We're in It for the Ads! These Are the 50 Best Super Bowl Commercials of All Time

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

From the '70s to today, these are the best of the best.

Is the Super Bowl a football game interrupted by commercials, or commercials interrupted by a football game?

The NFL championship is the rare live sporting event that has viewers looking forward to ad breaks, thanks to a tradition of star-studded, big-budget, high-concept commercials that bend over backwards to entertain. The best ones are fun to watch even years later, when you’re no longer on a couch eating buffalo wings (though that is the preferred viewing position). Here are our picks for the 50 best super bowl commercials of all time, including Budweiser Clydesdales, mini-Darth Vader and your recommended daily dose of Britney Spears—in no particular order.

Best Super Bowl Commercials of All Time

Apple, “1984” (1984)

Perhaps the only Super Bowl ad that can properly be called “iconic,” this George Orwell-inspired commercial (directed by Blade Runner’s Ridley Scott) promised that the new Apple Macintosh would give power to the people, preventing a dystopian future where no one can think for themselves. The commercial was so risky that Apple’s board of directors tried to stop it from airing, but in the end, it worked. As for that whole preventing-a-dystopian-future thing, the verdict is still out.

Pepsi, “We Will Rock You” (2004)

It’s the pinnacle of Super Bowl star power: three minutes of Beyoncé, Britney Spears and Pink, dressed as Roman gladiators, singing “We Will Rock You” in the actual Colosseum. Enrique Iglesias plays the Pepsi-withholding emperor. We could watch this all night.

Pepsi, “Cindy Crawford” (1992)

It’s a fact: No one has ever looked as good in cut-off shorts and a tank top as supermodel Cindy Crawford did in 1992. Crawford looked just as stunning when she re-recreated the blockbuster Pepsi commercial in 2018, at the age of 51, with her model son Presley Gerber. But nothing can top the original ad.

Coca-Cola, “Hey Kid, Catch!” (1979)

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ “Mean” Joe Greene, extra-mean after sustaining an injury, turns his frown upside-down after an earnest young fan shares his Coke. Sweet and simple, it’s been parodied by Sesame Street, Family Guy and Greene himself in a 2012 Downy commercial with Amy Sedaris.

Volkswagen, “The Force” (2011)

Just try not to smile at this pint-sized Darth Vader attempting to use his (or her!) Force powers on a washing machine, a peanut butter sandwich and the family dog. When Little Darth finally succeeds (or so it seems) on a Volkswagen Passat, the tiny villain is even more shocked than the audience. Somehow, it wouldn’t have been half as cute if the kid was dressed as Luke Skywalker.

Related: Get Ready for Music's Biggest Night With Our Guide to the 2020 Grammys

McDonald’s, “The Showdown” (1993)

Larry Bird challenges Michael Jordan to a friendly shooting contest for his Big Mac, but the basketball hall-of-famers keep raising the stakes. This is the commercial that made it mandatory to say, “Nothing but net!” before tossing a basketball, much to the chagrin of gym teachers everywhere. In 2010, Bird made a cameo in McDonald’s updated remake starring Dwight Howard and LeBron James.

Snickers, “Game” (2010)

“Mike, you’re playing like Betty White out there.” “That’s not what your girlfriend says!” The Golden Girl is hysterical as a young football player’s tired, hungry alter ego in this Snickers commercial, which also features a cameo by Abe Vigoda. This commercial kicked off the candy company’s brilliant “You’re not you when you’re hungry” campaign, and more importantly, reminded the world that White is a national treasure.

FedEx, “The Lollipop Guild” (2000)

The Munchkins need an emergency FedEx shipment to restore their squeaky voices in this exceptionally clever tribute to The Wizard of Oz. Created with original footage from the 1939 film, along with lookalike actors and digital effects, the Super Bowl ad was subsequently pulled off the air because it showed the inhalation of helium.

Pepsi, “Joy of Pepsi” (2001)

What is it about these Britney Spears Pepsi commercials that makes them so watchable, almost 20 years later? In this one, Spears dances in a Pepsi factory, sings a super-catchy jingle, and looks like she’s genuinely having a great time. The ad re-aired during the 2001 Academy Awards with cut-ins of people watching from home, including Spears’ fellow Pepsi spokesperson and former Presidential candidate Bob Dole.

Pepsi, “Now and Then” (2002) 

Spears sings and dances her way through multiple generations of Pepsi jingles, playing a ‘50s soda fountain customer, a ‘60s go-go dancer, a beach bunny, a hippie and ‘80s rock star Robert Palmer in a series of flawlessly recreated vintage ads. The timeline ends with her “Joy of Pepsi” commercial from the previous year, because it’s never too soon to be nostalgic.

Old Spice, “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” (2010)

In 2010, after decades of commercials featuring sexy women, Old Spice welcomed female thirst to the Super Bowl. Isaiah Mustafa, who begins the ad in a shower and ends it on a horse, looks great shirtless, but it’s his straight-to-the-camera narration that really sells the olfactory fantasy.

