As we prepare for another big game day and all the commercials that come with it, we’re looking back on some of the most iconic Super Bowl campaigns to hit TV screens across the country over the years.
How did we come up with this list? They had to hit these three pillars to be considered:
- Did they stop you in your tracks?
- Did you look up from your phone, pizza, or dog?
- Did they have an original or innovative strategy?
- Did it remind you of an existing commercial or can it stand alone?
- Did they tug at your heart strings or make you feel like you need the product?
- Did you say aww or Google the brand/product?
Apple, “1984” (1984)
Apple was iconic with this 80’s ad and led you through without knowing where they were going with it, unless you’ve read the book 1984. But your attention was grabbed and you were left looking up Macintosh.
Budweiser, “Bud-Wei-Ser Ribbit” (1995)
In one of those late-night brainstorming sessions with everyone chowing down on pizza and shooting crumpled-up paper ideas at the trash can, someone on the Budweiser team threw a Hail Mary with “guys…frogs ribbiting Budweiser,” and it became one of the best Super Bowl commercials of its time. It was geniusly simple. Definitely an original moment in marketing.
Budweiser, “Puppy Love” (2014)
This list wouldn’t be complete without a puppy commercial, but this puppy adoption one where the horse won’t let him leave and then brings him back because they’re best buds? Oh, come on, admit you got a little misty-eyed at the end. This is an obvious touchdown for Budweiser, but in 2016 TiVo released a study stating this ad was the number one Super Bowl commercial in 50 years! So, if for some wild reason you didn’t believe me, believe the numbers. Numbers don’t lie.
Chrysler, “It’s Half Time” (2012)
If a car commercial can make you feel the stress of the current economy (of 2012), comradery, and patriotic motivation all within two minutes I think it can be on this list. Clint Eastwood makes you feel a rollercoaster of emotions and leaves you hopeful while remembering Chrysler. Epic.
Doritos, “Keep Your Hands Off” (2010)
This bold little kid actually slaps the man his mom brings home and tells him not to touch his mom OR his Doritos. Bet you turned your head to the TV when you heard that smack. This protective boy tugged at your emotions, made you stop in your tracks, and made you crave those apparently slap-an-adult-worthy chips. The number of people who went to the store to buy Doritos the next few days was astronomical.
Google, “Parisian Love” (2009)
There is no way in any universe, meta-verse, or other-verse that Google would ever need to make an ad, but they hit every pillar and then some with this Super Bowl commercial. Google takes you through an entire love story just with different Google searches and makes you say “aww” out loud with the ending.
Old Spice, “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” (2010)
“I’m on a horse.” Quick, witty, and able to appeal to multiple target audiences, this Old Spice commercial uses former wide receiver, Isaiah Mustafa, to jokingly show you how a man should smell. Whatever you think about the product, this commercial does an excellent job of holding your attention with a fast pace and short set of moving scenes with perfectly timed jokes. This ad was ahead of its time in terms of style.
Pepsi, “We will rock you” (2004)
Okay, Pepsi really called up Pink, Beyonce, and Britney Spears to sing ‘We Will Rock You’ in a gladiator stadium and cause such a scene that Enrique Iglesias falls off his emperor perch…iconic to say the least. If this commercial didn’t have you pause your Super Bowl antics to watch, I’m a little concerned for you.
Snickers, “You’re not you when you’re hungry” (2010)
Oh Betty White. An American entertainment pioneer. An icon. A hilarious and irreverent lady. Snickers knew exactly what they were doing when strategizing for the big game that year. This commercial series went down in the hall of fame and for good reason. Betty White getting sacked will live forever. I still tell my brother 14 years later to go eat a Snickers when he’s being a pain.
Tide, “It’s a Tide Ad” (2018)
With the ever-evolving trends, Tide does a good job capitalizing on the current culture to outright make fun of past commercials and make it a “real-world” ad. To then basically claim that every commercial is a Tide commercial because of the clean clothes is audacious and funny. With all of the spill stains from Super Bowl grub, I’m sure Tide was at the forefront of everyone’s mind that year.
NFL, “The 100-Year Game” (2019)
As a bonus to this list, the 100-Year Game scene was a top-tier moment for Super Bowl ads. The NFL advertises their own game in this spectacular lineup of players playing the game they love when Marshawn Lynch goes for a handful of cake and fumbles the topper, which is of course a golden football.
Tubi, “WHERE IS THE REMOTE” (2023)
Last year’s Tubi TV commercial was hands down one of the most hilarious commercials in Super Bowl history. Tubi played a prank on every game watcher that won’t be forgotten for years to come. It was creative, it sparked arguments, and social media memes were made. The three hallmarks of any good advertisement.
To learn the ins and outs of capitalizing on trendy marketing like Super Bowl ads do, visit the TEAM LEWIS blog page for a library of insights.