Greatest Super Bowl Commercials of All Time: A Brief and Biased Retrospective

the force volkswagen super bowl commercial
While most of us won’t remember which football team scored the most football points and won the big football game, many of us will revisit the top Super Bowl commercials throughout the years.

If you watch the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles square off on Sunday, February 4 for the commercials, as it has become so chic to claim, it would behoove you to recall some of the strangest …

… and greatest ads of all time. Let’s start off with a magical time called the Seventies!

Many people still consider this Coca-Cola commercial starring Mean Joe Greene and a charming youngster to be the best Super Bowl commercial of all time. Today’s audience doesn’t know Mean Joe’s reputation quite so well, but believe it when you hear it — this one struck a chord in 1979:

Flash-forward a scant five years. This commercial, released at a time when personal computers were still almost the stuff of fantasy, helped put Apple on the map in a way that lives up to the company’s current dominance of the tech world. The ad played off the year it was released and was inspired by the eponymous book and film, 1984 by George Orwell:

Now, those commercials are both classics, sure. But they also both feel a bit dated, don’t they? There was something missing from a lot of the early Super Bowl commercials that was hit upon by Pepsi in the early 1990s. It was, in a word, sex. Or rather, sex appeal:

And then look, the clever scamps did it again less than a decade later, turning to another young lady this time, the then-wildly-popular Brittany Spears:

Are either of those ads truly great? No, not really.

But they stuck in the larger American consciousness nonetheless, despite there being nothing clever, original, or all that interesting about them other than sex appeal.

Now for the cute stuff. Let’s start with the absolute classic ad titled “The Force,” or “Star Wars kid” commercial, as it is usually called.

While this ad might seem blasé today, when it was released, it was a true sensation. And it still ranks near the top among critics. Yep, it’s the Budweiser Frogs:

But you know what’s even more popular than frogs these days? Dogs. And puppies, to be specific. If there is one thing that has driven recent ratings, it’s dogs. And it doesn’t really matter what these pooches are “selling,” but usually they’re selling beer:

And we can just all forget about this Budweiser ad and the cultural phenomena it created:

Beyond the charm and the sex appeal, there’s one other trend we have seen more and more advertisers turn to for their recent Super Bowl commercials: absurdist humor. All too often, it’s done terribly and comes off as a craven attempt at wit or comedy. Occasionally, though, it works perfectly. Case in point: Every Doritos Super Bowl ad ever. We’re particularly fond of this one:

However, 2018 is already shaping up as a year for the books. We haven’t even witnessed Super Bowl LII — we hope you have all of your party food and drinks ready — but this hilarious Doritos vs. Mountain Dew ad featuring Peter freakin’ Dinklage and OMG-is-that Morgan Freeman might be the greatest one yet:


An Introductory Guide to Train Travel in the United States

With a little bit of forethought and preparation, you can turn Amtrak into Glamtrak.
Food & Drink

The 10 Most Important Craft Beers in American History

These are the beers that paved the way for whatever you're drinking today. It's time to recognize them and say thank you.
Fashion & Style

OB/VS Founder Kelly Dachtler on Climate-Adaptable Footwear and Changing the Shoe Game

"It's a three-in-one sneaker that converts into the ideal shoe for whatever environment you may find yourself in ... There has never been anything like it."
Food & Drink

The Best Food Shows on Netflix to Binge Right Now

These binge-worthy food series will put that bucket of popcorn to shame.

18 Vinyl Albums Every Man Should Own

Your vinyl selection may vary depending on what kind of man you are, but there are some works of art that deserve to be in everyone's collection.

Cyber Monday Has Ended, But the Best Cyber Week Deals on Men’s Gear Are Here

Cyber Week is here and we've rounded up all the best deals for men.

Cuban Cigars: Everything You Need to Know about the Truth Behind the Legend

Are Cuban cigars worth the hype? Let's discuss.

The Best Manly Quotes of All Time

Man-up with wisdom from Stan Lee, Steve McQueen, and George Costanza.

13 Best NERF Blasters for Adults

You may or may not be using NERF to fight imaginary ninjas anymore, but you can still arm yourself with one of the best blasters primed for adulting.

The Best Documentaries on Netflix Right Now

These docs are entertaining, but also edifying. For your convenience, we’ve broken them up into categories.

Impress the Lady in Your Life With the Best Gifts for Her

We've curated a list so you can stop playing the guessing game when it comes to presents for your wife, girlfriend, mother, and all the other special ladies in your life.

Get Him a Little Something from Our List of the Best Stocking Stuffers for Men

The only requirements for these gifts? They have to fit in a stocking. No price limit. Just the small stuff. And you know what they say about small packages.

10 Fiction Podcasts You Should Totally Get Sucked Into

Sit back, relax, and prepare for intrigue and adventure with the best serialized fiction podcasts.

Know Your Knife: A Guide to the Best Steel for Knives

Does your knife make the cut?