Your Favorite Super Bowl Ads Ever, in 53 Words or Less

Ad veterans pick the top spots from 53 years of games

• Chrysler, "Born of Fire" (2011)

Chrysler | Born of Fire
Carolyn-Hadlock Carolyn Hadlock
Executive creative director, Young and Laramore

Guts and glory on every level makes "Born of Fire" the second spot in Super Bowl history to take my breath away. Starting with Olivier Francois convincing Enimem to be in it, not releasing it ahead of time, buying a two-minute slot, using local VO, and ending with the line "Imported from Detroit." 

Jim-Garaventi Jim Garaventi
Co-founder and creative director, Mechanica

It's Super Bowl XLV. Chrysler is way down. (You know, after the 2009 government auto bailout and all.) It's Hail Mary—or at least Marshall Mathers—time. What a brilliant comeback. "Imported From Detroit" is "Buy American" with guts, and craft and punch. An anthem to what anthem spots can be.

Marcus-Wesson Marcus Wesson
Executive creative director, Dailey

The best ideas usually make someone nervous. Chrysler's spot featuring Eminem was no exception. Chrysler's then-CEO had reservations but ultimately understood the gritty determination of the city was a perfect match for the artist. It leveraged the economic climate to define not just its role on the roads but in society. Chills.

Mark-Garman Mark Garman
Creative director, Allen & Gerritsen

What does a brand that sells luxury American cars with a word like "imported," or with a spokesman who grew up in a trailer park, know about making a great Super Bowl ad? More than most.

• Chrysler, "It's Halftime in America" (2012)

Chrysler | It's Halftime in America
Jay RussellJay Russell
Chief Creative Officer, GSD&M

That spot hit me like a Kennedy speech. I would have believed it if you had told me he wrote it. It stopped the country in its tracks and gave us hope and pride. Not an easy task. Undeniably, the talent and media placement only doubled the impact.

Lora-Schulson Lora Schulson
Director of Production, 72andSunny New York

An iconic American spot, a great media moment, talking about what was happening in real time, at halftime. Powerfully positioning Detroit and the automobile industry as it rebounded, as a symbol of hope and healing. Great production choices; casting Eastwood as the sage voice of reason and filmed with authenticity. Still resonates today.

Justin-Scrappers-Morrison Justin "Scrappers" Morrison
Creative Worker, North

"It's Halftime in America" is good poetry. Some old man reminding us that, yeah, we might be feeling down, and hopeless, but getting back up and working hard is the spirit of this underdog country his generation prided themselves on. It's earnest, heartfelt, and about moving forward.

Joey BullockJoey Bullock
Partner and Operations Director, Legwork

Political attack ads were in full force by the time Super Bowl XLVI aired in 2012. Using Clint Eastwood as a uniting voice, Chrysler released "It's Halftime In America" as an attempt to rally the country as one. The message was a bold one that received praise from viewers and the industry alike.

• Coca-Cola, "Hilltop" (1972)

Coca-Cola | Hilltop
Vann-Graves Vann Graves
Executive Director, VCU Brandcenter

It came out when much of the world was plagued with political strife, and Coca-Cola took a stand as unifiers. It was a culturally groundbreaking ad that served to remind viewers of our commonality as human beings, and it resonates to this day. I've still got the song memorized. 

Christian HughesChristian Hughes
President, Cutwater

A positive message that celebrates the spirit of human generosity. This spot has stood the test of time, and its message is very relevant for the world today. 

• Coca-Cola, "Hey Kid, Catch!" (1980)

Coca-Cola | Hey Kid, Catch!
Mike-Densmore Mike Densmore
President, Forsman & Bodenfors New York

Starring "Mean" Joe Greene of the Pittsburgh Steelers, "Hey Kid, Catch!" will always have a special place in my heart. It's a classic and timeless example of great storytelling that tugs at the heartstrings and leaves a lasting impression. It's the defining reason why I pursued a career in advertising. 

Skip TramontanaSkip Tramontana
Creative Director, Innocean USA

I keep circling back to the Coca-Cola spot with Mean Joe Greene. It's hard to appreciate through a modern lens, but at the time, with a weary Mean Joe symbolic of nation reeling from a recession and the Iran hostage crisis, it was a multi-layered "smile" the country desperately needed.