Always, “#LikeaGirl” (2015)

The maxi-pad brand asks some grown women, men and boys to do things “like a girl”--then asks the same thing of young girls. Get ready to shed some tears if you haven’t seen this one. (Watch an extended version here.)

NFL, “Touchdown Celebrations to Come” (2018)

In celebration of the NFL lifting its ban on touchdown dances, New York Giants Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. do the Dirty Dancing finale—and absolutely nail it, right down to the lift. No stunt doubles or spaghetti arms here!

Coca-Cola, “Hilltop Reunion” 1990

Coke’s original 1971 “Hilltop” ad, featuring the charting single “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony),” did not air during the Super Bowl. But this sequel, which reunited the original singers on that very same hill--with their children--was a sweet Super Bowl surprise.

Nike, “Hare Jordan” (1993)

This Air Jordans ad, starring Bugs Bunny and Michael “Not Elmer Fudd” Jordan, inspired the film Space Jam. Need we say more?

Xerox, “Monks” (1977)

This very Catholic Xerox commercial seems quaint now, but “the first viral ad” is credited with making the Super Bowl an event where the commercials are as entertaining as the game. Plus, it’s still funny. Xerox remade the ad for its 40th anniversary, with the original monk delivering its punchline.

Budweiser, “The Extra Point” (1996)

A team of majestic Clydesdale horses gallops across the wild plains…and right into a football scrimmage. Clever editing makes it look like the horses are actually playing, making this one of Bud’s more memorable Clydesdale spots.

Late Show with David Letterman (2010)

Future generations may not understand what a big deal it was to get late-night rivals David Letterman and Jay Leno on the same sofa, let alone with fellow TV legend Oprah Winfrey as mediator. For those of us who grew up in the pre-streaming era, it’s an astonishing 19 seconds.

Frito-Lay, “Nuzzle and Nibble” (1997)

Miss Piggy ditches supermodels Kathy Ireland and Vendela to woo soap-opera heartthrob Antonio Sabato, Jr. in this Baked Lays ad. By the end of the commercial, of course, his heart has been broken (not to mention his arm).

Pepsi and Lucasfilm, “Darth Vader, (1997)

A double-whammy to advertise both the soft drink and the Star Wars Special Edition theatrical release, this commercial arguably has better effects than the Special Edition films.

Tabasco, “Mosquito” (1998)

This one-man ad couldn’t be simpler—but just try going to an outdoor barbecue without thinking about it even once.

FedEx, “We Apologize” (1998)

This practical joke of an ad began by fooling viewers into thinking they’d lost their TV signal. (Those colored bars were once the television equivalent of the Mac’s spinning rainbow wheel.) The joke soon became clear, as the onscreen text described the spectacular commercial that would have aired if the ad agency had used FedEx to get it to the network on time. It’s a commercial that gets a big laugh with what may be the smallest Super Bowl ad budget ever.

Related: 11 Super Bowl Party Recipes From NFL Greats You Need to Recreate for Your Own Bash

Bud Light, “Paper or Plastic” (1999)

Shot like a ‘90s buddy comedy, this beer ad presents an almost-relatable dilemma: to buy beer or toilet paper? The punchline is priceless.

Budweiser, “Clydesdale Respect” (2002)

In this quietly moving tribute to the victims of September 11, Budweiser’s Clydesdale horses leave their Missouri barn, cross the Brooklyn Bridge and kneel at the foot of the New York skyline. The text-free, voiceover-free commercial (not even the word “Budweiser” appears) aired once during the Super Bowl and never again.

Kia, “The Truth” (2012)

Laurence Fishburne reprised his role as Morpheus from The Matrix to promote Kia’s K900 luxury car. The true genius of this ad is in the Wachowski-esque details, like the quick shot of a restaurant patron realizing there is no soup spoon.

Snickers, “The Brady Bunch” (2015)

It took Mars a few years to one-up its Betty White commercial, but recreating a classic Brady Bunch scene, with Danny Trejo as Marcia and Steve Buscemi as Jan, did the trick.

Coca-Cola, “It’s Mine” (2008)

At the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Underdog and Stewie Griffin balloons tussle over a runaway Coke bottle balloon. The surprise ending is a satisfying win for a beloved character who rarely gets one.

Kia, “Space Babies” (2013)

Caught off guard by his young son, a Kia Sorento-driving father weaves an elaborate tale of where babies come from. It’s an old joke, but the commercial’s Babylandia fantasy sequence is so delightful that Kia makes the cut anyway.

NFL, “The 100-Year Game” (2019)

The NFL celebrated its centennial season with this all-star commercial, directed by Friday Night Lights’ Peter Berg. The gala-turned-game features a cast of 50, including current players, retired all-stars and young female football player Sam Gordon (presumably representing the league’s future).

Related: 30 Touchdown Snacks for Football Parties and Tailgating

Budweiser, “Clydesdale Foal” (2013)

In this valentine to animal lovers, a trainer nurtures a just-born Clydesdale foal (later named Hope in an online poll) to proudly pull the Budweiser wagon. Three years later in Chicago, they have the sweetest-ever reunion.

