The 30 Best Super Bowl Ads Ever
Time to face facts, everyone. The Super Bowl is bearing down us like a big, glitzy brother bowl, and you know what that means: Super Bowl commercials and more Harbaugh tales than any sports fan should ever have to consume.
Since you’re probably feeling a bit burned out on the latter of those two, I figured we’d delve into the commercial side of things.
It took a little time, a lot of watching monkeys perpetrate mischief and a splash of good old-fashioned dynamite, but I think I’ve mined out the best gems in the history of Super Bowl commercials.
Some are iconic and moving bits of cinematic beauty. Others involve throwing out money and hit-sticking frail office workers.
They’re the 30 best Super Bowl commercials we’ve ever seen, and I hope you’re ready to get sold on them again.
30. Doritos' '3D Ali Landry' (1998)
Best Part: The part when you wonder aloud, “Why in the hell did they stop making 3-D Doritos?”
It’s goofy and nonsensical—just like the snack itself.
This 1998 commercial for 3D featuring Ali Landry appeared to be just an excuse for Frito-Lay to put the former Miss USA in a laundry room (get it?) and throw some puffy chips around.
Why not? Works for me.
29. Chevy's '2012' (2012)
Best Part: “Twinkie?”
The world is over in Chevy’s most recent Super Bowl commercial, but that doesn’t mean mankind doesn’t have time to enjoy a Twinkie in remembrance of their late buddy, Ford-Drivin’ Dave.
28. Bud Light's 'Jackie Moon' (2008)
Best Part: “Bud Light...a magical blend of barley, hops and delicious alcohol.”
Mmm...drink it in—it always goes down smooth.
Will Ferrell delivers line after edgy line as Jackie Moon and even manages to throw some action the makeup girl's way in this less-than-typical classic Super Bowl commercial.
27. Hyundai's 'Future Favre' (2010)
Best Part: Brett Favre’s patented “I’m never quitting” look at the ground.
Hyundai rang up a real treat with this commercial mocking the future of pro football.
It’s a funny advertisement, and Brett Favre plays himself perfectly. It’s a great little television spot—that is, unless Favre comes out of retirement one day and ruins everything forever.
I may have just jinxed us. Crap.
26. Bridgestone's 'Beaver' (2011)
Best Part: Rare original use of the cute animal in Super Bowl commercials.
Dancing monkeys and elderly people are old hat for Super Bowl commercials.
But middle-aged driver saves beaver, beaver saves driver? We're listening, Bridgestone.
25. E-Trade's 'Out the Wazoo' (2010)
Best Part: “Out of the way! This man has money comin’ out the wazoo!”
Well, E-Trade finally pin-pointed it—the location of the legendary wazoo.
Now if only we can only find some way to provoke the right kind of green out of it...
24. Miller High Life's 1-Second Ads (2009)
Best Part: “BEAN DIP!”
Drinking cheap beer and yelling incoherently in public is a hallowed American tradition, and the good people at Miller decided to showcase their patriotism alongside the “champag-nay of beers” by producing a series of quick one-second advertisements during Super Bowl XLIII.
You can’t always catch what the Miller Man is saying, but you can relate to his style.
23. Bud Light's 'Magic Fridge' (2006)
Best Part: “Guys, hurry up! The magic fridge is back!”
After watching this commercial I wake up every day and light a candle of offering in my “Wizard Whiskey Breakfast Nook.”
Alas, I’m still waiting for a small table filled with hot flapjacks and bourbon to show up.
22. Tabasco's 'Exploding Mosquito' (2010)
Best Part: *Explosion*
Good Lord, you can almost smell the stink rising off this television spot.
And the sound—you can hear Duck Dynasty over there getting fatter and less intelligent with each bite.
But who cares? Tabasco sauce is damn delicious, and that’s pretty much all that matters in this sweaty and clever commercial.
