The 10 Greatest Super Bowl Commercials of All-Time

Which Super Bowl ads have withstood the test of time? Find out here!

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

 

On February 1, football’s greatest spectacle comes back to Arizona for Super Bowl XLIX. For 49 years, the Big Game has pit the conference winners against one another for the world championship of football. Sometimes, the Super Bowl even lives up to the hype.

Regardless of whether the Super Bowl is actually a good game, it’s going to be the most watched television program of the year. The vast majority of Americans love football like no other sport. But even among non-sports fans, the Super Bowl has become an attraction because of the ads.

For almost as long as the Super Bowl has been a cultural phenomena, advertisers have taken advantage of the captive audience and paid big money to get an ad slotted to appear during the game. The Super Bowl ads usually tend to be very funny or memorable, although not every advertisement can match that reputation.

The very best Super Bowl ads get people talking about them before, during and after the game. They need to make a good impression and successfully sell their brand or product to the people watching at home. Some of the more recent Super Bowl ads seem to have lost sight of this goal. The Betty White Snickers commercial was a great star vehicle for White more than anything else. Even the widely popular ad, The Force: Volkswagen made the viewers nostalgic for Star Wars, and not the car itself.

A truly great Super Bowl ad has to accomplish all of its branding goals and leave an indelible impression on the people who watched it. Humor isn’t always required, but it certainly helps.

Ahead of Super Bowl XLIX, CraveOnline has assembled a list of the 10 Greatest Super Bowl Commercials of All-Time. But feel free to share your picks in the comment section below!


10. Wendy’s – “Where’s The Beef?”

With “Where’s The Beef?,” we have an example of a catchphrase outliving the ad campaign that spawned it. During the 1984 Super Bowl, Wendy’s cast Clara Peller and two other women as dissatisfied burger customers who demanded to know “Where’s the Beef?”

Hilariously, Peller went on to record sequel commercials, and even a remix song based on her catchphrase. But Wendy’s probably wasn’t very happy when Peller appeared in a Prego pasta sauce ad and declared that she had found the beef.

But by then, the “Where’s the Beef?” catchphrase had taken hold with the general public. Even today, Wendy’s occasionally references it.


9. Xerox – Monks

Although this ad comes from 1977, it was one of the first to feature the style of humor that’s become associated with the Super Bowl. Credit for that goes to advertising executive Allen Kay, who came up with the idea for the Xerox ad featuring Brother Dominic, a monk who finishes a meticulous handwritten manuscript… and he is then ordered to do it again 500 times.

When the monk simply uses a Xerox machine to do the job for him, his superior praises his work as a “miracle.” The legacy of this ad goes further than Xerox, as nearly four decades of Super Bowl commercials have emulated this tone.


8. Master Lock – Marksman

Compared to the other commercials on this list, Master Lock’s “Marksman” ad is kind of dry and joyless. There’s really no humor in it at all.

But it’s extremely effective at selling its product. A Master Lock takes a bullet from a Marksman’s gun and it doesn’t open. The unbroken lock with a large bullet hole through it quickly became iconic… and one of the signature images of Master Lock.


7. Tabasco – Mosquito

What I admire most about this ad is its simplicity. In 1998, Tabasco ran a commercial with a man happily pouring its product on his pizza before he gets bitten by a mosquito. And let’s just say that the mosquito didn’t live long enough to regret it…


6. Pepsi – New Can

Pepsi and its soft drink competitors run Super Bowl ads every year. For Pepsi, it peaked in 1992 with this iconic ad featuring its new can design… and also supermodel Cindy Crawford.

The camera lingers on Crawford’s body as she hops out of a red Lamborghini to enjoy a nice cool Pepsi. The punchline is also amusing, as she’s not the object that the young boys are ogling. This is perhaps one of the best ways to use sex appeal to sell a product without going too far.

Go Daddy, take notes!