This Sunday, Feb. 11, the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs are set to play at Super Bowl LVIII. While most people tune into the widely popular sports event for the obvious reason, others, like myself, can’t wait for the real entertainment: iconic advertisements. Companies spend billions to secure their ad spot during the most-watched television event of the year, so it’s time we give their marketing teams a little recognition. From hilarious to heartfelt, here are some of the best Super Bowl commercials of all time.
General Motors x Netflix x Will Ferrel (2023): This ad encompasses everything a good ad should: a likable celebrity cameo, pop culture references, and subtle product placement. Throughout the commercial, Will Ferrel travels through the worlds of different Netflix shows from “Bridgerton” to “Stranger Things.” The intense environment of some of the shots, like when Ferrel is playing red light, green light with the cast of “Squid Games,” is juxtaposed with comical dialogue and light music. As for its actual purpose, the ad perfectly conveys both companies by placing GM vehicles inside of the Netflix-original worlds that Ferrel explores.
Coca-Cola x Marvel (2016): This ad may not be everyone’s favorite, but coming from a diehard Marvel fan, it had to make my list. As another combined ad, both Coca-Cola and Marvel played on each other’s strengths. Coke was genius for choosing to highlight their mini cans, as the ad included Marvel’s smallest superhero, Antman, and one of the largest, Hulk. It’s funny, lighthearted, and gets the job done. On Marvel’s end, it was important to keep the Avengers on the public’s radar as only three months later, “Captain America: Civil War” was set to hit theaters. I mean, what’s better than having an iced cold Coca-Cola at the movies?
Tubi Interface Interruption (2023): This ad went viral last year because of the level of pure confusion it caused so many people. What I love most about this ad is the fact that it warranted a reaction, and in turn, caused interaction between the people who were watching. I guarantee that sports lovers everywhere were accidentally yelling at their younger sibling, parent, or significant other because they thought they actually changed their TV channel. The pure joy and laughter this ad caused across America is why it makes my list.
Coinbase x QR Code (2022): This commercial really isn’t anything special, but that’s why it had to make this list. Coinbase paid millions of dollars to have a QR code bounce around viewer’s screens for a minute straight, and yet I recall this ad being the most fun part of the 2022 Super Bowl. I remember sitting with friends, watching this ad, trying to guess which color the code would turn next or if it would ever perfectly hit the corner of our TV screen. This is another example of an ad that causes interaction between viewers, rather than everyone having an individual, internal experience when seeing it.
Budweiser x Lost Puppy (2015): Upon doing research into the best Super Bowl commercials, this ad continued to pop up in my recommendations. Though it is slightly cheesy, who can resist watching an adorable puppy find his way back home? I’d be lying if I said this ad wasn’t a tear-jerker; the music on its own could probably make anyone cry. If you love puppies, horses, or at the very least, have a heart, this ad will have you feeling too many emotions.
Walmart Mobile Pickup (2019): I bet you never thought you would see the Ghostbusters, Transformers, Scooby Doo, Cinderella, and Jurassic Park Dinosaurs all in the place, but in this ad, they all congregate at Walmart’s mobile pickup parking spots. With upbeat music and cameos of everyone’s favorite characters, this ad makes me want to order my groceries online because of how fun the mobile pickup station looks. It’s entertaining and brought a smile to my face, which is all an ad really needs in order to be a success.
Toyota x Jessica Long x Team USA (2021): Jessica Long is a 13-time Paralympic gold medalist; this ad brings viewers through her triumphant journey towards gold by depicting Long in various snippets of her life. It leaves viewers with a moving thought: “We believe there is hope and strength in all of us.” My favorite part of this ad is that, though it’s sponsored by Toyota, there is not one car in sight throughout the entirety of the commercial.
Celebrating 100 Years of Disney (2023): Another biased one, but if you love Disney, you will love this ad. It combines iconic scenes from some of Disney’s best productions with real fan videos. With this epic backdrop, inspirational audio is layered on top of “Pinocchio’s” “When You Wish Upon a Star” to bring all the aspects of a classic Disney ad together. The commercial ends with the words, “You made this dream come true,” paying homage to Walt Disney while simultaneously thanking the public for the support the Disney Company has received for the past century.
Coca-Cola x America the Beautiful (2014): Not only is this ad patriotic, but is full of representation and beautifully encompasses different aspects of American life. So many different groups of individuals are featured in the ad, but regardless of these differences, it conveys a sense of unity, togetherness, and love among all those who live in America. It’s heartwarming and gives viewers like me the hope that we can one day truly achieve an America that is as loving, beautiful, and peaceful as the one depicted in this ad.
With the 2024 Superbowl on its way, we can only hope to have ads that could possibly make this list next year!