21. Nike's 'Hare Jordan' (1992)
Best Part: “This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
Oh, how it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Bugs’ words at the end of this minute-long commercial were truly prophetic, as the partnership between Nike and Looney Tunes would take off and grow into Space Jam—a film cinephiles rank alongside The Shawshank Redemption and Schindler's List as watershed moments in the history of cinematography.*
20. Budweiser's 'Zebra Referee' (2003)
Best Part: is obvious.
Just two guys watching their horses play football.
Budweiser rarely misses the mark with its Clydesdale commercials, but this one strikes a perfect bulls-eye with its simple, Forrest Gump style of humor.
“I believe that's a zebra.” And that’s all I have to say about that.
19. Snickers' 'Betty White' (2010)
Best Part: “That’s not what your girlfriend says.”
Super Bowl commercials with talking babies, monkeys and crazy old people are trite and gimmicky as all hell.
That being said, Betty White isn’t just some old woman—she is a living legend, and an American treasure as invaluable to our society as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Emilio Estevez.
And she nails it with the wise-guy trash talk in this commercial.
18. E-Trade's 'Trading Baby’ (2008)
Best Part: “A—don’t worry about it. I just look young.”
E-Trade’s “Trading Baby” commercials prove that anything can be funny when you have good writers and the right guy doing the voice-acting.
17. Wendy's 'Where's the Beef?' (1984)
Best Part: A certain question regarding a missing quantity of meat.
Wendy’s “Where the Beef?” commercial was a quirky and humorous bit of levity when it aired, and its success could be the reason we still see so many Super Bowl commercials centered on adorable elderly characters these days.
Unfortunately, hipsters (as well as Wendy’s) are doing their best to shoot a dead horse by attempting to revive “Where’s the Beef” with new commercials and t-shirts.
No one can let a good thing lie, can they?
16. McDonald's 'The Showdown' (1993)
Best Part: “Play yuh for it!”
You cannot help but love this commercial for the acting put on by Michael Jordan and Larry Bird.
There's something about the way the lines tumble from their mouths like roof tiles that truly smacks of theatrical brilliance—early shades of Sean Penn and Denzel Washington.
And the smash-cutting to shots of revolving Big Macs only enhances it all.
15. Gatorade's 'Michael Jordan vs. Himself' (2003)
Best Part: “Coulda dunked.”
Gatorade pulled out every last conceivable stop and fulfilled a dream for sports fans across America with this commercial that answers the question, “What would it look like if retired Michael Jordan played a young Michael Jordan?”
14. Chrysler's 'It's Halftime in America' (2012)
Best Part: The part where Clint Eastwood is a grizzled legend.
Clint Eastwood delivered a hell of a pep talk for America on the behalf of Chrysler, and the only thing missing was Eastwood ending it with:
“Now put down your deep-fried cheeseballs, turn off the boob tube and get your pansy a** to work.”
13. Budweiser's 'Bud Bowl' (1989)
Best Part: “Call the commissioner! Call the police! CALL SOMEBODY!!”
A mix of creativity and humor won the day for this classic Budweiser commercial. I just like to picture the meeting where this beaut of a commercial was conjured up.
“But what if the beer...played football?”
I would also like to take this chance to say that there’s no way in hell Budweiser would ever lose to Bud Light. The calorie count alone on Bud’s offensive line would allow them to have their way with the Lights.
12. NFL's 'Best Fans Ever' (2011)
Best Part: “Did I do that?” / “Hello, Newman.”
The National Football League took its fans on a trip down memory lane with this cheekily edited commercial full of football-related sitcom footage.
11. FedEx's 'Cast Away' (2003)
Best Part: “Just silly stuff.”
We all wanted to know what was in that damn package Tom Hanks safeguarded in Cast Away, and FedEx delivered that answer in the most priceless and fitting way possible.
10. Old Spice's 'The Man Your Man Could Smell Like' (2010)
Best Part: “It’s an oyster with two tickets to that thing you love.”
