars, in a commercial with nods to The French Connection, Miami Vice and Statham’s own Transporter films.
Mastercard, “Errands” (2004)
Mastercard’s long-running “Priceless” campaign finds its best spokesperson in Homer Simpson, who spends a day using his Mastercard around Springfield and arguing with the voiceover.
Subaru, “New Subaru Brat” (1982)
Ruth Gordon (of Harold and Maude and Rosemary’s Baby fame) makes an adorable car saleswoman in this vintage Subaru Super Bowl ad.
Amazon, “Alexa Loses Her Voice” (2018)
Gordon Ramsey, Cardi B, Rebel Wilson and Anthony Hopkins are recruited to replace Alexa, with hilarious results.
Budweiser, “Which Game?” (2000)
This is the ad that had everyone shouting “WASSUP” at each other for the next six months, which was extremely annoying, but the commercial itself remains endearingly weird.
Denny’s, “Thugs” (2009)
It’s tough to order a hit on somebody when your waitress is putting a whipped-cream beard on your pancakes. This commercial plays like an excellent lost Sopranos scene.
NFL, “Super Bowl Babies Choir” (2016)
For this commercial, the National Football League assembled eight choirs of “Super Bowl Babies,” born nine months after a victorious Super Bowl in their hometown, from the 1967 Packers win to the Seahawks’ 2014 triumph. Also, Seal is there.
Heineken, “Beer Run” (2005)
Stylishly directed by Fight Club’s David Fincher and scored by the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter,” this ad imagines Brad Pitt risking an army of paparazzi to grab a six-pack of Heineken.
Mercedes-Benz, “Soul” (2013)
It was a stroke of genius casting Willem Dafoe, who played Jesus in The Last Temptation of Christ, as the devil in this Mercedes-Benz ad. Dafoe tries to buy a man’s soul in exchange for a life of luxury, but after the man realizes how affordable the new Benz is, all bets are off.
Kia Motors, “How You Like Me Now” (2010)
What do toys think about while they’re collecting dust in the backseat of the car? This Kia Sorento ad delves into the wild fantasy lives of one child’s favorites, including a Muno doll (RIP Yo Gabba Gabba!).
Microsoft, “We All Win” (2019)
A group of physically disabled kids demonstrate how the Xbox adaptive controller allows them to play video games with all of their friends. “He’s not different when he plays,” says one proud dad, holding back tears. By the end of this one you’ll be doing the same.
Doritos, “Chance the Rapper x Backstreet Boys” (2019)
This ad’s remix of the Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way,” featuring Chance the Rapper, is surprisingly great—despite being entirely about Flamin’ Hot Nacho Doritos.
Want to celebrate the Super Bowl meat-free? You can now with our guide to going vegan on game day.
15 Funniest Super Bowl Car Commercials Of All Time
When millions of us settle down this weekend to watch the Super Bowl, there will be much more to see than just four quarters of gridiron competition. As always, Super Bowl commercials are a highlight of the big game, with companies dumping their best talent and biggest budgets in order to grab viewers’ attention between the action.
This year is no exception, with plenty of advertisements expected from a plethora of automakers such as Hyundai, Audi, Porsche, and others. However, now is a great time to take a look back through recent years at some of the funniest spots that arguably stole the show.
Honda: “A New Truck to Love”
What happens when you have an in-bed audio system and more than a dozen singing sheep? Honda’s 2016 Ridgeline ad “A New Truck to Love” showed us exactly that. In the clip, a group of sheep come together to the tune of Queen’s hit song Somebody to Love. The ad spot has been viewed more than 7 million times on the Honda YouTube channel.
Hyundai: “Unpleasant Moments”
Hyundai definitely has a knack for funny Super Bowl commercials, as this list will show. In 2019, the automaker teamed up with Jason Bateman to highlight an uncomfortable truth – shopping for a new car can really suck. What’s worse than new-car shopping? Root canals, uncomfortable coming-of-age conversations, vegan dinner parties, and jury duty to name just a few. As such, the commercial didn’t promote a specific vehicle, but Hyundai’s Shopper Assurance program which promised a kinder, gentler experience.
VW: “The Force”
In 2011, VW paired the power of the Dark Side with the then-new 2012 Passat. It shows a young boy doing his best Darth Vader impression, attempting to use The Force on things like the fridge, the sink, and even the family dog, with no success. Then he comes across dad’s new Passat – and well, the rest is Super Bowl ad history.
Hyundai: “First Date”
If sending your teenage kids out to drive by themselves is scary on its own, imagine how terrified this dad, played by Kevin Hart, feels when his daughter goes out on a date in his new Hyundai Genesis. Hart, however, has a trump card up his sleeve: By using the Hyundai’s Blue Link telematics system, he can track the couple’s location on his smartwatch and keep tabs on their date with the Car Finder feature. This ad, which is probably every teenage boy’s worst nightmare, won USA Today’s coveted “Ad Meter” award during the 2016 Super Bowl.
Bridgestone: “Reply All”
It wasn’t even an automaker that had one of the funniest Super Bowl commercials of 2011. Instead, Bridgestone debuted its hilarious “Reply All” ad spot, which previewed the horrors of accidentally sending an email to everyone in a specific thread. According to AdWeek, it was actually inspired by an errant reply-all email that was sent by the spot’s creative director.
Toyota: “The Longest Chase”
The Prius may not seem like an appropriate getaway car, but when bank robbers got behind the wheel of the hybrid in 2016’s “The Longest Chase,” it made for Super Bowl commercial gold. It saw four thieves become a sort of global phenomenon, appearing in music videos, news reports, and even game shows after avoiding police and making their way to the highway. The goal was to show off the car’s 58 mile-per-gallon range on the highway… just don’t try running from the police in real life.
Chevrolet: “Happy Grad”
General Motors asked filmmakers to submit their own ads for the company’s Super Bowl XLVI spots, and this one, by then-26-year-old Zach Borst, got big laughs. It’s a classic case of dramatic irony, with a recent grad excited to see the gift his parents got him: A brand-new yellow Chevy Camaro convertible. Except, uh, that’s not the gift his folks actually got him for college. Watch the video to see how disappointed he’ll be when he figures it out.
Who wouldn’t want to live in a town called Ryanville? Populated exclusively by men that look like movie star Ryan Reynolds, this 2016 Super Bowl spot touted the new Hyundai Elantra’s automated stopping power when the two drivers become distracted by the, uh, scenery.
This 2004 commercial shows unhappy children with bars of soap in their mouths. The reason? Wait until the end, when a child sees the new Chevy SSR – that weird power-hardtop truck-slash-convertible – and starts a sentence with, “Holy” before the SSR’s exhaust note covers up his next word. At the time, Ad Age called the spot, “a perfectly constructed, perfectly casted and even perfectly photo-composed setup.”
Ford: “Green Light”
Introducing a convertible in winter can be a tough sell – who’s thinking of top-down driving when there’s snow and ice on the road? Ford, however, used that incongruity to its favor and, in 2005, used a Super Bowl commercial to highlight the new Mustang convertible. The clip shows what happens when a convertible fan gets a little too excited about their new car, driving top-down in sub-zero weather for too long. The gag takes a while to develop, but it’s a great way to show off the topless Mustang.
Kia: “Walken Closet”
Kia touted its new Optima sedan as “the world’s most exciting pair of socks,” during this 2016 Super Bowl ad spot, in an effort to do away with the beige and boring socks (sedans) of the world. Of course, the slogan sounds much better when it’s uttered by actor Christopher Walken.
Audi: “Green Police”
Oh the irony… Audi’s 2010 Super Bowl spot “Green Police” police gave us an overly-dramatic, hilarious look at green living, all to the tune of Cheap Trick’s The Dream Police soundtrack while touting the efficiency of the A3 TDI “Clean Diesel.” Naturally, we know now that VW’s idea of clean diesel, well, isn’t. Still, it’s a funny commercial nonetheless.
