Super Bowl commercials: Top 20 all-time ad spots following Chiefs’ overtime win over 49ers
Written by CBS SPORTS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED on February 12, 2024
Super Bowl LVIII is in the books, and it was one for the history books. In terms of the commercials, there was one that forced us to revise out top 20 ads of all-time after the Kansas City Chiefs took down the San Francisco 49ers, 25-22, in overtime.
As is always the case, there was just as much attention paid to the commercials as to the game itself. There were some solid ads throughout Super Bowl LVIII, with companies like BMW, Dunkin’, Google, and Kia making an impression and climbing into our top 10 on the 2024 list. However, there was only one commercial worth of being added to the top 20 of all-time.
Paramount did not play it safe with its commercial for its streaming service, Paramount+, and that set it apart from the rest of the ads that ran during the game. The highly successful ad nearly vaulted Paramount+ into the top 10 commercials of all-time, but it just fell short behind some truly iconic ads.
Over the last several decades, some next-level Super Bowl commercials have graced our television screens, and we’re going to take a look back at some of those today. From iconic film director Ridley Scott creating an ad for Apple, to a trio of amphibians promoting their favorite beverage, to Betty White laying the lumber in a pickup football game, these ads have etched their place in history.
After more companies threw their best pitch during Super Bowl LVIII on Sunday, let’s review the top 20 commercials of all-time.
20. Tide | Talking Stain
Few things are more bothersome than being out in public with a glaring stain on the front of your shirt, and this Tide commercial captures that perfectly. The “Talking Stain” ad aired during Super Bowl XLII, and it was one of the most popular from that game. It made a pretty good case for keeping a detergent pen on hand at all times.
19. Honda | Yearbooks
Super Bowl Sunday is a day in which every player on the field gets to live out a lifelong dream, and that is the theme of this Honda ad from Super Bowl LI is about exactly that. A handful of celebrities, in the form of their yearbook photos, talk about chasing their dreams in life. This one provides some nostalgia and humor, making for quite the Super Bowl combo.
18. Hyundai | Smart Park
Hyundai looked to New England for inspiration in this Super Bowl LIV ad. They pulled together quite a bit of Boston star power in John Krasinski, Chris Evans, Rachel Dratch and Big Papi himself. The “Smaht Pahk” commercial provided some laughs during the commercial break, and it definitely got the message across. There were no questions about the newest feature on the Sonata after this one.
17. PopCorners | “Breaking Bad”
Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston reprised their roles as Jesse Pinkman and Walter White for this “Breaking Bad” commercial. The show’s creator and director, Vince Gilligan, also returned to write this Super Bowl LVII ad for PopCorners, which featured a cameo appearance from Raymond Salamanca’s Tuco. At least this time, Walt and Jesse were dealing with a perfectly legal product.
16. Walmart | Famous Cars
This commercial for Walmart’s pick-up service, which aired during Super Bowl LIII, has a little something for everybody. Lightning McQueen. The Batmobile. The Ecto-1. A “Jurassic Park” Jeep. Those and several more recognizable cars from pop culture provided a fun touch for viewers who scrambled to see how many they could identify before the commercial was over.
15. NFL | NFL 100
The NFL has aired some fun Super Bowl commercials recently, but the one celebrating the league’s 100th season is probably the best. Some of the biggest NFL stars, past and present, got together for this Super Bowl LIV ad. It was fun to see players like Joe Montana, Prime Time and Barry Sanders interacting with the best current players while smashing up a ballroom.
14. Budweiser | Instant Replay
The Clydesdales are something of a Super Bowl tradition, and this is one of the more popular ads in which they’ve starred. The addition of the zebra, as well as the one-liner at the end of the ad, made for a memorable moment during the Super Bowl XXXVII commercial breaks. Another notable feature of this ad is that it was directed by now famous filmmaker Zack Snyder.
13. Parmount+ | Mountain of Entertainment
Paramount went out on a limb for its Super Bowl LVIII commercial, and it really paid off with the most memorable ad of the game. I’m sure there was some internal discussion about whether letting Sir Patrick Stewart fire Arnold from “Hey Arnold” into the side of a cliff was the best premise, but it worked. Add in an appearance from Creed and Jeff Probst jamming out on a “Survivor” torch and an understandably anxious Peppa Pig, and you’ve got a real winner here.
