With how many amazing Super Bowl commercials come out every year, it’s hard to pick a favorite. Each year, brands seem to outdo themselves with bigger celebrities, funnier advertisements and catchier slogans. Still, if we were to rank the best Super Bowl commercials ever, these would make the cut.
From Beyoncé, P!nk and Britney Spears fighting gladiator-style for a Pepsi to the time Monster.com made us cry, the Super Bowl has produced dozens of memorable commercials over the years. And though each one is as creative as the next, there’s a select number of Super Bowl commercials that can only be described as “unforgettable.” Some of these commercials are from the ’80s (or even ’70s), while others are as recent as last year (who remembers when Cardi B replaced Amazon Alexa?). No matter when they premiered, these commercials will go down in Super Bowl history.
Ahead of this year’s game, we looked back on the best Super Bowl commercials we’re still thinking about. Some of them make us laugh. Others make us think. Whatever these commercials do, we’re so happy they exist on the internet for us to relive over and over. Check out the best Super Bowl commercials ahead.
Coca-Cola: “Mean Joe Greene” (1979)
Pittsburgh Steelers player Charles Edward Greene, nicknamed “Mean Joe Greene,” starred in this 1979 Super Bowl commercial, which took a nickname Greene wasn’t fond of and turned into a heartwarming advertisement. The commercial features Greene limping after a game when a little boy approaches him and offers him a “Coke.” In return, Greene gives the boy his jersey.
Apple: “Introduce Macintosh” (1984)
Before the iPhone, there was the Macintosh. In 1984, Apple released this commercial to promote its new computer. The commercial features a future-like world, where a woman with a sledgehammer comes and destroys an IBM screen. The commercial was meant to mark the beginning of the Apple era.
Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and McDonald’s: “The Showdown” (1993)
Michael Jordan and NBC exec Larry Bird go head-to-head in this McDonald’s commercial for the 1993 Super Bowl. The commercial. The commercial features Jordan and Bird shooting hoops for a single Big Mac and fries.
Pepsi: “Nothing Like a Pepsi” (1996)
Pepsi and Coke’s rivalry dates way back. In this 1996 Super Bowl commercial, a Coca-Cola worker is seen on a security camera refilling Cokes at a grocery store. After he’s done, he decides to take a drink from the Pepsi side of the cooler, which causes the entire display to fall down. Looks like even Coke workers want a Pepsi.
Tabasco: “Mosquito” (1998)
There’s something so cheesy but so classic about Tobasco’s 1998 Super Bowl commercial. The commercial features a man dousing his pizza with Tabasco sauce—so much so that he’s sweating. When a mosquito comes and bites him, the bug immediately tastes the spice in his blood and flies away only to combust moments later.
Doritos: “3D Doritos” (1998)
To promote Doritos’s new 3D Doritos, the brand released this 1998 Super Bowl commercial, which features two guys at a laundromat trying to impress a woman by tossing 3D Doritos into their mouths. Little did they know that the woman was the most skilled food-thrower after she puts a bag of 3D Doritos into a washing machine and eats them as the washer spits them out machine-gun-style.
Monster.com: “When I Grow Up” (1999)
Monster.com may not be as memorable today, but their 1999 Super Bowl commercial sure is. In 1999, the career site released this Super Bowl commercial, which features kids talking about the current economy and job market and how they can’t wait to be a part of it. The commercial is sarcastic, but highlighted a huge issue when it came to job security at the time.
Terry Tate and Reebok (2003)
Reebok’s 2003 Super Bowl commercial marked the birth of Terry Tate, a fictional, over-aggressive football player created by the brand. The theme of the commercial is simple: Terry was hired by a company to keep its workers in check—by screaming in their faces.
Beyoncé, P!nk, Britney Spears and Pepsi (2004)
2004 saw three pop queens, Beyoncé, P!nk and Britney Spears, fight gladiator-style for a Pepsi. It’s one of the brand’s most iconic commercials, with the three singers belting Queen’s “We Will Rock You” to the audience, including Enrique Iglesias as a Caesar-like ruler.
Betty White and Snickers (2010)
Betty White was an MVP in Snickers’s 2010 Super Bowl commercial. The commercial featured a group of guys playing football when one, played by Betty White, starts to struggle. After one of the players tells the guy that he’s “playing like Betty white,” his girlfriend feeds him a Snickers. And just like that, he transforms from Betty White to a normal guy.
Justin Bieber, Ozzy Osbourne and Best Buy (2011)
2011’s Super Bowl saw a collaboration between Justin Bieber, Ozzy Osbourne and Best Buy. The fourth-wall-breaking commercial starts with Osbourne filming a Super Bowl commercial about a 4G phone when the director corrects him and tells him that the new version is a 5G. In the end, Bieber comes in and takes over, proving to the audience that “technology moves fast.”
Kim Kardashian and T Mobile (2015)
Kim Kardashian mocked herself with pitch-perfect humor in this T Mobile commercial for the 2015 Super Bowl. The commercial, which promotes the brand’s rollover data plan, features Kardashian talking about how much viewers can follow her life on the internet if their data rolled over and wasn’t wasted.
Cardi B, Gordon Ramsay, Anthony Hopkins, Rebel Wilson and Amazon Alexa (2018)
Amazon Alexa’s commercial for the 2018 Super Bowl featured a star-studded cast. The premise of the commercial is simple: Alexa lost her voice, and until it comes back, a few celebrities—like Cardi B, Gordon Ramsay, Anthony Hopkins and Rebel Wilson—have to do her job in her place.
Cardi B, Steve Carrell, Lil Jon and Pepsi (2019)
Bardi Gang members know that “Okurrr!” is Cardi B’s catchphrase, so for Pepsi’s 2019 Super Bowl commercial, the brand used the word to their advantage. The commercial starts with a waitress asking Steve Carrell if Pepsi is OK because they don’t have OK. Later in the commercial, Lil Jon comes in with his signature, “OK!” before Cardi busts through the doors of the diner telling everyone that Pepsi is “Okurrr!”
Matthew McConaughey and Doritos (2021)
McConaughey’s 2021 commercial for Doritos 3D is one of the weirdest Super Bowl commercials we’ve ever seen. The clip sees him as a 2D man living life, ordering coffee, driving, getting blown away by the wind and getting sucked into a vacuum. In the end, McConaughey takes a bite of a 3D Dorito, and poof! He’s three dimensional again.
This article was originally published in 2019.
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