The 24 Best Super Bowl Commercials Ever Created

The Super Bowl is one of the most watched sports broadcasts on Earth, or at the very least in the U.S. — although American football is working hard to win over other parts of the world. But when it comes to the Super Bowl, those on home turf aren't just watching for the small bursts of on-the-field excitement, but for the incredibly creative — and often hilarious or even tear-jerking — Super Bowl ads peppered throughout. 

Super Bowl ads tend to be the best because the companies making them spend so much money that only the greatest ideas, production, and casting will do. There's an art to spending millions of dollars for something that has to capture a distracted audience's attention in just 30 seconds, and have them talking about it for days, if not years, afterward.

There've been hundreds of excellent Super Bowl ads since the first game in 1967. Here are some of the all-time greatest.

Budweiser: Bud Bowl I (1989)

For viewers tuning in to watch the 49ers take on the Bengals back in Super Bowl XXIII, there was a nice surprise awaiting them (even more surprising than the Bengals making the Super Bowl): the Bud Bowl! What remains a cultural icon, with branding still showing up all over the internet and in print media, the Bud Bowl began as a fun way to watch some stop-motion beer go head-to-head in the ultimate battle to determine which was superior: Bud Light or Budweiser.

The Bud Bowl was spread across several ads during the game, and the last one opens with the final play of the game with the score tied at 24-24. Budweiser's kicker, Budski, kicks a field goal as time expires to win the game. 

According to Ad Age, two alternate endings were filmed, one of which interrupted the kick attempt with a giant hand grabbing a couple of player-beers out of the fridge, leaving the game hanging. The other ended with a cutaway to "Heidi," a reference to the infamous Heidi Game in which East Coast football viewers missed an exciting last-minute comeback by the Oakland Raiders because network execs went to regularly scheduled programming.

Snickers: Betty White (2010)

For anyone who wonders why Betty White was such a big deal, this ad is why. We see her trudging around the football field doing very little — which isn't surprising for a woman who was 88 years old at the time. After being chastised by her teammates (who call her Mike), a young woman on the sidelines hands her a Snickers bar. Like all of us, Ms. White just wasn't herself when she was hungry — after taking a bite (apparently she was only a little hungry), White is replaced by a young 30-something athlete. See, Mike wasn't an old lady, he was just playing like an old lady, and all he needed to get his groove back was a bite of peanutty goodness.

The ad was so popular, it spawned numerous spoofs using the "You're not you when you're hungry" slogan, and helped to relaunch White's career. Her penchant for making dirty jokes while cussing like a sailor helped quite a bit, too.

The Showdown McDonalds (1993)

There was a time when basketball was dominated by two greats: Larry Bird and Michael Jordan. In 1993, these two had all the chops to land McDonald's biggest commercial hit during Super Bowl XXVII. The spot opens with Jordan bringing a Big Mac and fries onto the court, only to find Bird there who challenges him to a game of H-O-R-S-E Extreme NBA Super-Star Edition! Well, he might have just said, "Play you for it," but you get the idea.

"First one to miss watches the winner eat" sets the two off on the most insane game of H-O-R-S-E ever played. Shot after shot with nothing but net has the two sports idols shooting insane calls that just keep going in until finally, they stand on the top of a skyscraper calling the shot. We don't get to see who wins and gets to eat the delicious Big Mac (except that it wasn't Charles Barkley), but that's how the commercial works. It left the audience wanting to finish it themselves, making this one of McDonald's most successful Super Bowl advertising spots ever ... even though it sold a sport besides football.

When I grow up... (1999) was in its infancy when it purchased three 30-second spots during Super Bowl XXXIII. At a cost of $4 million, the spots took up between 15 to 18%of their annual marketing budget, but they paid off in a big way. After the game ended, job searches on their site surged from 600 per minute to 2,900, and the ad won Ad Age's "Best of Show": "It was clever. It was funny. It was poignant. It was inspirational. It was motivating. It was surprising. It was daring."

