Super Bowl ads: 10 best, most memorable commercials over the last 40 years
Cindy Crawford, Britney Spears, Pepsi, Budweiser and Old Spice have given us some of the greatest commercials for the big game
From Cindy Crawford and Britney Spears, and famed athletes and beer brands, Super Bowl ads have been cultural phenomenons for decades.
This year, a 30-second commercial costs US$7 million, up from US$6.5 million last year. But it is really the one time of the year that people are actually actively invested in what brands put forward in their advertisements.
Looking back in history, the ads playing during Super Bowls made us laugh, made us cry and sometimes even became part of the cultural zeitgeist.
Ahead of the big game on Sunday, we're looking back at 10 of the most memorable Super Bowl ads.
1984 - Apple: 1984
Apple really flipped the script on what we can expect from commercials with the 1984 ad, directed by Ridley Scott. The ad takes us into this dystopian scene where people are being controlled by Big Brother (a link to the George Orwell book “1984”). A woman comes running with a mallet and smashes the screen as Big Brother is talking to the brainwashed people. Introducing the Macintosh computer, the ad states, “You’ll see why 1984 won’t be like ‘1984.'”
1984 - Wendy’s: Where’s the Beef
Wendy’s got shady in the ‘80s with its “Where’s the Beef?” Super Bowl ad. The commercial is based around the claim that the company’s hamburger has more meat than Burger King’s Whopper or McDonald’s Big Mac. It leaves three women asking, “Hey, where’s the beef?” looking at competing burgers to the Wendy's variety.
1992 - Pepsi: Cindy Crawford
Pepsi has a long history of creating some of the most memorable ads with the biggest stars, but the “Pepsi: Now and Then” Super Bowl commercial is agreat one. It puts iconic pop star Britne y Spears in different decades. Starting in 1958, this ad had all the nostalgia we wanted, memorable looks from Spears and of course, the catchy “Joy of Pepsi” tune., “Is that a great new Pepsi can or what?” The ad is so memorable that Pepsi brought Crawford back for a 2018 ad.
2002 - Pepsi: Now and Then
Pepsi has a long history of creating some of the most memorable ads with the biggest stars, but the “Pepsi: Now and Then” Super Bowl commercial is a great one. It puts iconic pop star Britney Spears in different decades. Starting in 1958, this ad had all the nostalgia we wanted, memorable looks from Spears and of course, the catchy “Joy of Pepsi” tune.
2010 - Old Spice: The Man Your Man Could Smell Like
The Old Spice guy, Isaiah Amir Mustafa, quickly became a cultural phenomenon and this Super Bowl ad played a big role. The “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” ad was heavily quoted in public following its release, including the “I’m on a horse,” phrase that closes it out.
2010 - Snickers: Betty White
This commercial with Golden Girls star, the late Betty White, was the beginning of the slogan, “You’re not you when you’re hungry.” It features White playing a pick-up football game with a group of younger men. While Snickers has put out some great ads in the past, we can't forget about this one with White.
2014 - Budweiser: Puppy Love
The Budweiser clydesdales is a memorable ad element on its own, but paired with an adorable little puppy, and we just can't resist loving it.
2016 - Mountain Dew: Puppymonkeybaby
This ad from Mountain Dew was so bizarre that when it was released in 2016, it put everyone on the internet in a frenzy. People just had to talk about how weird this thing was. It’s so oddly iconic that Mountain Dew brought the Puppymonkeybaby back for a 2022 spot with Charlie Day and Zach LaVine.
2021 - Toyota: Jessica Long
While a lot of commercials are funny, some of them are memorable for making us emotional, and that’s exactly what happened with Toyota’s 2021 ad with American Paralympic swimmer Jessica Long. The story of the commercial tracks her journey from adoption, to her lower legs having to be amputated and eventually becoming a 16-time gold medalist.
2022 - FTX: Don't miss out with Larry David
Aside from the fact the Larry David is just a joy to watch, what really makes this commercial memorable is that David is sort of foreshadowing the future of FTX in the ad. Skeptical of some of the great inventions of the past, when it gets to the end David isn't totally on board for this FTX pitch as a “safe and simple way to get into crypto." Maybe the skepticism was kind of right.