General Motors: “Robot”
The “Robot” clip does elicit a laugh at the end, but it’s not without some complicated, tragic moments. Ostensibly intended to show the attention-to-detail GM intended with its new five-year/100,000-mile warranties, it follows the story of an industrial robot who daydreams of making a mistake and, out of shame, jumping off a bridge. But Robert Gebbia, then the executive director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, told The Washington Post that, “It was inappropriate to use depression and suicide as a way to sell cars.” You tell us: Is this ad funny or exploitative?
Well before the NSX hit dealerships in 2015, Acura was dishing out Super Bowl commercials to tease its highly anticipated new sports car. In 2012, the automaker teamed up with Jerry Seinfeld – comedian and avid car collector – to create the spot entitled “Transactions.” In it, we see Seinfeld attempting to swoon the owner of the very first reservation spot for the new car, offering up things like cash, the Soup Nazi character, and even a dancing holographic monkey, all to no avail.
Kia: “Hero’s Journey”
In 2017, Melissa McCarthy was on a mission to save the planet, everything from ice caps to rhinos. Of course, she couldn’t do it all without a bit of help from the then-new Niro Hybrid SUV… and without getting into a bit of trouble in the process.
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During the Super Bowl on Feb. 2, millions of fans across the country will tune in not just for the football, but also the commercials.
The ads throughout the game are some of the best in the business with advertisers focusing in on the Super Bowl as a big premiere date. The ads that come from the Super Bowl are memorable and stick with viewers long after the game is over. Often a company will use the ad campaign for many years.
Ahead of this year’s big game, take a look back at some of the most famous of all-time.
1979 – Coke: “Hey Kid, Catch”
One of the most iconic Super Bowl ads of all time, this one-minute spot featured Steelers defensive tackle “Mean” Joe Greene. A kid offers a limping Greene a coke as he heads to the locker room. Mean Joe isn’t so mean after all when he throws the kid a jersey in exchange.
1984 – Wendy’s: Where’s the Beef
The expression became a national catchphrase. The ad appeared ahead of the big game, but that didn’t stop it catching fire when it aired during the Super Bowl. In the 1984 Democratic primaries, former Vice President Walter Mondale even used the phrase to criticize proposals from Senator Gary Hart.
1984 – Apple: “1984”
Apple went literal with this ad that was more short film than commercial. In the ad based on the dystopian novel “1984” by George Orwell, a jogger representing Apple knocks down Big Brother (representing IBM). The ad was directed by filmmaker Ridley Scott.
1992 – Pepsi: Cindy Crawford
This Pepsi ad used star power and sex appeal to turn the focus to its newly designed can with a surprise twist. The supermodel recreated the classic ad for last year’s Super Bowl.
1993 – McDonald’s: H.O.R.S.E
Michael Jordan and Larry Bird playing H.O.R.S.E? Sign us up to watch the epic showdown that helped popularize the phrase “Nothing but net.” The ad brought plenty of parodies with a remake in 2010 featuring LeBron James and Dwight Howard.
1993: Nike: Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny
Before Space Jam, there was an initial ad featuring “Air Jordan” and “Hare Jordan.” The dream team crossover featured the two fighting bullies on the court ahead of the 1996 classic Space Jam.
1995 – Budweiser: Frogs
Budweiser is a reliable Super Bowl spot, usually featuring the famous Clydesdales. But in this commercial before the horses became the common Super Bowl ad, the company went with amphibians and a generation thought frogs made this sound.
1998 – Tabasco: Mosquito
If only hot sauce had this effect on mosquitos in real life.
1999 – Monster.com: When I Grow Up
Everyone dreams of what they want to be when they grow up. Monster.com put a too real spin on the classic question, with kids saying adult phrases like climbing up to middle management and being a yes man. If only job boards had positions for astronauts, ballerinas and everything else kids want to be.
2000 – E-Trade: Monkey
Nothing says a waste of millions of dollars like 30 seconds of watching a monkey dance. Actually, it’s the best use of money. But E-Trade illustrated a great point for their online investment business with this Super Bowl spot.
2010 – Snickers: You’re Not You When You’re Hungry
You’re not you when you’re hungry introuduced new fans to Hollywood icon Betty White and gave way to an ad campaign that’s still going. It’s since featured celebrities including Aretha Franklin, Liza Minnelli and Elton John.
2010 – Old Spice: The Man You Can Smell Like
Diamonds, boat and horses. What more can you ask for from a body wash? Thanks to Old Spice for giving girlfriends everywhere even more unrealistic expectations.
2011 – Volkswagen: The Force
Volkswagen unveiled the ad before the Super Bowl — now a common practice for companies looking to make a splash. But in 2011, the decision created crazy buzz thanks to the good-natured ad that Star Wars fans and non-fans alike could smile about.
2012 – Chrysler: Halftime in America
American director Clint Eastwood narrated the American automobile industry rebounding after the Great Recession with images of American workers appearing in the video. The commercial appeared during halftime.
2015 – Always: Like a Girl
Always flipped a sexist stereotype on its heels and showed the strength of doing something “Like a girl.” It was a welcome break from the hyper masculinity of the day and advocated for female empowerment.
2018 – NFL: Dirty Dancing with Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr.
Last season’s most memorable commercial didn’t come from a paying sponsor. Instead, viewers were given laughs when quarterback Eli Manning and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. recreated the famous scene from the film Dirty Dancing. Time of our lives, indeed.
We can’t wait to see if any ads from this year’s Super Bowl will be worthy of this list.
When it comes to the 2019 Super Bowl ads, we’ve got some high expectations. The unofficial competition for the ‘best Super Bowl commercial’ crown is already underway, with some awesome-looking teasers from the likes of Pepsi, Doritos and Bumble. But what will the full ads look like? And will they be put into the shade by as-yet-unseen spots from Audi, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, Disney, Verizon, the NFL itself and others?
Few events generate as much global buzz as the American Super Bowl, which this year takes place on Sunday, 3 February 2019. And for creatives, there are plenty of branding lessons to be learned from the world’s biggest players – not to mention some spectacular set and costume design during the halftime show.
Happily, if you want to catch the action this year, there are a number of ways to live stream the Super Bowl 2019 for free no matter where in the world you live.
How to stream the Super Bowl 2019 online for free
01. Download a VPN service – our favourite is ExpressVPN, which has a huge 49% discount right now.
02. Connect to a server location: if you just want to watch the game, the UK is the best place to find the Super Bowl being streamed for free (go to TVplayer.com and select BBC One); whereas the US is the best place to catch the commercials. Get Express VPN for almost half price now.
As a sports event, the annual showdown between the two best American football teams in the NFL – this year, the New England Patriots, and the Los Angeles Rams – is exciting enough. But its cultural importance extends beyond this.
Treated by many Americans as an unofficial holiday, Super Bowl Sunday is a time for friends and family to gather together, sink a beer, eat unhealthy snacks and watch TV. And it’s a real occasion: more food is consumed on this day, for example, than any other day of the year, save Thanksgiving (including an estimated 28 million pounds of potato chips and 1.25 billion chicken wings).
Plus, as we’ve mentioned, it’s not just about the sport. The biggest global pop stars perform during the half-time show, and the specially made TV commercials have become an art form in themselves.
With the cost of advertising rising to an eye-watering $150,000 per second, brands have never before had such an incentive to create something truly special. Their challenge is to capture the world’s imagination and change the way we think about them overnight.
We may be living in the era of time-shifted TV and Netflix boxsets, but every now and again, something approaches that reminds you of the thrill of watching TV live – along with millions of people round the world.
Take a trip back in time with us, as we relive the best Super Bowl ads of the last five decades…
The best Super Bowl commercials ever
‘Mean Joe Greene’ lives up to his name in this classic ad…
This Clio-award winning Super Bowl commercial, shown during the 1979 showdown between Los Angeles Rams and the Pittsburgh Steelers, appears in countless lists of the greatest ads of all time – and for good reason.