In the ad, children discuss their dreams about being the office stooge, begging for a raise, being underappreciated, brown-nosing, and pretty much any other office space activity nobody actually aspires to. The ad made people think about the positions they may have held at the time and what they actually wanted to do. For a Super Bowl ad made by a young company, it was daring, innovative, and perfect for the brand.

Doritos: Ultrasound (2016)

"Really? You're eating Doritos? He's eating Doritos at my ultrasound." That's probably not something any soon-to-be mother should be saying about her husband, but that's how this spot opened when it was aired at Super Bowl 50. Even the fetus notices when Dad starts waving the chip about, but the annoyed mom takes the chip and chucks it across the room. Well, the baby's having none of that and decides it's time to leave the womb and head to a more Doritos-rich environment. The shocked doctor and couple all scream as the baby literally kicks itself out of Mom and into life.

The best thing about this ad? It's the culmination of a contest called "Crash the Super Bowl," where contestants submit ideas to Doritos to hopefully air during the Super Bowl. One of 2016's finalists was Peter Carstairs, who joined a pool of 4,500 submissions out of 28 countries. Carstairs got $100,000. The winner got $1 million and earned a chance to work with Zack Snyder on a Warner Bros./DC project, which maybe was more of a punishment in retrospect.

Budweiser: Rex's Worst Day (2000)

How do you make a dog cry? That's the question posed by this Budweiser ad from Super Bowl XXXIV. The spot opens on a Western film scene with a dog sitting atop the corpse of a man, but the dog looks way too happy. A director calls "cut," and it's time to motivate the dog. The solution is to have Rex think about his absolute worst day — luckily, the dog understands English, because that's exactly what we're treated to.

We then see Rex on a beautiful day — he notices a Budweiser truck passing by, and decides to follow it. He leaps into the air to cross over the fence and face-plants into the van that's parked there. The dog howls remembering this and pleases everyone on set. The ad is all about the desire to get a Bud (and how much dogs love their beer, evidently). It's funny and ridiculous at the same time, but also perfect for a brand that is best known for its silly commercials starring animated beer bottles, frogs, and just about anything else you can think of.

Pigeons Nissan (1997)

You know how people kind of always think of the birds flying overhead as looking down at targets on our cars, hats, and, well, heads? Just cruising along up there waiting to void their bowels on us and our lovely possessions at the grossest and most inopportune moments? Well, that's the basis for this ad, which aired during Super Bowl XXXI. Of course, these pigeons are commanded, just like any air wing in the military, and target just about everything you wouldn't want bird poop on — that is, until they come upon a flashy, brand-new Nissan sedan driving through a neighborhood.

Sure, they try to target it, but fail miserably, all the way until the car makes it to their garage and the lead bird smashes face-first into its closed door. So there you have it — drive Nissan and drive poop-free (invisible poop-shielding technology sold separately).

Hare Jordan Nike (1992)

The year before Michael Jordan went toe-to-toe with Larry Bird in their epic game of horse, the NBA legend took on a player of an entirely different caliber: Bugs Bunny. Bugs comes to the game when he finds some bully basketball players causing such a ruckus on the roof of his rabbit burrow, he just has to hit the surface and see what all the hubbub was about. When the bubs don't treat the good rabbit like a gentleman, he calls on Jordan to go up against the sub-athlete brutes. Within a few shots, they're all but defeated, owing much to Bugs' usual antics of cross-dressing and dropping anvils on people. Jordan contributed too, probably.

This spot aired four years before Jordan and Bugs filmed "Space Jam," and the commercial was a huge success. The duo got together for several sequels and even influenced the creation of the 2015 Air Jordan shoes by Nike. The shoes were dubbed Air Jordan 7 Retro "Hare," in honor of the rabbit's contribution, and they even dropped a new spot in 2015, featuring the wascally wabbit playing basketball in a style fans of the original Air Jordan might recognize. Bugs is way better at dunking with his ears though.

Invisible Mindy Nationwide (2015)

We've all felt ignored, and this Super Bowl commercial plays on that feeling with some A-list start power. 

