10 best beer commercials of all time

beer commercials

​​The global beer market was valued at $821.39 billion in 2023 and looks set to hit $1,167.47 billion by 2032. So, it’s hardly surprising that companies spend big bucks every year on beer commercials. 

Thanks to decades of heartfelt storytelling, cultural phenomenon, and good old-fashioned nostalgia, beer ads have earned a special place in our hearts. 

That’s why I’m taking a trip down memory lane to serve you 10 of my all-time favorite beer commercials. 

Warning: This article may cause an intense desire to bring “wassup” back.

Ten beer commercials that caused a cultural reset

I have to admit, I miss the good old days of beer commercials. You know, the cinematic quality, oscar-winning stars, and just plain silliness.

But for those who say beer commercials are a lost art form, I beg to differ. There have been some pretty impressive ads of late, too.

My top 10 list features some “oldies but goodies” and a few newer beer ads that give me the feels. 

1. Coors Light – John Wayne and R. Lee Ermey (1992)

Fellow movie buffs will love this one. 

In 1992, Coors Light beer made John Wayne fans’ dreams come true by bringing him back to life for a beer commercial.

In a stroke of genius, R. Lee Ermey revived his Full Metal Jacket role to play an angry drill sergeant looking for his beers.

We see him furiously blaming his recruits for stealing his cold ones. Then, all of a sudden, John Wayne appears. As it turns out, Wayne had taken the beers and was not in the least bit sorry.

You guys may be thinking: Wow, John Wayne was still alive in 1992?

No. No, he wasn’t.

The commercial used old footage of Wayne, repurposing it to fit the scene. Fans went wild, as this was one of the first times this had been done, especially for an ad spot. 🤌 

2. Budweiser – “Frogs” (1995)

Who knew Budweiser’s “Frogs” would become its own cultural phenomenon, inspiring a Simpson parody and spin-off merchandise?

The idea is simple. 

We begin in a swamp. It’s nighttime. There are three frogs. There’s a close-up of the first frog croaking his name, “Bud.” Then, his pals “Weis” and “Er” chime in, repeating their names over and over.

Of course, together, they say Budweiser.

Then the camera pans out to show a bar with a neon Budweiser sign.

It’s so good that Adweek named it one of the “most iconic alcohol campaigns in advertising history.”

For more iconic beer ads, check out our best beer commercials article!

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3. Guinness – “Surfer” (1999)

Disclaimer: I’m Irish, so I may be slightly biased here, but I think Guinness commercials are a masterclass in storytelling. It was hard to choose my favorite, but this classic from 1999 nabbed the top spot.

In true Guinness fashion, the “Surfer” ad has all the cinematic wow factor of a feature-length film.

It starts with a man and his friends just waiting to catch the perfect wave, a nice nod to the well-known wait for the perfect two-part pour (if you know, you know).

As the music builds, the surfers hit the water just as a stampede of wild horses crashes into the waves.

There’s a race. 

The voiceover says, “He waits. That’s what he does. And I’ll tell you what. Tick followed tock followed tick followed tock followed tick.”

Your heart beats faster. 

And then, as the music hits a crescendo, our protagonist outlasts his buddies and rides out the wave to the bitter end. 

Nostalgic, heart-pumping, genius, it’s one of the best beer ads in history.

4. Budweiser – “Wassup” (1999)

There’s a special place in my little millennial heart for Budweiser’s 1999 beer commercial. The genius behind this ad is its simplicity.

We see a couple of guys sipping on some Buds and greeting each other by shouting “wassup” down the landline. Ahh, it takes me back.

For some reason, it became a cultural zeitgeist, even sparking one of the earliest internet memes, “wassup superfriends.” 

What makes it so great?

Well, for a start, it’s a funny parody of a hit movie at the time, Scary Movie. This made it culturally relevant. It also helped that it aired during Super Bowl XXXIV.

The slightly silly humor seems to have translated, with a modern twist on the original ad hitting our screens in 2020 when Budweiser partnered with Uber.

Whatever the reason for its popularity, it reportedly helped to boost sales by 2.4 million barrels.

5. Heineken – “Beer Run” (2005)

There’s nothing like a celebrity endorsement to take a beer commercial to the next level. Especially if that celebrity is Brad Pitt and the year is 2005.

Directed by David Fincher, this Heineken commercial is shot like an Oscar-worthy movie. The ad starts with Brad Pitt alone in his luxury apartment.

He goes to the fridge to grab an ice-cold Heineken, but he’s all out. We see paparazzi snapping pics of his window.