The setup is simple, classic advertising, effortlessly tugging on the audience’s heartstrings. A nine-year-old boy approaches the notoriously surly Steelers defensive tackle ‘Mean Joe Greene’ after a game as he limps back to his dressing room. The child offers him his Coca-Cola but gets only a scowl, and turns away dejected. Then comes the payoff, as the player calls after him, smiles, and throws him his jersey.
… but the offer of a Coke turns his frown upside-down
There’s nothing flashy about this Super Bowl ad. It’s just about giving the viewer a sweet, feel-good moment that’s grounded in a sense of reality; both Greene’s injuries and aggressiveness seem real, making his eventual smile all the more winning.
Art directed by Roger Mosconi and written by Penny Hawkey, the footage was shot in May 1979 at a small stadium in Mount Vernon, New York. Greene later recalled that he’d had to do a number of takes of the final line without burping. “Between me belching and going to the men’s room, it took three days to film it,” he told the Baltimore Sun.
Creative lesson: By telling a simple story that’s anchored by a sense of realism, it’s possible to make an emotional connection with the audience that takes seconds, but lasts a lifetime.
02. “1984”/Apple (1984)
Apple’s ad introduced a figure similar to ‘Big Brother’ from George Orwell’s 1984
Nowadays, we’re used to Super Bowl ads with big budgets and epic visions. But in 1984, audiences had yet to experience such things. And then Apple came along and blew their minds – or made them utterly befuddled – depending on who was watching.
At the time, IBM dominated the personal computer market and Apple was struggling to break through. So to announce the launch of the first Apple Macintosh computer, director Ridley Scott created something that was less a standard ad and more a mini-movie.
This Apple Super Bowl ad presents a dystopian world similar to that envisioned by George Orwell’s novel 1984. Cue an unnamed heroine, played by English athlete Anya Major, who represents the coming of the Apple Macintosh as a means of saving humanity from “conformity”.
The ad showed an uprising against authority, as a metaphor for Apple’s challenge to IBM
The OTT ad was widely ridiculed, but Apple didn’t need to appeal to everyone; just the minority who were interested in buying this relatively new device called a personal computer.
And their strategy undeniably worked. About $3.5 million worth of Macintoshes were sold just after the Super Bowl commercial ran, and the company didn’t even need to pay for the ad to be shown again, because so many TV shows reported on it, and rescreened it for free.
Creative lesson: Advertising doesn’t need to please everyone, just the target audience, and ultimately that’s the only measure of success worth worrying about.
03. “Wassup”/Budweiser (1999)
1999’s Budweiser ad introduced an earworm no one could avoid
A full 20 years after this Budweiser Super Bowl ad aired at the 1999 play-off between the Denver Broncos and the Atlantic Falcons, its catchphrase remains instantly recognisable to an entire generation of viewers.
If you haven’t seen it, the ad shows several young men talking on the phone and saying “whassup?” to one another in a way that’s right on the border between amusing and irritating. The hilarious scene is tied to both football and the brand by the repeated answer to the question: “Watching the game, having a bud.”
The catchphrase went around the world and back, and still remains in the public consciousness
The Super Bowl commercial was created by DDB and directed by Charles Stone III, based on a short titled True, which he had previously made and shown at film festivals. It has since been recreated and parodied countless times, and won numerous awards.
But more importantly, after airing at the Super Bowl, the catchphrase was repeated incessantly by ordinary people worldwide in a way that has rarely ever been matched by an advertising slogan. In a largely pre-internet world, it’s an example of how you don’t necessarily need the web to make a viral impact on popular culture.
Creative lesson: In an era in which advertising experts pour over spreadsheets of page views and social shares, it’s important to remember that you don’t need technology to get into people’s heads: a great idea will spread regardless.
04. “The Force”/Volkswagen (2011)
The ad turned a dry technical innovation into a subject for family fun
These days, the world might be getting a little bit weary of the Star Wars juggernaut, with new movies appearing all the time. But back in the pre-Force Awakens year of 2011, Star Wars nostalgia meant that this clever conceived Super Bowl commercial for Volkswagen was an instant hit.
Aired during the 2011 Super Bowl between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers, the ad shows a young boy dressed in a Darth Vader costume trying to control items around the house, including the washing machine and clothes dryer, using ‘The Force’. As his efforts fail, he becomes increasingly disheartened. Then he tries his magical powers on the family car, and is astounded when it roars into life… although the viewer knows that it’s actually his dad using the remote control.
The spot quickly became the most shared ad online ever
Directed by Lance Acord and produced by Park Pictures for Deutsch, the Super Bowl ad features note-perfect acting and makes excellent use of the ‘Death March’ music from the Star Wars movies to push our nostalgic buttons . But most importantly, it taps into a primal desire, especially in children, to be able to assert control in a chaotic world.
It quickly became the most shared Super Bowl ad of all time on YouTube. And more broadly, it’s credited for changing the way the industry approaches Super Bowl campaigns in general, putting much greater emphasis on internet previews before the game and the use of social media to drive interest.
Creative lesson: Nostalgia is a powerful tool in advertising. But it only really works if it’s combined with a simple, killer concept; one that’s easy to understand and clearly ties in to the overall branding message.
05. “So God made a Farmer”/ Ram Trucks (2013)
This ad for Ram Trucks firmly associates the brand with traditional values
For ads to make that emotional connection that’s vital to success, humour can be a powerful tool. But Super Bowl ads don’t have to be funny. Serious can work too.
“So God Made a Farmer” began life as a speech given by radio broadcaster Paul Harvey at the 1978 Future Farmers of America convention. A pastiche of the creation narrative in the Bible Book of Genesis, it stirringly describes the noble characteristics of a farmer, beginning with the phrase: “And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, ‘I need a caretaker.’ So God made a farmer.”
The trucks themselves play only a minor part in the sequence
The speech is used in this 2013 Super Bowl ad for Ram Trucks, accompanied by a slideshow of stirring photography of real-life farmers. It’s a campaign that associates Ram Trucks’ brand with the traditional values of rural America; which is a far more powerful and engaging proposition than just talking about speed and performance.
Created by The Richards Group, the ad was made in collaboration with the National FFA Organization, a youth organisation promoting agricultural education, to which Ram agreed to donate up to $1million based on the number of YouTube views it received. It got 108 million in 2013 alone, making it easily on of the best Super Bowl commercials ever.
Creative lesson: Advertising that taps into shared values can be more effective than focusing on the specifics of a product. And if serious money is raised for charity as a result, accusations of empty sentiment can be easily batted away.
Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd pitch ideas for a Super Bowl ad in this mega-meta commercial
In the 2010s, TV audiences had become increasingly sophisticated. But this 2013 Super Bowl ad starring Hollywood stars Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd, and directed by Jon Favreau of Iron Man fame, pushed the envelope of knowing irony like nothing before it.
In this extended comic sketch, shown during the 2013 Super Bowl between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers, Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen are asked to come up with an idea for a Super Bowl commercial for Samsung.
Bob Odenkirk mercilessly parodies the excesses of modern-day admen in the spot
A highly charge and increasingly ridiculous brainstorm meeting ensues with a narcissistic adman played by Bob Odenkirk (known best as Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad) that perfectly parodies both the ad industry and advertising itself. Even the product placement of Samsung devices is ironic.
For the intended audience, it was the perfect ad for the age – earning its place in our round-up of the best Super Bowl commercials ever. Throughout the 2010s, brand loyalties have become more fluid, and this ad recognises that, leaving behind the hard sell and replacing it with a prime piece of entertainment that’s finely honed for tech-savvy and social media oriented audiences.
Creative lesson: All brands must move with the times and reflect how the audience is, not how you’d like them to be. In the 2010s, most of us don’t want to pick sides in the smartphone wars, we just want something that works, from a brand we can trust. Give us an ad that’s fun and relatable, and the rest will follow.
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With how many amazing Super Bowl commercials come out every year, it’s hard to pick a favorite. Each year, brands seem to outdo themselves with bigger celebrities, funnier advertisements and catchier slogans, and we’re sure 2019 will be no different. Still, if we were to rank the best Super Bowl commercials ever, these 13 would make the cut.
