In an era where ad-free TV streaming is the norm and fast-forwarding through commercials is a given, the Super Bowl remains a remarkable exception. Here, the advertisements are not just tolerated; they are a central part of the spectacle. Companies spend millions of dollars hoping to capture our hearts, minds, and laughs. Let’s face it — while some of us are watching the game, others tune in just for the commercials. The best Super Bowl ads are discussed, shared, and remembered long after the game has ended. In today’s digital world, you can watch the ads online before the game starts and long after it ends. From heartwarming narratives and cutting-edge special effects to star-studded cameos, this list showcases the best Super Bowl commercials of all time. Which ones have staying power? You probably can already name one or two! Scroll down to find out if you’re right!
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Top 7 Super Bowl Commercials of All Time, Ranked
1. Coca-Cola: “Hey Kid, Catch” (1979)
This Super Bowl ad went viral long before it was a thing. According to Men’s Health, “This Coca-Cola spot starring ‘Mean’ Joe Greene was as elemental as it was charming and effective. Greene guzzles that Coke like his life depends on it, and the kid is all too happy to be gifted the player’s sweaty towel.”
This ad became so popular it was turned into an NBC TV movie that came out in 1981. Business Insider considers this commercial an “all-time classic.” Talk about Americana! Delish adds there’s nothing more red, white, and blue than a young kid giving a bottle of Coke to his football hero only to get his jersey in return.
2. Apple’s Macintosh Commercial (1984)
In 1984, everyone wasn’t walking around with an Apple iPhone in their pocket. The small, struggling computer company was trying to compete against the behemoth IBM, which had cornered the desktop market. So, the company created this ad to run during the Super Bowl. According to Entertainment Weekly, the next day people rushed to Apple stores and the company had a huge spike in sales. As they say, the rest is history and this Super Bowl commercial went into the hall of fame so to speak.
While this ad was a little bizarre, Business Insider says it was the first viral ad. It aired only once during the Super Bowl, but news stations across the world played it for weeks, giving Apple quite the bang for its buck. Directed by Blade Runner’s Ridley Scott was so risky, that Parade says Apple’s board of directors tried to put the kibosh on it. I bet they’re glad they didn’t.
3. Wendy’s: “Where’s the Beef?” (1984)
1984 had some pretty great Super Bowl Ads because this Wendy’s one comes in at number four on our list! You can’t go wrong with a bunch of old ladies examining a bun with barely any meat! Delish says this ad is a perfect example of an “oddball tagline, stylized production, and the inexplicable presence of three old ladies.”
The “Where’s the Beef” slogan is still used even today! Business Insider says the ad was perhaps one of the most successful Wendy’s commercials, helping boost the fast food chain’s revenue. The unknown actress who delivered the “Where’s the Beef” line, Clara Peller became an instant star after this ad aired. Parade says 1984 “was a good year for Super Bowl ads…and elderly ladies in advertising.”
4. McDonald’s: “The Showdown” McDonald’s (1993)
At the time, there were no bigger sports rivals than Larry Bird and Michael Jordan. McDonald’s paid them tons of money to team up in this ad which became an instant hit. According to Business Insider, the ad coined the phrase “nothing but net” and led to many remakes. You can’t beat Michael and Larry teaming up for a game of H-O-R-S-E for a Big Mac.
Delish writes this ad is “packed with loads of classic ’90s charm and a funky soundtrack to boot.” No one believed the two would have a showdown over a Big Mac, but Men’s Health says “The mix of tension, camaraderie, and respect in their chemistry is what makes this such a great rewatch.
5. Snickers: “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” (2010)
Everyone loves Betty White, which is exactly what Snicker’s was betting on with this 2010 spot featuring the actress getting sacked during a game of pickup football. Business Insider says the ad was so popular it continued with other stars like the late Robin Williams.
White only had two lines in the ad and Entertainment Weekly says “She absofreakinlutely nails them. All hail Betty White.” The classic line “You’re not you when you’re hungry” is now nearly synonymous with Snickers thanks to this commercial! Delish believes it is due in large part to Betty White.
6. Pepsi: Cindy Crawford (1992)
You can’t go wrong with a supermodel selling Pepsi’s newly redesigned can. Business Insider says it worked so well Pepsi brought Cindy Crawford back for the Super Bowl in 2018. People agrees saying Crawford looked just as good when she recreated the spot in 2018, but “nothing can top the original.”
The Pepsi spot was so popular, that Cindy slipped into the same outfit in 2021 to raise money for cancer research. Just like Crawford never seems to age, Men’s Health calls the original spot “timeless.”
7. Old Spice: “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” (2010)
This ad rounds out our list because it appealed to women in the Super Bowl audience, instead of men. According to The Pioneer Woman it never actually aired during the game. It was released online and then aired on TV. People says the actor, Isaiah Mustafa looked great shirtless, but it was his “straight-to-the-camera delivery” that sold Old Spice.
Like many of the other ads, this became an ongoing stint for Isaiah Mustafa. Delish loves it because it is a good balance between “tongue-in-cheek” and “oh-so-cool.” The ad increased sales of Old Spice Red Zone Body Wash by some 60 percent, making it one of the top campaigns of the 21st century, according to Advertising Age.
- Men’s Health
- Entertainment Weekly
- The Pioneer Woman
- Good Housekeeping
- Business Insider
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