The Super Bowl is one of the biggest events in the sporting calendar. But it’s so much more than just a football game. It’s an unofficial holiday with a festival-like atmosphere and a legendary half-time show, and it’s watched by millions around the world – even those who “don’t do sport”. And with so many people tuning in, it’s the most sought-after time for TV ads.
Commercial time during the game is the most expensive of the year. In fact, this year advertisers paid an average of $7 million to air a 30-second long commercial during the Super Bowl LVII broadcast! And since the early 1980s, the ads have become as anticipated as the game itself.
Celebrity casts. Hollywood directors. Hilarious storylines and others that make us reach for the tissues. It’s now a competition between brands to outdo one another and take the unofficial title of the Best Super Bowl Commercial of the Night.
With that in mind, I’ve delved deep into the archives and spent more time than I care to admit rewatching iconic Super Bowl ads from the past five decades. I laughed. I cried. I questioned my life choices. And I rounded up this list of the 25 best Super Bowl commercials of all time for you to enjoy.
So get comfy, grab a box of tissues, and enjoy!
1. Apple – 1984 (1984)
Directed by Hollywood royalty Ridley Scott and inspired by George Orwell’s dystopian novel, this eerie yet effective commercial introduced Apple’s new Macintosh computer for the very first time. This Super Bowl commercial only aired nationally once – during the third quarter of the 1984 game – but it marked the beginning of a new era and has gone down in history as one of the best Super Bowl ads ever made.
Apple’s advertising team is obviously doing something right, as the brand features in our roundup of the best video ads too.
2. Snickers – Betty White (2010)
Featuring comedy legend Betty White as a hangry football player, the 2010 Super Bowl ad from Snickers coined the iconic phrase “you’re not you when you’re hungry”. That phrase, which we all know and love (and relate to), has stood the test of time and remains synonymous with the chocolate brand more than a decade later!
Snickers also features in our roundup of the best Valentine’s Day ads.
3. Amazon – Alexa Loses Her Voice (2018)
Another of the best Super Bowl commercials of all time is this celeb-packed ad from Amazon. When Alexa loses her voice, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is reassured that replacements are ready to step in. But the likes of Gordon Ramsay, Rebel Wilson, Cardi-B, and Anthony Hopkins all try and hilariously fail to answer the simple questions asked by users.
4. Always – #LikeaGirl (2015)
This inspirational ad from Always (which was part of a larger-scale campaign) was praised far and wide for changing the conversation about what it means to run, fight, and throw “like a girl”. The Super Bowl ad was created in response to consumer research that showed that girls experience a significant drop in self-confidence when they hit puberty.
5. Wendy’s – Where’s The Beef (1984)
Wendy’s is renowned for its savage tweets, but the brand has been roasting its rivals since long before the days of social media. The fast-food giant’s popular 1984 Super Bowl ad was the birthplace of the phrase “Where’s the beef?”, which instantly became a national catchphrase and is still used today to refer to something without any substance.
6. Pepsi – Cindy Crawford (1992)
In 1992, Pepsi harnessed the power of supermodel Cindy Crawford, a red Lamborghini, and a pair of daisy dukes to draw attention to their new can design. The ad proved so popular and so iconic that the soda brand recreated it nearly 30 years later for their 2018 Super Bowl commercial – and even included Cindy’s son!
7. Coca Cola – Hey Kid, Catch (1980)
Coca Cola’s 1980 Super Bowl ad – “Hey Kid, Catch” – is an all-time classic. Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive tackle “Mean” Joe Greene, who earned his nickname because of his intimidating style of play, shows his soft side when a starstruck young fan timidly offers him his bottle of Coca Cola after a tough time on the pitch. The heartwarming ad has spawned a whole host of parodies, everywhere from The Simpsons to political campaigns!