From Beyoncé, P!nk and Britney Spears fighting gladiator-style for a Pepsi to the time Monster.com made us cry, the Super Bowl has produced dozens of memorable commercials over the years. And though each one is as creative as the next, there’s a select number of Super Bowl commercials that can only be described as “unforgettable.” Some of these commercials are from the ’80s (or even ’70s), while others are as recent as last year (who remembers when Cardi B replaced Amazon Alexa?). No matter when they premiered, these commercials will go down in Super Bowl history.
So ahead of 2019’s big game, we looked back on 13 Super Bowl commercials we’re still thinking about. Some of them make us laugh. Others make us think. Whatever these commercials do, we’re so happy they exist on the internet for us to relive over and over. Check out the best Super Bowl commercials ahead.
Coca-Cola: “Mean Joe Greene” (1979)
Pittsburgh Steelers player Charles Edward Greene, nicknamed “Mean Joe Greene,” starred in this 1979 Super Bowl commercial, which took a nickname Greene wasn’t fond of and turned into a heartwarming advertisement. The commercial features Greene limping after a game when a little boy approaches him and offers him a “Coke.” In return, Greene gives the boy his jersey.
Apple: “Introduce Macintosh” (1984)
Before the iPhone, there was the Macintosh. In 1984, Apple released this commercial to promote its new computer. The commercial features a future-like world, where a woman with a sledgehammer comes and destroys an IBM screen. The commercial was meant to mark the beginning of the Apple era.
Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and McDonald’s: “The Showdown” (1993)
Michael Jordan and NBC exec Larry Bird go head-to-head in this McDonald’s commercial for the 1993 Super Bowl. The commercial. The commercial features Jordan and Bird shooting hoops for a single Big Mac and fries.
Pepsi: “Nothing Like a Pepsi” (1996)
Pepsi and Coke’s rivalry dates way back. In this 1996 Super Bowl commercial, a Coca-Cola worker is seen on a security camera refilling Cokes at a grocery store. After he’s done, he decides to take a drink from the Pepsi side of the cooler, which causes the entire display to fall down. Looks like even Coke workers want a Pepsi.
Tabasco: “Mosquito” (1998)
There’s something so cheesy but so classic about Tobasco’s 1998 Super Bowl commercial. The commercial features a man dousing his pizza with Tabasco sauce—so much so that he’s sweating. When a mosquito comes and bites him, the bug immediately tastes the spice in his blood and flies away only to combust moments later.
Doritos: “3D Doritos” (1998)
To promote Doritos’s new 3D Doritos, the brand released this 1998 Super Bowl commercial, which features two guys at a laundromat trying to impress a woman by tossing 3D Doritos into their mouths. Little did they know that the woman was the most skilled food-thrower after she puts a bag of 3D Doritos into a washing machine and eats them as the washer spits them out machine-gun-style.
Monster.com: “When I Grow Up” (1999)
Monster.com may not be as memorable today, but their 1999 Super Bowl commercial sure is. In 1999, the career site released this Super Bowl commercial, which features kids talking about the current economy and job market and how they can’t wait to be a part of it. The commercial is sarcastic, but highlighted a huge issue when it came to job security at the time.
Terry Tate and Reebok (2003)
Reebok’s 2003 Super Bowl commercial marked the birth of Terry Tate, a fictional, over-aggressive football player created by the brand. The theme of the commercial is simple: Terry was hired by a company to keep its workers in check—by screaming in their faces.
Beyoncé, P!nk, Britney Spears and Pepsi (2004)
2004 saw three pop queens, Beyoncé, P!nk and Britney Spears, fight gladiator-style for a Pepsi. It’s one of the brand’s most iconic commercials, with the three singers belting Queen’s “We Will Rock You” to the audience, including Enrique Iglesias as a Caesar-like ruler.
Betty White and Snickers (2010)
Betty White was an MVP in Snickers’s 2010 Super Bowl commercial. The commercial featured a group of guys playing football when one, played by Betty White, starts to struggle. After one of the players tells the guy that he’s “playing like Betty white,” his girlfriend feeds him a Snickers. And just like that, he transforms from Betty White to a normal guy.
Justin Bieber, Ozzy Osbourne and Best Buy (2011)
2011’s Super Bowl saw a collaboration between Justin Bieber, Ozzy Osbourne and Best Buy. The fourth-wall-breaking commercial starts with Osbourne filming a Super Bowl commercial about a 4G phone when the director corrects him and tells him that the new version is a 5G. In the end, Bieber comes in and takes over, proving to the audience that “technology moves fast.”
Kim Kardashian and T Mobile (2015)
Kim Kardashian mocked herself with pitch-perfect humor in this T Mobile commercial for the 2015 Super Bowl. The commercial, which promotes the brand’s rollover data plan, features Kardashian talking about how much viewers can follow her life on the internet if their data rolled over and wasn’t wasted.
Cardi B, Gordon Ramsay, Anthony Hopkins, Rebel Wilson and Amazon Alexa (2018)
Amazon Alexa’s commercial for the 2018 Super Bowl featured a star-studded cast. The premise of the commercial is simple: Alexa lost her voice, and until it comes back, a few celebrities—like Cardi B, Gordon Ramsay, Anthony Hopkins and Rebel Wilson—have to do her job in her place.
Cheetos, a subsidiary of PepsiCo’s (PEP) – Get Report Frito-Lay announced earlier this month that it will be debuting a new Super Bowl ad for the first time in over a decade. The 30-second commercial featuring rap legend MC hammer.
The 30-second spot, called “Can’t Touch This,” will highlight the infamous orange dust Cheetos snackers get on their fingers after eating the neon-colored snack. Company executives also revealed that they have named this dust “Cheetle.”
In the teaser clip, MC Hammer is seen sitting at a piano humming a catchy tune while eating a bag of Cheetos. When he moves his hand down to the piano, he realizes he can’t touch the piano due to the “Cheetle” on his fingers.
Cheetos Popcorn will be available in two flavors: cheddar and flamin’ hot. An earlier beta variety of the snack began testing at Regal Cinemas in 2018; that version was Crunchy Cheetos mixed with popcorn. The company decided to the get rid of the original Cheetos and make the brand exclusively with the kernels.
Cheetos released a six-second explanatory video in January 2019 in which Cheetos explode into popcorn kernels, with an Australian-accented man yelling, “New! Cheetos! Popcorn!”
Cheetos’ return to the Super Bowl commercial frenzy after 10 years, coincides with the 30 year anniversary of “U Can’t Touch This,” MC Hammer’s most popular song.
Released on January 13, 1990, it was the first hip-hop song to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart an the album on which it was featured, “Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em,” sold more than 10 million copies, according to Fast Company.
Try not to get “Cheetle” on your keyboard as you watch the video above.
TheStreet ranked the best Super Bowl commercials from 2020 with buy and sell ratings.
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Last year’s Super Bowl commercials included wild ads for Stella Artois, Olay and Pepsi. (TBT to when Cardi B taught Steve Carrell how to say “okurrr.” ) But what do the Super Bowl commercials of 2020 have in store? Like the 50-plus years of Super Bowl commercials before it, the 2020 Super Bowl TV ads aren’t expected to disappoint.
Super Bowl commercials have been a phenomenon since the first Super Bowls in the 1970s. In fact, more than 100 million households watch the Super Bowl each year, according to Nielsen, which means that a prime spot during the broadcast is worth more than most of us can imagine. According to the New York Post, the average cost for a 30-second slot during the Super Bowl in 2020 is more than $5.6 million.
So before you chow down on a plate of nachos to watch the 54th annual Super Bowl or whip out those slow-cooker recipes for your next tailgate, celebrate the NFL’s most-watched Sunday with these Super Bowl commercials. From stars like Taraji P. Henson and Busy Philipps in Olay to Bill Nye the Science Guy’s ad for SodaStream, these 2020 Super Bowl commercials are sure to not disappoint. Watch the most exciting ads from this year ahead.
