2020 took us all on a wild roller coaster ride, but we’re still here … and there’s still football. In fact, America’s great-golden Super Bowl Sunday is just around the corner now. On Sunday, February 7, Super Bowl LV will christen the TV screens of football fans throughout the nation. And while “The Big Game,” as advertisers are forced to call it, is a massively viewed event, for some, it’s the most anticipated commercials of the entire year that make the game worth watching.
Some commercials really do impress, some fall flat, and a select few become all-time classics. To help you get geared up for this year’s battle between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs and all the action that surrounds it, we dove deep and compiled 13 of the greatest Super Bowl commercials ever. Enjoy!
Smaht Pahk, Hyundai (2020)
Ah yes, the cherished Boston accent. A staple of New England dialects, Chris Evans, John Krasinski, Rachel Dratch, and Big Papi serve up their mightiest interpretations of the B-Town twang in this vehicle ad. Promoting the 2020 Hyundai Sonata, the ensemble rolls into a hilarious exchange of Sonata features, including Remote Smart Parking Assist.
The Showdown, McDonald’s (1993)
Basketball legends Larry Bird and Michael Jordan face-off for a Big Mac in this classic Super Bowl commercial. Underscored by early ’90s R&B, the two titans start making a series of increasingly wild bets with each other, including “no dunking,” “off the glass,” and “one knee.” In a match where the loser watches the winner chow down on a full McDonald’s lunch, the burger kingpin delivered an iconic commercial that has more than stood the test of time.
It’s a Tide Ad, Tide (2018)
Starring Stranger Things‘ David Harbour, Tide rolled out a hilarious series of commercials in 2018 that poked fun at not just its competition on Super Bowl Sunday but at the concept of these larger-than-life ads altogether. It was a clever, well-executed campaign highlighted by spectacular moments from Harbour, like when he shared a horse with the Old Spice guy or took the place of Mr. Clean and showed off a few dance moves.
I’d Like To Buy the World a Coke, Coca-Cola (1971)
Not just one of the most iconic Super Bowl commercials of all time, this musical pitch for Coca-Cola is also widely regarded as one of the best ads ever made. The commercial epitomized the spirit of the early ’70s by gathering an international cast of students and young adults from around Rome to join in a song about peace, love, and, of course, buying the world a Coke. The ad was so popular when it aired that the tune was later re-recorded by The New Seekers and The Hillside Singers and released as a full-length song that became a hit record in both the U.S. and the U.K.
Up for Whatever, Budweiser (2014)
One of several Budweiser spots on this list, this ad sees the beer company take a unique approach by appealing to our penchant for “reality” TV. A woman walks up to an unsuspecting patron in a bar (no, really) and offers him a Bud on one condition: He has to be “up for whatever.” Accepting the challenge, he sets out on an epic journey that includes playing ping-pong with Arnold Schwarzenegger, getting fitted for a sports jacket by actress Minka Kelly, and running into Don Cheadle and a llama in an elevator. No doubt this was the best day of this guy’s life, and the commercial paid off in spades for Budweiser when it went viral, leading to a follow-up spot in 2015.
Where’s the Beef, Wendy’s (1984)
Actress Clara Peller delivers the oft-quoted “where’s the beef?” line that makes this Wendy’s Super Bowl ad a true winner. Receiving a gloriously large hamburger bun with an undersized meat patty and condiments in the middle, Wendy’s took aim at competitors like McDonald’s and Burger King, claiming that at Wendy’s, you always get the meat to match the bun.
Before Alexa, Amazon (2020)
Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi wonder aloud “what the world was like before Alexa,” Amazon’s popular voice assistant. In this sprawling historical commercial, we move through sketch after hilarious sketch of medieval and Old West denizens delivering “voice commands” to their own assistants of their respective eras. Even Richard Nixon makes an appearance before we cut back to the modern-day. It’s witty, high-budget, and a standout ad from last year’s game.
1984, Apple (1984)
Faced with stiff competition from IBM, Apple hired famed movie director Ridley Scott for this controversial but iconic ad that suggested viewers break the mold and opt for the upcoming Macintosh computer instead of those bland boxes. The powerful message: Avoid creating a society that can be likened to George Orwell’s terrifying one from the novel 1984. While Apple almost pulled the ad for fear of its reception, we’re glad they didn’t. It demonstrated what Steve Jobs was capable of, as well as his unwavering confidence in taking the company on its own path toward success.
