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The best Super Bowl commercials of all time

As we know, there's almost as much anticipation for Super Bowl commercials as the game itself. Over the years, there have been countless memorable ads, for better or worse, and some that we're still talking about.

Here's a look at 15 of the best Super Bowl commercials of all time, in chronological order.

Coca-Cola, "Hey Kid, Catch!" (1979)
This sweet, endearing commercial first aired in October 1979, but was shown often during Super Bowl XIV that season. We saw the soft side of legendary Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman "Mean" Joe Greene.

While this might arguably be the one commercial most associated with the Super Bowl, is it really wise for a football player to down a full-bottled carbonated beverage after a game? Also, how did that kid get that kind of player access in the first place? Regardless, it still captures the spirit of sports and its fandom.

Wendy's, "Where's the beef?" (1984)

When this famous ad aired during Super Bowl XVIII, many, even Wendy's, probably did not think actress Clara Peller's phrase would turn into a pop culture phenomenon. The commercial was a massive hit, Peller became a star, t-shirts with the slogan were made. According to Business Insider, Wendy's revenue increased 31 percent in 1984.

There are iconic commercials, and often catchy slogans that come with it. However, there might not be a phrase uttered more than "Where's the beef?" Strangely, we don't get tired of it.

Apple, "1984" (1984)

Apple's commercial, which only aired once, alerting the computer world that the Macintosh was on its way was strange, but fascinating. Featuring a George Orwell, "1984" kind of society, and a lone free-spirited athlete ready to break the mold, wake up society and usher in a new age of thinking and technology.

The premise and symbolism was creative for the time, which would be expected from a company like Apple. The commercial was replayed by network news broadcasts worldwide, and opened the door for Apple to become the computer/technology giant it is.

Anheuser-Busch, "Bud Bowl" (originated in 1989)

Starting with Bud Bowl I during Super Bowl XXIII, the bottle, and can, battle between Budweiser and Bud Light often became more anticipated than the actual football game itself. In the original, Bud won 27-24, but there were also a couple of alternate endings.

There were eight Bud Bowls in all, with the final one airing during Super Bowl XXXI. As time went on, the ad got a little old, but the original concept was unique for its time.

Pepsi, "The Best Pepsi Ad Ever" (1992)

The "It" girl of the day, celebrity model Cindy Crawford proved to be the perfect star to showcase Pepsi's newly designed cans. In the end, it was that retro, yet stylish, new can that drew the attention of some young boys, and not Crawford. Which made it funny.

In a slight homage to that hit commercial, and others within the Pepsi universe, the company brought Crawford back for another ad in 2018. 

McDonald's, "The Showdown" (1993)

Wendy's might have been throwing shade toward the Golden Arches with its "Where's the beef?" campaign, but McDonald's cemented its place in Super Bowl commercial lore with this classic.

NBA legends Larry Bird and Michael Jordan playing a ridiculous, yet comical and creative, game of HORSE for a Big Mac and fries. How many kids tried to emulate this at their local gyms, but hopefully, not on any city skyscrapers.

Budweiser, "Bud. Weis. Er." (1995)

Another iconic ad from the good folks at Budweiser. Who can forget those three frogs, hanging in a swampy area staring at a Budweiser sign, while each takes turns sounding out a part of the word.

It was subtle and humorous during a day when there are plenty of commercials trying too hard or going way over the top to work. This was simple enough to be a classic.

Monster.com, "Kids" (1999)

Getting children and teenagers to think about their futures - and not in a positive way, has the potential to be a hit. Monster.com struck gold with its ad of youngsters dreaming of having jobs they are going to loathe or be under appreciated.

The commercial elevated the site to a major player in the online job-hunting game. It also made viewers stop and think, which sometimes doesn't happen during the Super Bowl mayhem.

E*Trade, "Wasted" (2000)

Poking fun at the cost of buying some Super Bowl air time is one way of getting viewers on your side. E*Trade did a nice job of using a dancing monkey and a pair of gentlemen clapping along to make that point.

The visual was awkward and did not seem to make sense, until we saw the tagline: "Well, we just wasted 2 million bucks ... What are you doing with your money? Brilliant.

Budweiser, "Clydesdales Respect" (2002)

Budweiser, the Anheuser-Busch family of beers and its commercials are a major part of Americana. That's why it was not surprising to see the company pay tribute in the months after 9/11. 

Shown during Super Bowl XXXVI, the famed Clydesdales make their way over a snow-covered field in the shadow of the Manhattan skyline. They stop, bend their knees and bow their heads in respect to the city. One of the most moving ads in Super Bowl history.

Snickers, "Betty White" (2010)

The famed candy bar ushered in a series of commercials in the "You're not you when you're hungry" realm, starting with a late-80s Betty White the result of a young, adult male who has not satisfied his hunger. Once he gets a taste of that Snickers, he's back to his normal self.

The added appearance from the late, great Abe Vigoda only added to the creativity and hilarity of the spot.

Volkswagen, "The Force (2011)

Word is, Volkswagen had been out of the Super Bowl ad game for about a decade when it rolled out this gem. A little boy, dressed as Star Wars' villain Darth Vader, trying to use the "force" to move anything in sight while the famed Imperial death march plays.

This award-winning commercial was cute, unique and light-hearted enough to be appreciated amid a sea of goofiness that usually dominates Super Bowl Sunday, from a commercial standpoint. Plus, it has a kid in it. Winner. 

Budweiser, "Puppy Love (2014)

Back to the famous Clydesdale, this time with a puppy pal thrown into the mix. Sweet, heartwarming and all about the joys of friendship, no matter how dissimilar.

One thing is for sure, no matter what the subject matter or premise of an ad, one usually can't go wrong with the Budweiser Clydesdales. This follows that trend.

Always, "Like a girl" (2015)

Girl power at its finest. A powerful message that girls can do anything, and the phrase "like a girl" no longer should be deemed derogatory. 

Super Bowl ads like to send a message, and this one follows suit. But, it's a message about confidence throughout a female's lifetime. It's well done, genuine and tasteful. Well worthy of being included on this list.

Tide, "It's a Tide ad" (2018)

David Harbour of Stranger Things fame is the principal character in the most recent Super Bowl ad to stand out. Poking fun at the cliche Super Bowl commercials, Harbour continues to remind viewers "it's a Tide ad" because of so many clean-looking clothes.

Sometimes these "not-so obvious, it's obvious" types of commercials don't work. It can come off as trying too hard, but that's not the case in one of the better Super Bowls spots over the past few years.

Jeff Mezydlo has written about sports and entertainment online and for print for more than 25 years. He grew up in the far south suburbs of Chicago, 20 minutes from the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Ind. He’s also the proud father of 11-year-old Matthew, aka “Bobby Bruin,” mascot of St. Robert Bellarmine School in Chicago. You can follow Jeff at @jeffm401.



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