Skip to main content

The 5 best Super Bowl commercials of all time (and the 4 worst)

What's your favorite Super Bowl commercial?

A group of friends cheering while watching a football game.
Shutterstock

If you’re watching the Super Bowl, you’re likely interested in at least one of at least three different things. You might be watching for the game itself, which is often exciting and is the culmination of months of football. You might be watching for the halftime show, which also varies in quality but is always worth discussing. Or, you might be watching for the Super Bowl commercials (you could also just be hanging around for the food).

Indeed, major corporations shell out huge amounts of money to debut ads during the Super Bowl, and it’s typically where the most prominent ads of the year are produced. Over the years, we’ve seen some truly great Super Bowl ads, as well as some genuinely awful ones. Here are the five best Super Bowl commercials ever, along with the four worst.

4K Restoration: 1984 Super Bowl APPLE MACINTOSH Ad by Ridley Scott

Best: “1984,” Apple

Advertising has to be pretty excellent to have a lasting legacy 40 years after it was first released, and that’s definitely true for “1984.” This commercial, which was created to tease MacIntosh, was an ad for an unsuccessful product. Even so, its invocation of the novel 1984, alongside a massive budget and direction from Ridley Scott, made such an impact, partly because it wasn’t nearly as literal as most advertising of its era.

godaddy danica patrick shower

Worst: “Danica Patrick,” GoDaddy

GoDaddy has a long and horrific history of creating ads that fuel the fantasy of the worst boy you know. In this particular low moment, they created a “sexy” ad in which two teenage boys find that they can control race car driver Danica Patrick through their computer. We truly have no idea what that has to do with purchasing domains for your websites.

Nike - Hare Jordan (1993, USA)

Best: “Hare Jordan,” Nike

This ad was so good that it single-handedly created Space Jam. In it, Bugs Bunny recruits Michael Jordan to help him get revenge on some basketball players who have been bullying him. The ad feels very much like the ’90s, but it had a major cultural impact and was part of Michael’s general expansion into areas outside the game. Michael was already one of the most dominant players in the history of basketball, but ads like this helped him become an even bigger icon.

FTX Super Bowl Don't miss out with Larry David

Worst: “I Don’t Get It,” FTX

Look, if FTX and the broader crypto movement had been a real thing, this ad could have been on the other side of this list. Instead, this ad, in which Larry David proclaims that he doesn’t understand various revolutionary technologies and culminates with him saying the same thing about crypto, feels like it was the final warning sign before the apocalypse. FTX collapsed about a year later, and we’re all still dealing with the fallout.

Fedex - Cast Away Commercial

Best: “Cast Away,” FedEx

As if the movie Cast Away wasn’t enough of an advertisement for FedEx (and one of the best Tom Hanks movies), the company itself decided to take advantage of the movie a few years after it was released. This time, the man stranded on the island delivers his package after a five-year delay, only to discover that the package had everything he might have needed to survive on the island, including a satellite phone, a fishing rod, and some seeds for good measure. It’s a beautiful punchline.

Planters Mr Peanut Funeral. Super Bowl 2020

Worst: “Mr. Peanut’s Funeral,” Mr. Peanut

You have to appreciate the big swing, but killing off Mr. Peanut, the bespectacled mascot behind Planters, was so deeply bizarre that it never had the intended effect. It may have gotten people talking, which you could argue means it was a success, but it’s unclear whether any of that success translated to sales, and people were so mad about the campaign that they ultimately had to resurrect a mascot they seemed to be planning on killing forever.

The Clydesdales "Brotherhood" - 2013 Budweiser Super Bowl [Commercial]

Best: “Brotherhood,” Budweiser

Typically, the most successful Super Bowl ads are memorable because they’re funny, but in the case of “Brotherhood,” Budweiser decided to go a more emotional route, and the results speak for themselves. Telling the story of the bond between a horse and his trainer, the ad manages to capture the feeling of the very best movies about a bond between animal and man. It also features a Clydesdale, Budweiser’s signature animal, meaning that it’s a weepy and hugely successful piece of advertising.

Full Pepsi Commercial Starring Kendal Jenner

Worst: “Kendall Ends Racism,” Pepsi

An ad so insane it feels like it didn’t really exist, this Pepsi ad, which was released amid Black Lives Matter protests during the Trump administration, seemed to suggest that the reason cops and protesters were at each other’s throats was because neither side had been offered a Pepsi by Kendall Jenner. The concept of the ad is so ludicrous on its face, and it’s the rare ad that manages to be offensive to pretty much anyone who has an opinion on racial justice in America, regardless of what that opinion actually is.

Tide Super Bowl Commercial 2018 It's a Tide Ad

Best: “It’s a Tide Ad,” Tide

One of the more brilliant campaigns of recent years came when it felt like Tide had completely taken over the Super Bowl. It parodied every kind of ad under the sun before David Harbour would interject to tell the viewer that this was actually an ad for Tide. It was a brilliant campaign that gave a pretty unexciting product a new way to reach its audience. On top of all that, the clothes in every ad parody were always spotless, thanks to Tide’s cleaning power. It was a brilliant, hooky campaign, so smart it’s amazing someone hadn’t already thought of it.

Editors' Recommendations

Topics
Joe Allen
Contributor
Joe Allen is a freelance culture writer based in upstate New York. His work has been published in The Washington Post, The…
Ranked: The best Disney movies of all time (for kids of all ages) – Up, Toy Story 2, and more
Does your favorite Disney movie make our list of the best Disney movies?
The cast of Coco

As the old saying goes, Disney is for both the young and the young at heart. Although the studio continues to deliver great new movies for the kids of today, kids of days past still have fond memories of their days spent watching the movies that the studio used to make. Now, with the advent of Disney Plus, watching those beloved classics is easier than ever.

Because the best Disney movies are so wrapped up in what you loved as a kid, everyone's list is going to be different. And now that Disney owns mega properties like Marvel and Star Wars, the roster of available movies now on Disney+, continues to grow. You might not agree with this list, and there are plenty of great Disney movies not on it, but if you're looking for some other options, we also have a list of the best Disney Plus movies to stream right now.

Read more
Somebody finally beat Tetris for the first time ever (but no one has ever won these super hard games)
Long live the king of Tetris, a 13-year-old
Tetris

They said it couldn't be done -- a teenager from Oklahoma has beaten Tetris more than three decades after the iconic game was invented. What's more, he did it in under an hour, which is a fantastic feat for a game that's challenged players for generations (don't worry, there are other records to break, if interested).

To put it in perspective, Tetris was invented in 1985. After some acquisition battles, Nintendo released the game to the American audience in 1988. The victor, Willis Gibson, is 13. That means he was born 23 years after the game was released here. So why has it taken so long to triumph over this colorful and geometric puzzle game?

Read more
From college to the barbershop, here are the 10 best Simpsons episodes of all time, ranked
These early episodes of The Simpsons are all the proof you need that the show deserves its extended run
The Simpsons

Wherever you look in the streaming ear, you're likely to find a great animated series to watch. Some of those series are serious, while others are basically sitcoms with animated characters. That latter category is entirely indebted to The Simpsons, the longest-running scripted series in TV history.

The difference between The Simpsons and many of the other great comedies in TV history (animated or not) is that The Simpsons, at its best, was always pushing its own limits. Although the show has famously had its ups and downs over the years, few shows in TV history can stand up against what The Simpsons was doing when the show was at its best. Generations of viewers grew up with Homer, Marge, and their family, and they grew to love the characters, even if they didn't reliably tune in every week. In its way, the show has become an institution.

Read more