Comedienne Mindy Kaling concludes, after years of being treated like she wasn't there, that she must be invisible. This pushes her to run all about town doing pretty much whatever she wants, like walking through a car wash or sitting out in a park in the nude. She even tries walking up to Matt Damon and attempting to kiss him — this is when she learns she isn't invisible, and that Damon has a bit of a problem with this strange woman coming up for an uninvited snog.

The spot, narrated by Julia Roberts, recommends that you join a company that sees you as a priority. Nationwide, being an insurance company and thus not having the greatest of interpersonal reputations, wanted to get the word out that they valued their clients and took care of their needs. Heartwarming!

Space Babies Kia (2013)

The question all parents dread ("Where do babies come from?") was the title and focus of this ingenious ad put forth by Kia during Super Bowl XLVII. As soon as the father in the ad is hit with the question, he spins a yarn about Babylandia — a special planet filled with all kinds of kidlets. The ad's visually stunning, with numerous animals and human babies going through the motions of flying to Earth to be released to all the awaiting parents of the world.

Of course, once dad finishes the story, the little boy argues his friend told him that babies are made when a mommy and daddy — aaaaand Dad quickly interrupts by telling his brand-new Kia Sorento to play "Wheels on the Bus," which it does immediately. The distraction is perfect, as the young boy in the back forgets the whole conversation and goes right into the song.

The car's in the commercial for maybe 10 seconds, with most of the production going towards the CGI of Dad's story. Like other successful Super Bowl campaigns, the car isn't the most important aspect of the ad. The viewer might not remember what the car looked like, but they definitely recall that you can say what you want to listen to and that it will comply. That was a feature not many cars had in 2013, which is one of the reasons this ad was so successful for Kia. Presumably, any young parents whose kids watched the ad and then asked where babies really come from are far less fond of it.

The Force Volkswagen (2011)

Pretty much every kid (and adult) has, at one time or another, attempted to use The Force. Wouldn't it be great to Force Choke your enemies, or grab stuff from across the room without having to get up? It would sure make scoring the Super Bowl-winning touchdown easier.

Volkswagen takes this childhood fantasy to heart, employing a young child decked out in full Darth Vader regalia, attempting to use The Force throughout the house. At first, the kid tries to move an exercise machine, before trying to compel the dog off its bed. A sandwich slides over with the help of Mom, much to the disappointment of young Vader. As dad pulls in driving his new VW. Vader runs outside and tries to use The Force to manipulate the car. This time, it actually works! Kind of. Dad hit a button on his key fob, but the kid doesn't need to know that.

The commercial didn't show much of the car at all — like many Super Bowl commercials, it's more about grabbing attention than selling the features of a particular brand. Regardless, people have been talking about this commercial for years, and Volkswagen has been reaping the benefits ever since. The bank account is strong with this one.

Office Linebacker with Terry Tate Reebok (2003)

If you've ever watched football and thought to yourself, "I wonder what it would look like if one of these guys worked in an office," then ... that's kinda weird. Also, you're in luck — this Super Bowl ad by Reebok was made for you!

You might expect Terry Tate to work in the office of a shoe company like Reebok, but this ad is less about their brand and more about making the audience laugh. Tate's introduced by the CEO of Felcher & Sons, as a linebacker supplied by Reebok to help deal with productivity issues around the workplace. We're treated to Tate running through the office, tackling his coworkers for minor infractions like not using a cover memo on a TPS report, or playing Solitaire on the computer.

The spot was so well-received, it launched several sequels, all of which did very well, though not well enough to curb Solitaire at the workplace. As you well know.

1984 Apple Macintosh (1984)

While it now launches products with flashy "events" streamed live from its posh California headquarters, Apple showed it had a flair for the dramatic way back in 1984 with its first commercial for the Macintosh personal computer. Airing briefly in late 1983 (to qualify for ad industry awards), the dystopian, Orwellian "1984" aired on national television just once, during Super Bowl XVIII, in, well, 1984.