Badass women are at the forefront of Olay’s Super Bowl commercial, promoting its Olay Regenerist line. The ad starts with Katie Couric reporting on a space mission with celebrity astronauts Busy Philipps, Lily Singh and Taraji P. Henson,. “It was fun because I was grouped with a lot of young women who code and their excitement to be a part of this production, just made me excited,” Henson told StyleCaster of the commercial earlier this month.
Lil Nas X stars in this Doritos commercial, where he plays a cowboy who comes to town with a boom box playing “Old Town Road” and a fresh bag of Cool Ranch Doritos.
Image: Pop Tarts.
Queer Eye‘s Jonathan Van Ness is the star of this Super Bowl commercial, where he’s on the hunt for the perfect craft services snack. Pretzels won’t do it for him, but you know what does? Pop-Tarts.
Bill Nye the Science Guy is back with an ad for SodaStream. The scientist-turned-children’s-TV-star teaches viewers about space in this SodaStream ad. “Something big is bubbling,” its slogan reads.
Cheetos recruited rap legend MC Hammer for this Super Bowl commercial, where he sits in front of his piano in Oakland in 1989 as he tries to write a song. The problem is that he’s eating Cheetos at the same time and has cheese dust all over his fingers. “Wait, I can’t touch this,” MC Hammer says as he almost touches a key on his piano. Then, he has an epiphany. (The moment is an obvious nod to his 1990 song “Can’t Touch This.”
This Hyundai Super Bowl commercial stars Rachel Dratch as a dialect coach who tries to teach MBA star David Ortiz a Boston accent for a commercial. So meta. “Bettah drive us,” its slogan reads.
Real Housewives of New Jersey Teresa Giudice and Caroline Manzo star in this Sabra Hummus Super Bowl commercial. As Housewives fans know, Teresa and Caroline are mortal enemies who haven’t spoken in years. The ad is essentially an awkward conversation between the two as they dip pieces of bread in hummus. “Dip’s about to get real,” its slogan reads.
You may want to hide your kids from this Planters Super Bowl commercial which—spoiler alert—ends with the death of Mr. Peanut. The commercial starts with Mr. Peanut on a road trip with Matt Walsh and Wesley Snipes. When the crash off a cliff, Mr. Peanut sacrifices himself to save his friends. RIP, Mr. Peanut.
10 Best Super Bowl Halftime Shows
Before Jennifer Lopez and Shakira take the stage for the Super Bowl, join us as we count down the 10 most spectacular Super Bowl halftime performances ever.
Agree with our picks? Disagree? Tweet us at @Billboard with your comments.
10. Coldplay, Beyonce and Bruno Mars, 2016
When they debuted as an alt-rock act in 2000 with “Yellow,” it was unthinkable that Coldplay would eventually ascend to Super Bowl status. Well, over the years Coldplay took over the planet with their introspective soft rock, and before headlining Super Bowl 50, they added some dance grooves to their music and colors to their palette with the A Head Full of Dreams LP. The booty-shaking, Technicolor Coldplay was on full display at Super Bowl 50, but more importantly, they brought out two artists with PhDs in dance to make things iconic. Bruno Mars and Beyonce brought then-new hits “Uptown Funk!” and “Formation,” respectively, and the ensuing showdown between their dance troupes was irresistible. Major kudos to Coldplay for letting two other artists steal their own halftime show.
9. Michael Jackson, 1993
Eager to keep viewers glued to their televisions, the NFL whipped up the Biggest Freaking Halftime Show Ever, starring Michael Jackson. The late King of Pop whipped viewers into a frenzy with a lip-synched medley of “Jam,” “Billie Jean” and “Black or White.” MJ then cued up a snippet of “We Are The World” as the crowd turned over cards revealing drawings by the children of Los Angeles. And just in case viewers missed his message of harmony, MJ concluded with “Heal the World,” while surrounded by 3,500 youngsters, as a blow-up globe deployed on the 50 yard line.
8. Paul McCartney, 2005
A purported “safe choice” by the NFL following the previous year’s “Nipplegate” controversy featuring Timberlake and Janet Jackson, McCartney signaled the transition from contemporary pop acts to classic rock legends performing at halftime. Atop an X-shaped stage made of video projectors, the ex-Beatle first warmed up with “Drive My Car.” He then followed up with “Get Back,” before trading his guitar for a piano during a fireworks-laden rendition of Wings’ James Bond theme, “Live and Let Die.” Saving his best for last, McCartney signed off with “Hey Jude,” during which the 84,000 in attendance at Jacksonville’s Alltel Stadium all joined in for the iconic coda.
7. Janet Jackson & Justin Timberlake, 2004
It was the day that the phrase “wardrobe malfunction” entered the American vernacular. Debate about whether Justin Timberlake “accidentally” exposed Janet’s nipple while ripping off a portion of her costume has raged since that Houston halftime. FCC fines have been assessed, thrown out and appealed in court, but the court of popular opinion is still out over why Jackson appeared to bear the brunt of the backlash and career impact while Timberlake seemed to walk away fairly scot-free. But bedazzled breast or not, you have to admit that J&J put on a pretty kick-ass show. It’s a shame that what most people remember is just the last two seconds.
6. Lady Gaga, 2017
Opening with Lady Gaga singing a medley of “God Bless America” and “This Land Is Your Land” from the roof of the Super Bowl stadium, the New York City pop star then launched herself from the heavens down onto the stage, singing dance-pop favorites “Poker Face,” “Born This Way,” “Bad Romance” and more. It was certainly one of the most visually stunning and vocally impressive halftime shows in Super Bowl history, and her stage exit is probably the best the show has ever seen: She mic dropped, caught a football toss and hopped off a staircase into nothingness. Forgot taking a bow or flashing a smile — that’s how you end a show.
5. Beyonce, 2013
After her silhouette was lit on fire, Beyoncé emerged from a cloud of smoke with an inspired display of hits (including “Love on Top” and “Crazy in Love”) and multimedia indulgence during her Super Bowl XLVII halftime show performance. And that was all before Destiny’s Child’s long-rumored reunion commenced when Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams shot out from under the stage like pistons to join Bey for “Bootylicious,” “Independent Women” and “Single Ladies.” During Beyonce’s reign on the halftime stage, she was also backed by dozens of female dancers and band members (including a killer horn section), and innovative animation screens with duplicate Bey’s running wild.
4. Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, 2009
In 2009, the Boss beckoned viewers to step away from the guac and “put the chicken fingers down” before proceeding to rock Tampa for the next 12 minutes. Though Bruce turned down several prior invitations to perform at the big game, Springsteen’s set was proof that good things come to those that wait. The E Street Band rocked through a four-song set of crowd favorites, but the biggest hit came when Jersey’s finest slammed into a TV camera with his crotch during “10th Avenue Freeze Out.”
3. Madonna, 2012
Riding a huge buzz for her then-forthcoming album MDNA, Madonna charged into her Super Bowl XLVI halftime performance as the quasi-gladiatorial captain of a cheerleading squad that included LMFAO, Nicki Minaj, M.I.A., and CeeLo Green. Amid Roman soldiers, Madge entered the field on a golden throne to belt out longtime favorite “Vogue” before being joined by LMFAO for a “Party Rock Anthem”/”Sexy And I Know It” infused take on her 2000 hit “Music.” Sure, the Material Girl slipped a bit while dancing in those thigh-high heeled boots, but her Super Bowl gig’s most talked about moment came when M.I.A. and Minaj joined her for fresh single “Give Me All Your Luvin’.” It happened fast, but everyone watching at home certainly saw M.I.A.’s mischievous middle finger, which sparked its own mini-“Nipplegate”-esque controversy. However, Madge’s epic “Like A Prayer” finale, aided by CeeLo and a huge robed choir, ensured that the 12-minute spectacle ended with the focus right back on the music.
2. U2, 2002
Less than five months after the tragedies of September 11, 2001, U2 brought the heart-shaped stage from their Elevation tour to the gridiron. The band kicked off with “Beautiful Day,” but it was their 9/11 tribute that captured the most attention. As they played “Where the Streets Have No Name,” a scrolling backdrop featured the names of all of the victims who perished in the attacks and Bono finished the song by opening his jacket to reveal the stars and stripes in its lining.