BMW, “Newfangled Idea” (2015)

Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel recreate their viral Today Show clip from 1994, in which they try to understand “what internet is”—but instead, they’re trying to wrap their heads around the electric BMW I3.

Esurance, “Sorta Pharmacy” (2015)

Bryan Cranston gets back into character as Breaking Bad’s Walter White to play a very intimidating pharmacist in this insurance commercial. Say his name. 

“It’s a Tide Ad/It’s Another Tide Ad” (2018)

Is every Super Bowl ad secretly a Tide ad? Stranger ThingsDavid Harbour trespasses through other people’s commercials, including Super Bowl classics like “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like,” to make his surprisingly persuasive argument.

PepsiCo, “Doritos Blaze vs Mountain Dew Ice: Battle” (2018)

The world needed a lip-sync rap battle between Morgan Freeman and Peter Dinklage. We just didn’t know it until they made this Super Bowl commercial. The ice-cold Freeman gets his freak on (with some coaching from Missy Elliott), while Dinklage literally spits fire on Busta Rhymes’ tongue-twisting verse from “Look at Me Now.”

Budweiser, “Frogs” (1995)

Just three lifelike frog puppets, having a conversation about beer. Directed by Pirates of the Caribbean’s Gore Verbinski, this ad established the frog as a Budweiser mascot and opened the door for years of swamp-creature-themed commercials.

PS2, “Future” (2001)

Rather than advertise the new PS2, Sony made a commercial for 2078’s hottest new gaming system, PlayStation 9. The imagined video game system features retinal scanning, holographic images and telepathic personal music—all of which, two decades later, seem totally plausible.

Squarespace, “John Malkovich” (2017)

John Malkovich discovers that he doesn’t own JohnMalkovich.com, and has a very Malkovich identity crisis, in this delightfully deadpan Squarespace ad.

Amazon Alexa, “Ordering Dog Food” (2019)

Amazon’s idea to expose its “failed” Alexa integrations is pretty clever, but it’s Harrison Ford arguing with his Alexa-collar-enabled dog that makes this ad lovable.

Audi, “The Chase” (2009)

Jason Statham stunt-drives his way from the ‘70s through the ‘00s in a series of Audi cars, in a commercial with nods to The French Connection, Miami Vice and Statham’s own Transporter films.

Mastercard, “Errands” (2004)

Mastercard’s long-running “Priceless” campaign finds its best spokesperson in Homer Simpson, who spends a day using his Mastercard around Springfield and arguing with the voiceover.

Subaru, “New Subaru Brat” (1982)

Ruth Gordon (of Harold and Maude and Rosemary’s Baby fame) makes an adorable car saleswoman in this vintage Subaru Super Bowl ad.

Amazon, “Alexa Loses Her Voice” (2018)

Gordon Ramsey, Cardi B, Rebel Wilson and Anthony Hopkins are recruited to replace Alexa, with hilarious results.

Budweiser, “Which Game?” (2000) 

This is the ad that had everyone shouting “WASSUP” at each other for the next six months, which was extremely annoying, but the commercial itself remains endearingly weird.

Denny’s, “Thugs” (2009)

It’s tough to order a hit on somebody when your waitress is putting a whipped-cream beard on your pancakes. This commercial plays like an excellent lost Sopranos scene.

NFL, “Super Bowl Babies Choir” (2016)

For this commercial, the National Football League assembled eight choirs of “Super Bowl Babies,” born nine months after a victorious Super Bowl in their hometown, from the 1967 Packers win to the Seahawks’ 2014 triumph. Also, Seal is there.

Heineken, “Beer Run” (2005)

Stylishly directed by Fight Club’s David Fincher and scored by the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter,” this ad imagines Brad Pitt risking an army of paparazzi to grab a six-pack of Heineken.

Mercedes-Benz, “Soul” (2013)

It was a stroke of genius casting Willem Dafoe, who played Jesus in The Last Temptation of Christ, as the devil in this Mercedes-Benz ad. Dafoe tries to buy a man’s soul in exchange for a life of luxury, but after the man realizes how affordable the new Benz is, all bets are off.

Kia Motors, “How You Like Me Now” (2010)

What do toys think about while they’re collecting dust in the backseat of the car? This Kia Sorento ad delves into the wild fantasy lives of one child’s favorites, including a Muno doll (RIP Yo Gabba Gabba!).

Microsoft, “We All Win” (2019)

A group of physically disabled kids demonstrate how the Xbox adaptive controller allows them to play video games with all of their friends. “He’s not different when he plays,” says one proud dad, holding back tears. By the end of this one you’ll be doing the same.

Doritos, “Chance the Rapper x Backstreet Boys” (2019)

This ad’s remix of the Backstreet Boys’ “I Want It That Way,” featuring new 2023 The Voice coach Chance the Rapper, is surprisingly great—despite being entirely about Flamin’ Hot Nacho Doritos.

Next, 70 Super Dip Recipes Worthy of a Super Bowl Party