It's a far cry from the usual commercial formula of the era — people with toothy grins excitedly singing or yelling about a product as they hold it close to their faces — as Apple commissioned a one-minute movie. Directed by Ridley Scott of "Blade Runner" and "Alien" fame, it opens with sad people in identical gray clothes marching into a bleak arena to endure what's clearly another brainwashing session at the hands of their totalitarian overlords. A stern face on a giant screen drills home messages like, "We are one people, one resolve, one cause." It's all interrupted when a fresh-faced blonde in an Olympics-style uniform runs in and throws a hammer into the screen. She's disrupting the tyranny of sameness, sending the message that Apple is disrupting the tyranny of PCs with its new desktop machine. A final crawl spells it out for viewers: "On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you'll see why 1984 won't be like '1984.'" Both Advertising Age and TV Guide later called "1984" the best TV commercial ... ever.

Joust Bud Light (2019)

When Super Bowl LIII cut to a high-priced ad break, millions of viewers put down their beers to pay attention to the latest commercial from Budweiser, a long-time football advertiser who often brings something funny and clever to the big game. It seemed like this one would rank in the canon with those old Bud Bowls — it opens on a scene of a medieval joust, where revelers shout Bud's ubiquitous catchphrase "Dilly dilly!" awaiting a horseback sword battle featuring Bud's new ad mascot, the Bud Knight. The bout gets underway, but shockingly the challenger fells the mighty, blue-armored Bud Knight. Gruesomely (and thankfully, off-screen), the mysterious opponent gouges out the eyes of the Bud Knight, a disgustingly violent thing not ordinarily seen in a TV commercial, and also a clear reference to that time the Mountain did the same thing to Oberyn during a "trial by combat." Actually, this fearsome jouster is the Mountain from "Game of Thrones."

Suddenly, a dragon soars overhead ... to the iconic strains of the "Game of Thrones" theme song. Wait, this isn't an ad for Bud Light at all ... it's for "Game of Thrones!" That's the one thing people love even more than beer.

Cindy Crawford Pepsi (1992 & reaired in 2001)

When supermodel Cindy Crawford decided she needed to stop off and get herself a Pepsi, she entered the zeitgeist in what has become the most iconic ad the soda brand has ever put forth.

Set to the tune of Doris Troy's "Just One Look," two young boys watch the gorgeous model — wearing a tight, white tank top and cut-off denim shorts — walk up to a vending machine and take a long, supermodelly drink from a Pepsi can. One boy says to the other exactly what everyone knows the average pre-teen boy is always thinking: "Is that a great new Pepsi can or what?"

The ad was so popular, it spawns humorous parodies to this day. Pepsi recreated it in 2016 as an animated short using emojis, and James Corden dressed as Crawford for his spin on the original. Let's just say the shorts didn't work as well the second time around.

Bud-wie-ser Frogs (1995)

Here's a fun fact: According to VinePair, Anheuser-Busch commercials have been a Super Bowl staple for a long time — and in fact, there was a time when they were the only beer advertising during the Big Game. They signed their exclusive deal in 1989, and in 1995, they made a massive splash: Not only was it the first year that the price tag of a 30-second spot reached more than a million dollars, but their splash was literal with the debut of the Budweiser Frogs.

It was simple, straightforward, and yet clever: Three frogs sitting on lilypads do what frogs do, and croak a medley of syllables until they finally get to the point that every viewer knew they were going to get to eventually: "Bud." "Wie." "Ser."

The birth of the Budweiser Frogs was a big deal, and Insider reports that they were both critically acclaimed and a pop culture juggernaut of the late-1990s. It might seem weird in hindsight, but they also ended up being highly controversial. By 1996, the Los Angeles Times was reporting that organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) were outraged by the use of adorable, kid-friendly characters like the frogs for advertising alcoholic beverages. By the '00s, the Frogs had gone the way of the dodo.

Old Spice: The Man Your Man Could Smell Like (2010)

There's no way to smell television — at least, not yet — so how, exactly, does a company advertise something based on a scent? Two seconds into Old Spice's iconic "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" commercial, viewers already wanted to know what the heck was possibly going to happen next. The Old Spice guy's rapid-fire delivery — "Look down. Back up. Where are you? You're on a boat. With the man your man could smell like" — absolutely made the commercial, no sense of smell necessary.