8. Tide – It’s A Tide Ad (2018)
Tide’s clever 2018 Super Bowl ad stars Stranger Things actor David Harbour, who hilariously points out that every ad is technically a Tide ad. Perfume ads, jewelry ads, alcohol ads – if they feature stain-free clothes, they must be advertising the brand’s detergent, right?! This one gets my vote as the funniest Super Bowl ad of all time.
9. Nike – Hare Jordan (1993)
Introducing the ad that inspired Space Jam! In 1993, Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan teamed up for the first time in this part-live-action, part-animated commercial. The beloved Looney Tunes character joins forces with the Chicago Bulls star to defeat a group of antagonistic players – while sporting the new Nike Air Jordans, of course!
10. Budweiser – Puppy Love (2014)
Tugging at the heartstrings of animal lovers everywhere, Budweiser’s 2014 Super Bowl ad tells the heartwarming story of an unlikely friendship between a puppy and a horse. Accompanied by Passenger’s dulcet tones, the memorable ad takes you on an emotive journey – with the happiest of endings.
11. Google – Parisian Love (2009)
Google takes us on another emotional journey with its 2009 ad, which cleverly tells a modern love story while simultaneously showcasing the platform’s search capabilities. I’m not crying, you’re crying!
12. Volkswagen – The Force (2011)
Volkswagen’s 2011 Super Bowl commercial features a child strutting around the house dressed as Star Wars’ Darth Vader, attempting to use the Dark Side on everything from the family dog to the laundry machine. The child-like imagination is adorable to watch, and the parents’ encouragement is utterly heartwarming. This might be one of the best car ads of all time!
13. Coinbase – QR Code (2022)
It may not have a compelling storyline, adorable animals, or a celeb cast, but Coinbase’s 2022 Super Bowl ad was so popular that it crashed their app! And you can’t argue with that. The full 60-second ad consisted of nothing more than a colorful bouncing QR code, which, when scanned, took viewers to Coinbase’s promotional website, offering a limited-time promotion. Cryptocurrency companies were a major presence at last year’s Super Bowl, but they were noticeably missing in the advertising lineup for this year’s event.
14. FedEx – The Lollipop Guild (2000)
Getting top points for creativity, this superbowl commercial from FedEx recreates the iconic scene of the munchkins welcoming Dororthy to Munchkinland. When they run into an obstacle, FedEx saves the day! The ad was ultimately pulled due to safety concerns from the National Inhalant Prevention Council, but it still makes the list for being weird and wonderful!
15. T-Mobile – Scrubs Duet (2022)
Fans of Scrubs got a huge treat in 2022 when their favorite duo, J.D. and Turk, reunited to perform a duet set to the tune of West Side Story’s “I Feel Pretty”. In the ad, Zach Braff (J.D.) is tired of paying so much for home internet, so Donald Faison (Turk) helps him switch to T-Mobile. It’s a simple story but a long-awaited reunion, which earned the ad an incredible 41 million views in the space of a year. And if you missed it, this year’s Super Bowl introduced another new neighbor…John Travolta! The trio recreated the classic number from Grease: “Summer Nights”.
16. McDonalds – The Showdown (1993)
Mcdonald’s has always been known for its outstanding advertising, and one such example is the Showdown ad for Super Bowl XXVII. The ad features basketball icons Michael Jordan and Larry Bird in a showdown for Jordan’s Big Mac and fries.
In what seems to be the endless battle of “who’s going to miss the hoop first”, Jordan jokingly invites the audience to order a Big Mac as the fight “might take a while”.
Want to see more like this? Check out our roundup of the best McDonald’s marketing campaigns.
17. Budweiser – Bud Bowl (1989)
As a part of Super Bowl 1989, Budweiser presented its new brand, Bud Light, to the world. This Light version of the beer made its grand entrance as a part of a funny commercial featuring it with its well-known and established brother, Budweiser.
The ad recreated the Super Bowl scenario where Budweiser and Bud Light took the stage and fought for the podium.