1. Prince, 2007
Long known for erotically-charged performances, Prince was a curious halftime choice only three years post-Nipplegate. While he did wield that purple, unpronounceable-symbol-shaped guitar in an unabashedly phallic way behind a screen, the ecstatic genius of Prince’s performance was the way he actually played the instrument. The rocker powered through his own classics (“1999,” “Let’s Go Crazy”) and the classics of others (“Proud Mary,” “All Along the Watchtower”). But the explosive coda was “Purple Rain,” which had the stadium full of testosterone-pumped football fanatics waving their arms and howling in falsetto as, yes, an actual downpour swamped Miami’s Dolphin Stadium.
It’s that time of year again. On Sunday, Feb. 2, Super Bowl LIV will pit the San Francisco 49ers against the Kansas City Chiefs in a battle that will crown football’s newest champion. And while “The Big Game” as advertisers are force to call it is a massively viewed event, for some, it’s the most anticipated commercials of the entire year that make the game worth watching.
Some commercials really do impress, some fall flat, and a select few become all-time classics. To help you get geared up for game day, and all the action that surrounds it, we dove deep and compiled 13 of the greatest Super Bowl commercials ever. Enjoy!
It’s a Tide Ad, Tide (2018)
Starring Stranger Things’ David Harbour, Tide rolled out a hilarious series of commercials in 2018 that poked fun at not just its competition on Super Bowl Sunday, but at the concept of these larger-than-life ads altogether. It was a clever, well-executed campaign highlighted by spectacular moments from Harbour, like when he shared a horse with the Old Spice guy, or took the place of Mr. Clean and showed off a few dance moves.
I’d Like To Buy the World a Coke, Coca-Cola (1971)
Not just one of the most iconic Super Bowl commercials of all time, this musical pitch for Coca-Cola is widely regarded as one of the best ads ever made. The commercial epitomized the spirit of the early ’70s by gathering an international cast of students and young adults from around Rome to join in a song about peace, love, and of course, buying the world a Coke. The ad was so popular when it aired that the tune was later re-recorded by The New Seekers and The Hillside Singers and released as a full-length song that became a hit record in both the U.S. and the U.K.
Up for Whatever, Budweiser (2014)
One of several Budweiser spots on this list, this ad sees the beer company take a unique approach by appealing to our penchant for “reality” TV. A woman walks up to an unsuspecting patron in a bar (no, really), and offers him a Bud on one condition: He has to be “up for whatever.” Accepting the challenge, he sets out on an epic journey that includes playing ping-pong with Arnold Schwarzenegger, getting fitted for a sports jacket by actress Minka Kelly, and running into Don Cheadle and a llama in an elevator. No doubt this was the best day of this guy’s life, and the commercial paid off in spades for Budweiser when it went viral, leading to a follow-up spot in 2015.
1984, Apple (1984)
Faced with stiff competition from IBM, Apple hired famed movie director Ridley Scott for this controversial but iconic ad that suggested viewers break the mold and opt for the upcoming Macintosh computer instead of those bland boxes. The powerful message: Avoid creating a society that can be likened to George Orwell’s terrifying one from the novel 1984. While Apple almost pulled the ad for fear of its reception, we’re glad they didn’t. It demonstrated what Steve Jobs was capable of, as well as his unwavering confidence in taking the company on its own path toward success.
Hey Kid, Catch, Coca-Cola (1979)
Way back in 1979, this Coca-Cola commercial tugged on viewers’ heartstrings. A n9-year-old boy approaches the limping, stone-faced Mean Joe Greene after a game, offering up some help and his Coca Cola, only to dejectedly walk away after handing it over. That is, until Green calls him back, smiles, and throws his jersey to him. Awww.
Secret Society, Avocados From Mexico (2017)
An instant classic as soon as it aired in 2017, Avocados From Mexico poked fun at well-known conspiracies and myths by portraying a secret society that is hilariously struggling to keep their secrets from being leaked to the general public. Adding to the society’s blemishes, the members fall victim to the subliminal advertising and start gorging themselves on guacamole after an amusing cameo from Jon Lovitz. Besides the hilarious premise, the ad is also quite effective in that it will have your taste buds salivating for the deliciousness of chips and guac.
Whassup, Budweiser (1999)
Chances are you cringe today if someone shouts “Whassup!” with his tongue outstretched. That’s sooo ’90s, right? But back when it first aired, Budweiser managed to create a pop-culture phrase through this single ad focused on a group of African-American buddies, which led to a series of others over the next few years. The funniest follow-up came two years later, and involved a group of Caucasian males with their much more, er, refined version, called “What are you doing?”
Crazy Legs, Levi’s (2002)
You can’t keep your eyes off this teenager strutting down the street doing his own crazy “dance” to Control Machete’s Si Señor. As he bops to the tunes playing from his headphones, his legs, outfitted with a baggy pair of Levi’s jeans, seem to take on a life of their own. As he walks past store windows, even his reflection has its own moves in mind. It’s mesmerizing.
Baby, E-Trade (2008)
E-Trade somehow managed to make investments trendy and cool with this clever series of ads that showcased adorable little ones talking about the importance of trading and investing. The mannerisms, lip movements, and comedian Pete Holmes’ voice-over simply made these commercials too cute to resist, and had us all ready to hand over our portfolios to the savvy, pint-sized spokesperson.
Cindy Crawford, Pepsi (1992)
Perfectly exemplifying the innocence of young boys, and suggesting the insatiable desire for Pepsi, this early ’90s commercial had men’s eyes bugging out, only to leave them laughing in the end with its clever twist. The commercial is so iconic that Pepsi re-created it as an homage of sorts decades later.
The Force, Volkswagen (2011)
This 2012 Passat commercial is still topical today due to the recent release of Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi. In the ad, a young boy in a Darth Vader costume walks around his house trying desperately to use “The Force” to move anything in his home. Clearly disappointed, he runs outside when his father arrives home to try one last time. He outstretches his hands toward the car, and well, his reaction to what happens next is priceless. It’s no surprise this ad has become the most-shared Super Bowl video of all time.
Puppy Love, Budweiser (2014)
Before The Force took the throne, Budweiser’s Puppy Love commercial was the most-shared Super Bowl video of all time. Animal lovers couldn’t resist shedding a tear as they watched a small dog and its Clydesdale friend refuse to be separated. Best buds forever. See what we did there?
Wise Guy, Pepsi (1990)
Ray Charles didn’t shy away from having a little fun with this 1990 commercial that had him proclaim his love for Diet Pepsi, only to have the blind musician pick up a can of Coke. Upon tasting the switched-up soda, he asks, “Who’s the wise guy?” It was an unexpected angle for the ad to take, which made it that much more memorable.
Super Bowl 54 kicks off at 6:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Feb. 2 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
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Super Bowl LII is quickly approaching, and if you’re even slightly tuned in to the sports world, then you’ve heard from enough Patriots fans (and haters) to last a lifetime. Perhaps the NFL should consider changing their official slogan to “New England versus everybody”—does that have a ring to it? Whether you’re looking forward to another Tom Brady Super Bowl or totally dreading it, there’s still at least one element of surprise to get excited about: the commercials. While football is ostensibly the main focus of the big game, we all have at least a few friends who will only be paying attention to the commercials. Super Bowl ads have become a huge deal, and a huge industry. A 30-second spot for an ad costs a whopping $5 million, and according to multiple studies, 50% of Super Bowl viewers tune in for the commercials alone.