Hey Kid, Catch, Coca-Cola (1979)
Way back in 1979, this Coca-Cola commercial tugged on viewers’ heartstrings. A 9-year-old boy approaches the limping, stone-faced Mean Joe Greene after a game, offering up some help and his Coca-Cola, only to dejectedly walk away after handing it over. That is, until Green calls him back, smiles, and throws his jersey to him. Awww.
Secret Society, Avocados From Mexico (2017)
An instant classic as soon as it aired in 2017, this commercial poked fun at well-known conspiracies and myths by portraying a secret society that is hilariously struggling to keep its secrets from being leaked to the general public. Adding to the society’s blemishes, the members fall victim to the subliminal advertising and start gorging themselves on guacamole after an amusing cameo from Jon Lovitz. Besides the hilarious premise, the ad is also quite effective in that it will have your taste buds salivating for the deliciousness of chips and guac.
Whassup, Budweiser (1999)
Chances are you cringe today if someone shouts “Whassup!” with his tongue outstretched. That’s sooo ’90s, right? But back when it first aired, Budweiser managed to create a pop culture phrase through this single ad focused on a group of buddies, which led to a series of others over the next few years. The funniest follow-up came two years later and involved a group of males with their version called “What are you doing?”
Crazy Legs, Levi’s (2002)
You can’t keep your eyes off this teenager strutting down the street doing his own crazy “dance” to Control Machete’s Si Señor. As he bops to the tunes playing from his headphones, his legs, outfitted with a baggy pair of Levi’s jeans, seem to take on a life of their own. As he walks past store windows, even his reflection has its own moves in mind. It’s mesmerizing.
Baby, E-Trade (2008)
E-Trade somehow managed to make investments trendy and cool with this clever series of ads that showcased adorable little ones talking about the importance of trading and investing. The mannerisms, lip movements, and comedian Pete Holmes’ voice-over simply made these commercials too cute to resist and had us all ready to hand over our portfolios to the savvy, pint-sized spokesperson.
Cindy Crawford, Pepsi (1992)
Perfectly exemplifying the innocence of young boys and suggesting the insatiable desire for Pepsi, this early ’90s commercial had men’s eyes bugging out, only to leave them laughing in the end with its clever twist. The commercial is so iconic that Pepsi re-created it as an homage of sorts decades later.
The Force, Volkswagen (2011)
This 2012 Passat commercial is still topical today due to the recent release of Star Wars: Episode VIII — The Last Jedi. In the ad, a young boy in a Darth Vader costume walks around his house, trying desperately to use “The Force” to move anything in his home. Clearly disappointed, he runs outside when his father arrives home to try one last time. He outstretches his hands toward the car, and well, his reaction to what happens next is priceless. It’s no surprise this ad has become the most-shared Super Bowl video of all time.
Puppy Love, Budweiser (2014)
Before The Force took the throne, Budweiser’s Puppy Love commercial was the most-shared Super Bowl video of all time. Animal lovers couldn’t resist shedding a tear as they watched a small dog and its Clydesdale friend refuse to be separated. Best buds forever. See what we did there?
Comfortable, Rocket Mortgage (2020)
Jason Momoa stars in this oddball bit from the folks at Rocket Mortgage. Demonstrating that we should be “comfortable” when selecting our mortgage, the hunkish action star moves through his elaborate compound home, stripping off parts of his imposing edifice. Shedding his muscles and flowing hair, we’re left with a scrawny version of Aquaman. A tremendous CGI exhibition, this is one we won’t forget. Well done, Rocket Mortgage.
Wise Guy, Pepsi (1990)
Ray Charles didn’t shy away from having a little fun with this 1990 commercial that had him proclaim his love for Diet Pepsi, only to have the blind musician pick up a can of Coke. Upon tasting the switched-up soda, he asks, “Who’s the wise guy?” It was an unexpected angle for the ad to take, which made it that much more memorable.
Super Bowl 55 kicks off at 6:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Feb. 7, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.