The campaign debuted during Super Bowl XLIV, but it almost didn't. According to Adweek, it was jumbled together in just a few days to fill 30 seconds of advertising time that Old Spice's parent company Proctor and Gamble just didn't know what to do with. They decided to use it to try to get rid of a product that had seen no success selling whatsoever: Old Spice body wash. So, they wrote the script, cast it, and filmed it in three days ... and P&G hated it so much that they didn't want to use it at all.

Fortunately, they ignored that first knee-jerk reaction, and the nation got Isaiah Mustafa ... on a horse.

It's a Tide Ad (2018)

Laundry detergent doesn't seem super exciting, but in 2018, Tide not only rolled out a super clever idea, but they successfully hijacked almost every other ad in the game. How? By featuring David Harbour first apparently advertising a car, then some beer, then a mysteriously weird, angelic sort of something-or-other ... until finally, he reveals that it's a Tide ad (while he's dressed as an insurance adjuster).

Harbour points out that even the mechanic has clean, spotless clothes, so it must be a Tide ad. Through a series of following spots, the theme continues: Is it a diamond jewelry ad? Nope — Tide. Fizzy drink? No. Mattresses? No. Shaving cream? Nope! They all have clean clothes, so he asked, "Does this make every Super Bowl ad a Tide ad?"

It was a brilliantly meta piece of marketing that continued with Old Spice, Budweiser, and Mr. Clean commercials that all got interrupted and revealed for being a Tide ad. It's incredibly smart and observant alone, but it also got viewers hooked, and had millions of people watching the high-priced advertising of other companies — while wondering, "Is this a Tide ad?"

Budweiser: Puppy Love (2014)

Right, so this is the commercial that has animal lovers tearing up just thinking about it because it's so darn adorable that it physically hurts. This, of course, is the commercial where the rascally puppy sneaks away from his home and heads to the Clydesdale farm, where he licks the nose of his special friend, dances in the barn, and then looks forlornly over the shoulder of the person who starts carrying him away — back where, in theory, he's supposed to belong.

Again, and again, and again. The audience knows where he belongs, and when he's adopted out to a new family, his Clydesdale buddy makes it perfectly clear that he knows where he belongs, too. He recruits his other friends to help him stop the car, and if the triumphant prance of the liberated puppy leading a whole herd of Clydesdales doesn't hit right in the feels, then nothing will break through that cold, dead heart.

Inc. says that the ad's brilliance is in the story and the subtlety — there is, after all, no mention of the fact that it's a Budweiser ad, relying on the iconic Clydesdales to get that across. And it absolutely worked: According to The Washington Post, the ad had more than 23 million views on the Friday morning before it had even aired during the Super Bowl. The preview was a great thing: Get those tears out.

Google: Loretta (2020)

While most Super Bowl ads get attention by being funny, witty, clever, or packed with star power, Google's 2020 commercial didn't do any of that. What it did was hit people right in the feels, with a simple commercial that started with an unseen person typing something into a search bar: "how to not forget".

A voice instructs Google, "Hey Google, show me photos of me and Loretta," and Google obliges by showing some candid family photos: A couple hugging, a younger version of the same couple, clearly getting ready to go on a trip ... or coming back from one. Viewers start to learn that Loretta loved their vacations in Alaska (perhaps that's where the travelers were going?) and that "Casablanca" was their favorite movie, as a whole list of memories scrolls past. "Remember? I'm the luckiest man in the world," the voice says. Anyone who doesn't tear up after that one has no soul, and here's the thing: It's a true story.

Google Chief Marketing Officer Lorraine Twohill released a statement about the commercial, saying that the narrator is the man in the photos, and Loretta is his very real wife, also pictured. At the time of the recording, he was 85 years old: " an audience of millions, he'll be making his film debut," Twohill wrote. "We couldn't be happier for him."