This is the big show for advertisers, the one time a year where they can convince us to stick around during commercial breaks, instead of getting up to go pee or get a second helping of wings. While we’ve certainly seen our fair share of flops (anyone remember that uncomfortable Nationwide spot from 2015?), for the most part, the Super Bowl has been bringing the perfection concoction of emotion and entertainment for decades. From Cindy Crawford’s 1992 sultry Pepsi campaign (take notes, Kendall), to Apple’s “1984” Mac ad (which contributed to over $150 million in sales within the first 100 days), to the Budweiser commercial that left us bawling (who knew beer could be so emotional?), these ads have brought us together as a country, through laughter and tears. After all, nothing says “America” quite like the Bowl’s annual marriage of sports and consumerism. Here’s a look back at some of the most iconic and memorable ads that have aired during the Super Bowl.
At Biteable, we like to think we know a thing or two about creating great video commercials and ads. For fun, we decided to pool together some of our favourite commercials of all time to provide inspiration for your next video ad.
What makes a great TV commercial or video ad?
Since the very first television commercial ran — for $9 — more than 75 years ago, television advertising has grown into a $75 billion/year industry. Though TV’s market share has dropped as many viewers cut the cord, internet advertising has ensured that video ads are more popular than ever.
So what does it take to make a good ad? Well, as you’ll see in the examples below, there are a few common traits the best commercials share.
They’re memorable: From “Wassup!” to “Where’s the Beef?” the most successful ads have a way of ingraining themselves in your memory (whether you want them to or not!) Today’s average urbanite sees some 5000 advertising messages in a single day. Your job, as an advertiser, is to cut through the noise and stand out with a message that’s relevant, different, and effectively represents your brand identity.
They’re shareworthy: For maximum exposure, your ad should make people want to talk about it with other people, both in real life and on social media. Usually the ads that inspire that kind of dialogue have elicited some kind of emotional reaction: they’re funny, shocking, weird, or emotionally touching.
They communicate the brand’s values: The best ads capture the brand’s voice and identity, and communicate the ethos behind the company. Your audience should watch the ad and think, “this brand is for people like me.”
Call to action: Lastly, an effective commercial makes it clear what it wants you to do next, whether it’s to visit a website, lease a car, or buy some candy. While some advertisers skip this step, incorporating the brand more subtly or focusing on awareness, you can really only get away with this if you’re already a household name like Nike or Apple.
Let’s get this out of the way: humor is hard. What’s hilarious to one person might be downright annoying to another. When it’s effective, a funny ad can grab attention and inspire positive feelings for a brand. But a joke that falls flat can do the opposite, or even inspire a negative backlash.
Moreover, experts are split on whether even a hilarious, popular ad will actually translate to increased revenue and awareness. In some cases, a funny ad can cause a so-called “vampire effect” in which viewers remember the ad, but not the product or company it’s associated with.
The key, it seems, is to strike just the right balance between being funny, relevant, and informative. Here are some of the most effective, and funniest commercials we’ve seen:
Old Spice: “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” (2010)
When Old Spice realized that women made the majority of purchasing decisions when it came to men’s body wash products, they took a different approach with their next campaign. While the tagline “don’t let your man smell like a woman,” might not fly these days, the genuinely funny non-sequitur dialogue and Isaiah Mustafa’s perfect delivery made it a massive hit.
Old Spice’s ad was perhaps the pinnacle of the absurdist, unpredictable, meme-able humor many advertisers have embraced, in hopes of creating a viral hit. And it worked. The ad took home nearly every major industry award that year and currently stands at over 55 million views on YouTube. Old Spice, meanwhile, has continued to hone their off-beat brand voice with a hugely popular follow-up campaign starring actor Terry Crews.
Reebok: “Terry Tate, Office Linebacker” (2003)
Slapstick violence: since the earliest days of comedy it’s been a foolproof way to make ‘em laugh. Reebok’s Super Bowl XXXVII ad had plenty, along with an amusing premise (boosting office productivity), an element of surprise, and solid one-liners and delivery.
The spot was roundly praised by critics and viewers alike that year, though whether it actually succeeded in boosting Reebok’s brand is questionable. According to one poll after it aired, just 55% of viewers recalled that the ad was affiliated with Reebok. Though Reebok considered it nonetheless a success, citing a 4-fold increase in online sales, it’s still a good reminder to consider whether misaligned subject matter may cause your ad to become a victim of the vampire effect.
John West Salmon: “Bear” (2000)
UK seafood company John West’s ad begins with a serene, nature documentary-style shot of bears fishing, as a narrator describes the scene in his best David Attenborough impression. Then things takes an unexpected turn.
The ad’s effective use of three time-honored comedy traditions — the abrupt shift in tone, animals, and, yes, the well-timed groin kick — quickly made it a viral sensation in those early Internet days. The ad shot to the top of every “best commercial list” and by 2006 it had more than 300 million views, making it the sixth most viewed online video at the time. It also won a number of awards and was voted “funniest ad of all time” in Campaign Live’s 2008 poll.
Snickers: “Hungry Betty White” (2010)
When Snickers launched their “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign with Betty White (and Abe Vigoda) during the 2010 Super Bowl, it was a turning point for the brand and the 88-year-old Golden Girl.
That ad won the night — going viral and topping every best commercials list that year — and also kicked off a massively successful campaign that increased sales for the company by $376 million in two years. It’s also credited with revitalizing White’s career, who followed up the spot with an appearance hosting Saturday Night Live and quickly landed other roles.
The success of the long-running campaign overall was largely thanks to the global approach Snickers and ad agency BBDO took, featuring celebrities famed in each global market (you can see regional versions here.) But it all started here, with a beloved octogenarian getting crash-tackled into some mud.
Animated television ads are nothing new. They’ve been a mainstay of advertising since at least 1941, when the first animated commercial aired, and grew in popularity in the decades that followed.
At first, they relied on hand-drawn cel animation which made them far more expensive than the live action ads that dominated. Thanks to advancements in technology, high-end animated adverts eventually became cheaper to produce than their live action counterparts, but that’s not the only reason advertisers like them.
As you’ll see in our picks for the best animated commercials, animated characters are endearing and relatable, appealing to people of all ages, and they’re capable of performing actions that would be impossible to film with real-life actors (or animals).
Metro Trains: “Dumb Ways to Die” (2012)
The goal of public service announcements is to change people’s behavior, or inspire action, usually through a shocking or impactful message. While there have been some memorable awareness campaigns over the years, few are as funny — or as popular — as Metro Trains Melbourne’s “Dumb Ways to Die.”
The video features a catchy song and cute animated characters being killed in a variety of absurd ways. The message is simple: Be safe around trains. The campaign was a massive hit, becoming the most awarded campaign in the history of Cannes and racking up more than 164 million views on YouTube to date. Popular spin-off content like a mobile game, toys, and a children’s book soon followed, extending the reach of the campaign.
Best of all, it seems to have been successful in its main goal of improving safety around trains — Metro credited the campaign with reducing the number of “near-miss” accidents by more than 30%.
Chipotle: “Back to the Start” (2011)
Set to Willie Nelson’s cover of Coldplay’s “The Scientist,” Chipotle’s first national TV ad follows a farmer’s journey from industrialized farming to adopting more sustainable practices.
Though the award-winning two-minute ad was released online and played in movie theatres months earlier, it wasn’t until it aired during the Grammy Awards in early 2012 that it picked up steam. Impressively, many critics and viewers agreedd that the stop-motion commercial upstaged Coldplay’s actual performance at the Grammys that night.
Honda: “Paper” (2015)
Honda’s ad “Paper” takes us through the automaker’s 60-year history, beginning with founder Soichiro Honda’s idea for using a radio generator to power his wife’s bicycle. The idea behind the ad was to demonstrate “Honda thinking” and “all the people that touch our wide range of products along the way.”
Directed by PES, the Emmy Award-winning ad was created over four months, incorporating thousands of hand-drawn illustrations by dozens of illustrators and animators. The paper flipping was captured using stop-motion techniques, with real people carefully manipulating each image, one frame at a time.
John Lewis: “The Bear and the Hare” (2013)
UK retailer John Lewis’ annual Christmas campaign has become something of a tradition, signalling the start of the holiday season in Britain. Set to Lily Allen’s cover of Keane’s 2004 hit “Somewhere Only We Know”, this two-minute advert from 2013 combines stop motion and traditional hand-drawn animation by Disney veterans.