18. Snickers – Marv Levy (1996)
As a part of Super Bowl XXX, Snickers released their famous Marv Levy commercial and made sure the audience had a good laugh. In what looks like a locker room, the famous football coach motivates his players to stay there until they find a perfect solution for winning all the games in the next season.
To make sure the Buffalo Bills players keep their focus and enthusiasm through the long session the Snickers ad offers a simple solution – having a Snickers bar to help them keep going!
19. Reebok – Terry Tate (2003)
In 2003, Rebook created one of the most iconic ads from Super Bowl XXXVII. The ad features Terry Tate, a famous football player turned actor, as a new Reebok employee hired to improve the organization’s productivity and culture.
And the player brings his unique style in tackling productivity issues – by literally tackling other employees. As the player tackles his colleagues, the boss-like figure talks about how Mr. Tate has been an extraordinary addition to the team.
20. Fabletics Men — Outfits For Every Occasion (2023)
Fabletics didn’t need much to create their hilarious Super Bowl LVII ad. All it took was some fantastic deals on their men’s clothes and Kevin Hart doing what he does best – being himself.
In what looks like a low-budget ad where the brand emphasizes amazing deals on a black screen, Kevin Hart brings a piece of his stand-up to the crowd and ultimately elevates the ad. Because who would mind watching stand-up comedy as part of an ad?
21. E Trade – Baby (2010)
In 2010, as a part of Super Bowl XLIV, E Trade created its first iconic commercial featuring babies as grown-ups. Since then, the company has never stopped using this motif across various ads.
E Trade is one of the first online trading platforms for retail investors and is a part of Morgan Stanley. And their modern and less formal approach to advertising perfectly portrays the image of a pioneer in online trading and investment.
22. Old Spice – The Man Your Man Could Smell Like (2010)
There’s hardly anyone unfamiliar with the iconic Old Spice ad called “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like.” But only some know that the original ad was pioneered in the 2010 Super Bowl and has become one of the most iconic pieces of modern advertising since then.
The brand kept the format in the following years and produced several other ads with the same protagonist and a similar topic – keeping your man manly and smelling fresh.
23. Sorta Pharmacy – Esurance (2015)
Since the epic Breaking Bad series started airing, Walter White has become the world’s most famous chemist. And who’s better for the leading role in an ad from a pharmaceutical company than him?
That’s why Sorta Pharmacy amazed the Super Bowl audience in 2015 when they brought back Mr. White to the screens and behind the counter in a local pharmacy.
24. Charmin – Snap (2004)
Another company that used the Super Bowl as a theme to promote their product, and did a great job doing it, is Charmin. The company featured its bear mascot pranking players in the deciding moments of a football game.
The ad emphasizes that this toilet paper is so soft and comfortable that it can completely distract football players even when their focus is at its peak.
25. Family Guy – Super Bowl Promos (1999)
Though these aren’t considered regular Super Bowl ads, Family Guy did a fantastic job using the event for their hilarious promotion. The cartoon is known for its satiric worldview and covering timely topics, making the Super Bowl break the best platform for its messaging.
Whether they’re making fun of the president or just referring to the popularity of this enormous sports event, the Family Guy producers did a fantastic job in all of their Super Bowl promos.
How to get faster feedback on your Super Bowl ads
Creating an ad for a major event like Super Bowl requires approval from a lot of different stakeholders. To avoid wasting time collecting (often contradictory) feedback from different platforms, you’ll need an adequate feedback tool.
A video review and collaboration tool like Filestage can help you avoid this scenario by inviting all your reviewers in one platform to leave their feedback. Your whole team can then share, discuss, and approve all their files, all in one place and without stress.
There’s no doubt that Super Bowl Sunday is not just one of the biggest sports events but also one of the most significant advertising events of the year. Some of the best SuperBowl commercials of all time are the best and most creative examples of advertising in the past decades.
There’s a rich super bowl history behind us and an exciting future ahead!