Pitt nips out to do a beer run and the paparazzi immediately descend on him, chasing him as he makes his way to the local convenience store. He enters the store, grabs his beer, and manages to slip out the back door, avoiding the paparazzi. 

It finishes with Brad strolling calmly back to his apartment, Heineken in hand, as the Rolling Stones “Gimme Shelter” plays.

This ad is as cool today as it was in 2005.

6. Dos Equis – “The Most Interesting Man In The World” (2006)

I remember the first time I saw Jonathon Goldsmith (AKA the most interesting man in the world) smile at the camera and say, “I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, it’s Dos Equis.”

My first thought was, “Wow, this is great.” Quickly followed by “Where’s the most interesting woman in the world?”

But all that aside, this big ad from Dos Equis is a stroke of storytelling genius.

The campaign takes viewers on a series of adventures with the most interesting man in the world, encouraging them to “Stay thirsty.” We see him perform daring feats and land himself in outrageous situations, always accompanied by hilarious voiceover commentary.

The ads quickly became a meme machine and put the brand on the map.

7. Pure Blonde – “From a place much more pure than yours” (2007)

Welcome to brewtopia. A pure world full of lush forests and beautiful people, uncorrupted by modern life.

That’s what Pure Blonde did in this 2007 ad.

We’re transported to an idyllic forest scene, calm and serene. Until a Pure Blonde truck pulls up, and a burly delivery guy unloads the beers as “Cherry Pie” blasts on the radio.

He creates havoc as he unloads the beer, before driving off as the words “From a place more pure than yours” appear on screen.

This is one of the funniest beer ads of its time. So much so that the original ad idea has made a comeback in 2024.

8. Miller – “1 Second Ad” (2009)

In 2009, Miller showed us just how much you can say in a one-second ad. The ad aired during the Super Bowl and consisted of Windell Middlebrooks shouting “High Life.” 

The audience was left flummoxed. Was that it?

The answer was yes. That’s all it took.

Thanks to this one second of genius, it’s no doubt one of the most talked about Super Bowl ads of all time. Oh, and it reportedly increased sales by 8.6%.

9. Budweiser – “Lost Dog” (2015)

You had me at labrador puppy. Get your Kleenex ready because this one’s a tear-jerker.

As a sequel to its 2014 “Puppy Love” Super Bowl commercial, Budweiser won the Ad Meter again in 2015 with this one.

The ad tells the story of a lost puppy making his way home. 

As he nears the end of his journey, a wolf appears behind him, ready to pounce. His Clydesdale pals see he’s in danger and come galloping along to save the day. It ends with the dog running home in slow motion.

It’s cinematically stunning, with a beautiful rendition of the Proclaimers’ classic song “I’m Gonna Be (500 miles)” playing in the background.

Gets me every time.

10. Heineken – “Open Your World” (2017)

Cultural commentary in advertising can go one of two ways.

Shortly after that Pepsi ad with Kendall Jenner, Heineken showed us how to get it right. This 2017 ad prompted Fast Company to call it the “antidote” to the infamous Pepsi commercial.

In a refreshing break from the typical beer commercial, Heineken decided to facilitate some difficult and culturally important decisions. All in homage to its “open your mind, open your world” tagline.

The ad sees people with vastly different beliefs engage in honest conversations and find common ground. Heineken stays neutral throughout the social experiment, creating a space for discussion. 

At the end of the experiment, it gives participants the choice to leave or stay and discuss their differences over a beer. Powerful stuff.

Honorable mentions

Guinness – “Welcome Back” (2021)

In a sea of “the pubs are open” ads after lockdown, Guinness told us the perfect story. 

It celebrates all the things we missed (like sharing a Guinness) while recognizing the struggle of the pandemic. 

Each shot sees everyday city scenes start to look like pints of Guinness as “Always On My Mind” plays in the background. Timely, relatable, and culturally sensitive, I tip my cap.

Carlsberg – “If Carlsberg did …” 

We first saw the iconic tagline “If Carlsberg did” back in the seventies. Since then, it has inspired a number of excellent beer ads and parodies. 

Like this “If Carlsberg Did Haircuts” ad from 2015.

Lessons from the best beer ads

Beer commercials are in a league of their own when it comes to capturing their audience. But what’s the trick? 

Here are some lessons you can steal for your own marketing strategy.

  • Make us feel (or even shed a tear) with a great story
  • Be culturally relevant – your ads should speak to pop culture or become their own touchpoint
  • Throw in some nostalgia and bring us back to the good old days
  • Use animals  (puppies, horses, frogs … people love ‘em)
  • Make us laugh