Ever since hitting the scene during this 2010 Super Bowl, the Old Spice guy (Isaiah Mustafa) has been one of the most entertaining recurring figures in advertising.
All of Old Spice’s commercials featuring Mustafa absolutely kill, and judging by their behind-the-scenes footage, making these scenery-changing television spots is no simple feat.
9. Volkswagen's 'The Force' (2011)
Best Part: The kid’s holy !@#$ body language upon ignition.
Simple. Nostalgic. Joy.
Volkswagen’s 2011 commercial spot featuring a young Star Wars fan finally harnessing the power of the Force brings me back to my days of fighting with retractable plastic lightsabers and rocking out to “The Saga Begins” by Weird Al Yankovic.
8. Xerox's 'Monks' (1977)
Best Part: The FTS look on Brother Dominic’s face after being ordered to produce 500 more copies.
Brother Dominic is a busy man, and he hasn’t seen a chick in eight months. Does he get any slack after a job well done hand-scribing his paper? Nope.
He gets sent back to do more.
So what’s a monk to do? It’s time to go to the copy store and use that convenient little 500-pound copying machine.
7. Budweiser's Frogs (1995)
Best Part: All of it.
If Budweiser was planning on making the most forgettably unforgettable commercials ever, it succeeded and then some.
There was no real reason why a commercial of frogs croaking the Budweiser name would end up being one of the most repeated and catchy phrases in Super Bowl commercial history, but that’s exactly what happened.
And it’s perfect.
6. Monster.com's 'What Do You Want to Be' (1999)
Best Part: “I want to have a brown nose.”
Monster.com laid it out plain and clear with this one—no one looks forward to a life of work where the brightest spot in your year is showing the new chick from Logistics your “O-Face.”
5. Budweiser's 'Wassup’ (2000)
Best Part: What do you think?
I could go on and on about the fun my friends and I had belting this line out over and over, but you already know what that’s like.
So just kick back, crack a Bud and call an old friend to catch up and ask him this very important question.
4. Reebok's 'Terry Tate, Office Linebacker' (2003)
Best Part: “THE PAIN TRAIN IS COMING! WOOH WOOH!”
Reebok’s commercials featuring Terry Tate, office linebacker, will stick with me for the rest of my life.
A decade has passed since this gem first aired, and to this day, I will still cry, “YOU KILL THE JOE, YOU MAKE SOME MO’!” if I see the blue refill light blinking on my Keurig coffee machine.
3. Apple's '1984' (1984)
Best Part: Hooters girl hammer toss/open-mouthed morons staring into the light.
Cool guys don’t look at explosions.
But cool companies like Apple, well, they crank out unforgettably cryptic Super Bowl commercials rife with Orwellian social commentary.
Apple’s Super Bowl commercial for its new Macintosh computer stood out from any advertisement ever seen before on television.
Nevertheless, its “stick-it-to-the-man” attitude turned heads and has since earned it a spot among the best commercials ever made.
2. Budweiser's 'Never Forget' Tribute (2002)
Best Part: The solemn kneel.
Slipping out of its role as a perennial Super Bowl jokester, Budweiser took time out in 2002 to pay tribute to those lost in the 9/11 tragedy.
It came off as a classy and genuinely heartfelt gesture, with the Budweiser Clydesdales simply kneeling in the direction of the lost World Trade Center towers.
It’s probably the most touching video to ever run during the Super Bowl.
1. Coke's 'Mean Joe Greene' (1979)
Best Part: *Sweat-soaked jersey lands in his arms* “Wooowww! Thanks, Mean Joe!”
It was the sweatiest, most stankin-est piece of clothing in the whole damn world. And this kid couldn’t have been happier to receive it.
Coke’s “Mean Joe” commercial has to be the most iconic sports-related commercial ever made, and I like to think that little kid is now a grown man who still cherishes the hell out of that funky jersey.
And still hasn’t washed it.