The result is a heartwarming story of two unlikely animal friends sharing Christmas. The campaign won a number of awards, racked up millions of views, and was credited with boosting sales of alarm clocks by 55% in the week following its launch.
You don’t need to be an animator to create your own animated commercials and videos. Biteable makes it easy with hundreds of free animated video templates. Get started here.
There are ads that make you laugh, some that make you cry, and then there are those ads that make you say “Wait, what?” These weird commercials fall squarely in the last category.
While there are vintage examples of bizarre ads, many experts agree that we largely have the Super Bowl — and advertisers’ never-ending quest for online virality — to thank for the relatively recent rise of “oddvertising.”
E-Trade: “Monkey” (2000)
A chimpanzee in an E-Trade t-shirt stands on a bucket in a suburban garage,lip-syncing “La Cucaracha” as two off-rhythm, flannel-clad seniors clap along. Then it ends with a hilariously meta tagline.
A favorite of this experts over at Ad Week, this subversive 30-second spot originally aired during the 2000 Super Bowl. At the time, Ad Age praised it as “Impossibly stupid, impossibly brilliant.” We’d have to agree.
Casper: “Can’t Sleep?” (2017)
If you missed mattress company Casper’s bizarre campaign, don’t feel bad. The series of 15-second ads aired on a handful of channels at 2 a.m., targeting the insomniac audience with “hypnotic and surreal” imagery and a toll-free number.
As Ad Week explains, viewers that call the number are met with a phone tree of equally nonsensical options like press 3 to “travel back in time to the 1990s” or 7 to “learn the history of the cocktail wiener.”
Perhaps oddest of all, none of the options leads to a call to action or sales pitch, though you can eventually reach a rambling message that reveals Casper’s real sales phone number.
Calvin Klein: “Obsession” (1986)
Perfume commercials are widely known for being bizarre — and they’re regularly the subject of parody as a result. Calvin Klein’s “Obsession” series of ads from the 1980s was no exception. Channeling art house cinema and the films of Ingmar Bergman, these ads were dreamlike, highly stylized, and, yes, somewhat incomprehensible.
And, true to form, the ad was famously lampooned by Saturday Night Live, in the show’s pitch-perfect “Compulsion” sketch.
Mountain Dew: “Puppy Monkey Baby” (2016)
Finally, we’d be remiss to leave out this somewhat nightmare-inducing Super Bowl ad from Mountain Dew. The soda company’s 2016 ad for its Kickstarter drink generated a massive response when it aired, earning 2.2 million online views and 300,000 social media interactions in one night.
Viewers were split. Some found the ad and its CGI mascot to be hilarious, while others thought it was creepy, annoying, or stupid. But the overall consensus? It definitely grabbed your attention.
Emotional & Touching Commercials
There’s no shame in crying at commercials, and in some cases you’d need a heart of stone to avoid it. No, we won’t make you watch Sarah McLachlan’s heart wrenching ASPCA ads, but you may still want to have some tissues handy for the emotional commercials below.
Extra: “Origami” (2013)
A parent-child relationship, a “time flies” theme — it’s a tried and true formula for tearjerker commercials. While there are more than a few heartwarming examples out there, this one-minute spot for Wrigley’s Extra gum is a sweet standout.
Starring a father, a daughter, and some gum-wrapper cranes, it’s a touching, nearly wordless commercial that’s about much more than gum.
WATERisLIFE: “Kenya Bucket List” (2013)
Due to unsafe drinking water, 1 in 5 children in Kenya won’t reach the age of 5. That’s the premise behind this moving awareness video from clean water nonprofit WATERisLIFE.
We follow an adorable 4-year-old Maasai boy named Nkaitole who’s never left his village, as he goes “on an adventure to do all the things he’s always wanted to do before he dies.”
It’s a beautiful and heartbreaking way to drive home the message that Nkaitole, and thousands of children like him, are in dire need of safe water.
IAMS: “A Boy and His Dog Duck” (2015)
Here’s another that falls squarely into the coming of age, life is short category — this time for the dog lovers. Starring a cute little boy and a dog named Duck, we watch as the two grow older, side by side, and eventually learn how the pup got his unusual name.
No, IAMS isn’t exactly breaking new ground here. Yes, it’s a bit emotionally manipulative. And yes, you might just cry anyway.
Thai Life Insurance: “Unsung Hero” (2014)
In parts of Asia, Thailand in particular, advertisers seem to be all about making viewers cry. One company, Thai Life Insurance, is especially well-known for producing massively popular, touching commercials.
“Unsung Hero,” created by Ogilvy & Mather Bangkok, is just one example, and it’s one of the less depressing ads the brand has put out. The agency says that making people cry isn’t their “main objective.” The purpose is to inspire people to “appreciate the value of life, which is a core value of the brand.” Tears, it seems, are just a common side effect.
Best Super Bowl Commercials
For millions of Americans, the Super Bowl is really about the commercials. While older viewers tend to still be interested in the game, one poll found that the majority of viewers under 30 prefer the ads to the halftime show or the action on the field.
Advertisers are well aware of this fact. Every year, the ads get more over the top — more celebrity cameos, more elaborate special effects — and every year the cost to reach that ad-loving audience increases. In 2018, the cost for a 30-second spot during Super Bowl LII topped $5 million.
Apple “1984” (1984)
Directed by Ridley Scott, Apple’s ad references George Orwell’s novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, positioning the company’s soon-to-launch personal computer as the hero that would free us from “Big Brother” (possibly a jab at Apple’s rival, IBM.)
The full 60-second spot aired just once, during Super Bowl XVIII in January 1984, but its influence has extended far beyond. It’s been credited with being the ad that made Super Bowl commercials “a thing” in the first place. The Clio Awards (kind of like the Oscars of advertising) put it to their Hall of Fame while Ad Age named it the #1 Super Bowl commercial of all time.
Coca-Cola: “Hey Kid, Catch!” (1979)
A cute kid, a sports legend, a sweet moment — Coca-Cola’s “Hey Kid, Catch!” commercial is perhaps the quintessential Super Bowl ad. Debuting in 1979, it most notably aired during Super Bowl XIV in 1980.
Starring NFL legend ‘Mean’ Joe Greene, the ad won a Clio award and was so popular it was later the inspiration for the 1981 made-for-tv movie “The Steeler and the Pittsburgh Kid.”
But its impact was even more profound for some viewers. According to the copywriter responsible for the script, “Joe was perhaps the first black male to appear in a national brand commercial, and it had a profound effect at the time. The letters we got were full of gratitude and excitement.”
Monster.com: “When I Grow Up…” (1999)
According to Ad Age, prior to this commercial airing, Monster.com was getting around 1.5 unique visitors each month. In the months that followed, they averaged 2.5 million visitors.
Filmed in stark black and white, the commercial parodied the aspirational ads companies like Nike are known for, with kids matter-of-factly stating they wanted to “be replaced on a whim” and “claw my way up to middle management.” A dead-on send-up of corporate America, it is at once wry, unconventional, funny, and motivating. And overnight, it transformed Monster’s brand and won a number of industry awards along the way.
Volkswagen: “The Force” (2011)
7 years after it originally aired, Volkswagen’s commercial for its 2012 Passat remains the most watched Super Bowl ad of all time. The ad struck a perfect balance — a beloved movie franchise, a tiny kid dressed up as an iconic villain, a cute family moment, a humorous payoff.
And it benefited even more from the approach the car company and their agency, Deutsch, took in releasing it. The conventional advertising wisdom at the time was to keep Super Bowl ads under wraps until the big game. Volkswagen opted to put the spot on YouTube four days ahead of time. The ad got 1 million views overnight, and 16 million more before the game had even started. According to Deutsch, it had “paid for itself before it ever ran” and went on to pick up multiple Cannes and Clio awards.
We hope this best commercials round-up has been inspiring — or at least entertaining! Remember that you don’t have to have a Super Bowl budget to make an effective ad. Check out Biteable’s ad maker to get started for free!
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