12. FedEx | “Cast Away”
When “Cast Away” was released in December 2000, it became a huge hit, and it also served as the inspiration for a FedEx Super Bowl commercial just a couple years later. The Super Bowl XXXVII commercial is a spoof on Tom Hanks’ character in the movie, a FedEX employee who is stranded on an island after a plane crash. This commercial’s ending did take a slightly different tone than that of the Oscar-nominated film.
11. Volkswagen | The Force
When in doubt, play the “Star Wars” card. That is the approach Volkswagen took in this Super Bowl XLV ad in 2011. “The Imperial March’ provides a familiar tone, and little Darth Vader was the perfect way to show the remote start feature on the new Passat. Volkswagen gets credit for sticking out among the bevy of car commercials fans see during Super Bowl Sunday.
10. Reebok | Terry Tate: Office Linebacker
Terry Tate made his debut during Super Bowl XXXVII and immediately became a viral sensation. Tate even got a series of ads in which he strictly enforces rules around the office. The actor who plays Tate, Lester Speight, did play linebacker at Morgan State and tried out for several USFL teams before taking on the popular role of Office Linebacker.
9. E*Trade | Talking Babies
The E*Trade talking baby made such a splash in Super Bowl XLII that it inspired a host of spin-off ads featuring even more talking babies. The original commercial was a smash hit, and the spit-up at the end was the perfect way to end it. E*Trade has even brought the babies back for multiple Super Bowl commercials in recent years, but nothing will ever beat the first.
8. Pepsi | Cindy Crawford
They say the best comedy is subversive, and that is the case with this Super Bowl XXVI ad featuring supermodel Cindy Crawford. Throughout the entire commercial, the focus is on Crawford — until the rug gets pulled out from under viewers at the end when the young boys reveal they are actually focusing on the newest Pepsi can. Crawford came back for another role in a Pepsi’s 2018 Super Bowl commercial.
7. Coca-Cola | Mean Joe Greene
This commercial did debut prior to Super Bowl XIV, but we will choose to ignore that because many modern Super Bowl ads drop before the actual game now. Besides, this commercial really shot to iconic status when it aired during that Super Bowl, which Joe Greene played in and won with the Pittsburgh Steelers, defeating the Los Angeles Rams.
6. Budweiser | Frogs
Budweiser has made a habit out of creating hit Super Bowl ads over the years, and its Super Bowl XXIX commercial featuring the frogs was another example. Like the “Whassup?” commercial, this one takes a very simple approach, and it worked like a charm. These frogs were so successful and popular that the little amphibians hung around for several years.
5. Wendy’s | Where’s the Beef?
Super Bowl XVIII was a big game for commercials, and one of the icons that came out of it was “Where’s the Beef?” Prior to the existence of social media, Wendy’s subtweeted its fast food rivals by calling them out for having an absurdly high bun-to-beef ratio on their burgers. This commercial also got a shoutout from Michael Scott in an episode of “The Office” entitled “Dunder Mifflin Infinity.”
4. McDonald’s | Jordan vs. Bird
Who wouldn’t want to watch Michael Jordan and Larry Bird go up against each other in a game of one-on-one? That makes this Super Bowl XXVII a winner right off the bat. The two NBA legends were battling on the court for a Big Mac, and neither one wanted to relent. This ad really capitalized off the buzz that Jordan and Bird helped create from the 1992 Dream Team.
3. Apple | 1984
Normally, to see a Ridley Scott project you have to go to the movie theater. However, he was hired to direct this now famous Apple commercial that aired during Super Bowl XVIII, along with “Where’s the Beef?” The ad really does feel like the type of sci-fi movie Scott would direct, and it even gives some “Alien” and “Blade Runner” vibes. No wonder this one was so well-received.
2. Snickers | Betty White
The Snickers “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” campaign has taken several different forms in recent years, with multiple celebrities appearing in the ads. However, this Super Bowl XLIV commercial starring Betty White is probably the funniest and most famous. Seeing the late actress and comedian lay punishing hits and talk trash at a pickup football game was pretty memorable.
1. Budweiser | Whassup?
It’s not very often commercials start trends in real life, but that’s what Budweiser did with its “Whassup?” ad during Super Bowl XXXIV. It was just a case of guys being dudes and calling one another up during the big game. The simple yet effective commercial wriggled its way into pop culture as well, and it was even referenced by Steve Carrell’s Michael Scott in the pilot episode of “The Office.”
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