Wendy's: Where's the Beef? (1984)

Wendy's is known for their wonderfully snarky social media presence, and it turns out that they've always sort of been that way — most famously when the first "Where's the beef?" commercial ran in 1984. That gray-haired, little old lady unhappy with her tiny burger and demanding to know "Where's the beef?" is Clara Peller, who broke into acting at the completely respectable age of 80. According to the Tampa Bay Times, she's a big part of the reason for the slogan: It was supposed to be "Where is all the beef?" but her emphysema was so bad that she had to shorten it.

And it totally worked. When the three ladies walk up to the counter of the "Home of the Big Bun," they're initially amazed by the hamburger bun. But Clara? Not Clara, and she's not going to stand for this sort of thing.

The campaign was wildly successful and became one of those pop culture juggernauts that define the decade. According to Yahoo!, it spawned everything from songs to a board game, but surprisingly, it didn't last that long. When Peller appeared in a Prego commercial claiming that she had found the beef in their spaghetti sauce, Wendy's cut her contract short. That was only in 1985 — she passed away two years later.

Budweiser: Whassup! (2000)

There are some things that make us all human, and one of those things is that it's just intrinsically funny to see four friends sitting around, drinking Budweiser, and yelling "Whassup!" at each other. Does it have the makings of a winning Super Bowl commercial? It turns out that yes, it does — even though that's literally all that the commercial involves.

Mel Magazine says that the commercial was actually based on and recreated from a short film by Charles Stone III. He wanted to break into directing, and the film — called "True" — was his sample piece. The short film was basically an extended version of the commercial, and after showing it to a few friends and coworkers, ad man Vinny Warren knew that he'd hit the jackpot when they couldn't stop saying, "Whassup!" to each other.

It ended up being one of the 30-odd choices presented to Anheuser-Busch, and it aired shortly after halftime during the 2000 Super Bowl. It was a massive hit, and there was something else that ended up being important, too: Because it was shot so simply, there were no fancy special effects, and no complicated sets, it was easy to parody — and parody, people did.

The E*Trade Baby (2008)

It's not even necessary to like human children to get a laugh out of the E*Trade baby, who looked straight into the camera and marveled, "You just say me buy a stock. No big deal. I mean, you know. If I can do it, you can do it," before promptly throwing up all over himself. ("Whoa!")

The spot went on to spawn an entire campaign, and according to ad agency Grey's CEO Michael Houston, it's his favorite out of all the advertising spots and campaigns they ran (via The Drum). Most people agreed ... until, that is, E*Trade got a new CEO who promptly fired the company's head of marketing, the ad agency, and a whole bunch of other people when he stepped in. 

According to CNBC, that's why audiences saw the entrance of a cat, only to have the baby get annoyed as all get-out and he literally got out of town. That was the last audiences saw of him ... until, that is, the Super Bowl in 2022. That, says Yahoo!, is when everyone learned the E*Trade Baby was living off-the-grid, just waiting to get called back into action. "I'll get my onesies!"

Coca-Cola: Hey, Kid. Catch! (1980)

First things first: That iconic Coca-Cola commercial with the Pittsburgh Steelers' Mean Joe Green and an adorable little tyke who offers him a Coke didn't first air during the Super Bowl — it aired a few months prior, but according to People, it became a famous bit of Americana thanks to the Super Bowl.

And it really is great stuff. Joe Green had a reputation for a reason, and the sight of him — limping and miserable — coming off the field is a fearsome one, indeed. Until, that is, the voice chimes in to let him know that he's his absolute hero, and offers him a Coke. He, of course, instantly feels better, while the selfless little urchin — who didn't quite get the warm welcome he was hoping for — shuffles dejectedly back off down the corridor. Green calls him back — "Hey, kid! Catch!" — and tosses him his jersey. There's an old saying about how you should never meet your heroes, but sometimes, you absolutely should.

That's doubly true here. Green and the not-so-little-anymore tyke reunited in 2016 — almost 40 years since they shot the commercial. The reunions came for a CBS special on Super Bowl commercials, when Greene explained that he had chugged 18 bottles of Coke, and his young fan, Tommy Okon, shared the fact that Greene remains "one of his oldest friends." When they reenacted the commercial, Green teared up and Okon volunteered, "Not so mean, this guy." D'awww!