With only a few exceptions, we’ve been fortunate to mostly have competitive Super Bowls. There was a time, however, when the best thing about the big game was frequently the commercials.
Over the years, Super Bowl advertising has become a billion-dollar industry. Just because the spots cost more doesn’t mean that the end result is better. It still takes a spark of creativity to deliver something truly memorable.
These 10 Super Bowl commercials have lived on in our memories well past the final scores of many of the games that they aired during.
Honda CR-V: “Matthew Broderick’s Day Off” (2012)
Was it perhaps a victim of being over-publicized before it actually made its Super Bowl debut? Yes, most definitely. Still, it’s impossible not to smile as middle-aged Matthew Broderick slips back into Ferris Bueller mode.
Doritos: “Laundromat” (1998)
Every single guy who’s ever spent any time in a laundromat has tried at one point or another to make a move on another single. These two guys have the right idea — until it turns out that the dream girl is more than they can handle. And, yes, that is a pre-Will & Grace Sean Hayes attempting to put the moves on Ali Landry.
Budweiser: “Football” (1996)
Sure, some people prefer Bud’s comical “Frogs” ad, and it was funny — for a minute. The beer company’s 1996 entry was simple, elegant, and stands the test of time. A group of Clydesdales, readily identifiable with the brand, play football. What more do you need?
Snickers: “Hungry Betty White” (2010)
Betty White is a national treasure. That’s what makes watching her getting tackled into a mud puddle funny no matter how many times you see it. Bonus points for reminding the world about the great Abe Vigoda.
Volkswagen: “The Force” (2011)
The Force is strong with this one. Volkswagen had some fun with a remote starter as a dad fools his son into thinking that he’s tapped into the Dark Side. Maybe it’s not the best parenting idea to encourage your kid’s Darth Vader aspirations, but how can you resist a kid that cute?
Wendy’s: “Where’s the Beef?” (1984)
God love Clara Peller! The ad might have kicked off one of the most annoyingly overused catch phrases in history, but that first commercial with Peller shouting, “Where’s the beef?” deserves its storied place in pop culture history.
Careerbuilder.com: “Monkeys” (2006)
Ah, the mid-’00s, when websites battled for attention in a suddenly crowded Internet marketplace. Careerbuilder.com was battling HotJobs.com and Monster.com for supremacy as the place for job seekers to look for work. The company’s Super Bowl spot featuring a hapless cubicle dweller dealing with a group of simian coworkers both gave the website a boost and made everyone laugh. Score!
Pepsi: “Pepsi vs. Coke” (1995)
It seemed such a sweet concept, Pepsi and Coke delivery drivers bond over life at a small roadside diner. The two each share a sip of the competitor’s product in the interest of goodwill. All is right with the world until the Coke driver refuses to give up the Pepsi. Some prefer the follow-up commercial from the following year, but we’ll take the original.
Apple: “1984” (1984)
Apple’s Super Bowl ad for its Macintosh personal computer is the stuff of legends. Directed by Ridley Scott and aired only once, it instantly made Steve Jobs’ company the hippest kid on the block. The genius of doing an Orwellian commercial just as 1984 dawned cannot be overstated. The fact that it still looks good more than 30 years later is just a bonus.
Coca-Cola: “Hey Kid, Catch!” (1979)
Super Bowl commercials became what we now think of as Super Bowl commercials thanks to a Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive tackle with an awesome nickname. The spot turned “Mean” Joe Greene into a hero outside of the steel city and melted hearts across the nation. Even though it actually debuted during the baseball playoffs a few months earlier, everyone remembers it from when it aired during Super Bowl XIV. Better still, Greene’s Steelers took home their fourth Lombardi Trophy during the game as they defeated the Los Angeles Rams, 31-19.