• Coca-Cola, "It's Beautiful" (2014)

Coca-Cola | It's Beautiful
Matt-Augustin Matt Augustin
Senior Social Strategist, 72andSunny Los Angeles

It pulled at my heartstrings by taking an American classic and not changing the lyrics, but rather the way it was sung. As the son of immigrants, I immediately thought of all of the varying cultures that make American culture what it is.

Tianna-Howard Tianna Howard
Account Manager, Optimist Inc.

I'm usually at a Super Bowl party for the big game. The TV is muted during the commercials, and music is blaring as we squeeze by for beer. But in 2014, I distinctly remember leaving the couch teary-eyed after watching this. It was timely, impactful and controversial. Humor is great, but love always wins.

• Doritos, "House Rules" (2010)

Doritos | House Rules
Brianna-Rodarte Brianna Rodarte
Copywriter, Orcí

Cradle to grave, figuratively and quite literally. Through humor and exaggeration, Doritos caught attention on Super Bowl Sunday with an ad starring the true man of the house. Nothing is more important in life than your momma, and a man's bag of Doritos. *SLAP*

• Doritos Blaze + MTN Dew Ice, "A Song of Fire and Ice" (2018)

Doritos Blaze vs MTN Dew Ice
Kimber-Bowman Kimber Bowman
Senior Connections Strategist, 72andSunny Los Angeles

This ad slays for its layers and layer of cultural relevance. Layer 1: Tapped the lip sync battle phenomenon. Layer 2: Featured two of today's most recognizable actors. Layer 3: Performances of two of raps most iconic songs with cameos from the original artists. Layer 4: The world weighed in on who won.

Brett-Fisher Brett Fisher
Executive Producer, Johannes Leonardo

I love music. So last year when PepsiCo rolled the dice on a lip-sync battle between Morgan Freeman and Peter Dinklage, they had me. Directed by Nabil, the spot delivered laughs for a hungry audience. The idea was big and it won for not just one brand, but for Doritos and Mountain Dew. 

• EDS, "Cat Herders" (2000)

EDS | Cat Herders
Mark-Mulhern Mark Mulhern
CEO, We Are Unlimited

You may question the media wisdom of a deep B2B message in the Super Bowl, but you can't question the impact, scale and craft of this Y2K classic. Studded with a series of "nice little touches," it's a feast for the eyes, ears and heart.

Niki-Dobratz Niki Dobratz
Chief Marketing Officer, Fallon

This spot aired six months after I started at Fallon and really just solidified that I worked at the most creative agency on the planet. A company that managed electronic data won the Super Bowl. Bill Clinton said it was his favorite, too. 

Paul-Caiozzo Paul Caiozzo
Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Interesting Development

One of two deeply personal picks. I first saw "Cats" while working in tech, a place where cliché phrases like "low-hanging fruit," "open the kimono" and "herding cats" really thrived. When this commercial first came on, I remember immediately thinking that it was someone's job to make that. I wanted that job. 

Seth-Gaffney Seth Gaffney
Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Preacher

I moved to Minnesota because of "Cat Herders." Fallon managed to take a company called "Electronic Data Systems" and make the masses care. They leaned right into the complexity, creating something simple and perfectly entertaining for the stage without dumbing it down. Imagine the pride people who worked at EDS must have felt.

• EF Hutton, "Joggers" (1979)

EF Hutton | Joggers
Rob-Baiocco Rob Baiocco
Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer, The BAM Connection

Back to '79: EF Hutton. Three reasons. 1) Not just a great piece of film, but a great commercial that actually sells the brand. 2) Part of a long-term, branded campaign, not a Super Bowl one-off. 3) Not trying too hard. Not celebrity-laden, preachy, ridiculously hyped. Just clever, well executed, simplicity. Timeless idea.

• Esurance, "Esurance Save 30" (2014)

Esurance | Esurance Save 30
Desmond-LaVelleDesmond LaVelle
Executive Creative Director, Peter Mayer

Internet-born Esurance is a true champion of the consumer's wallet. In 2014, the Twitter-exclusive "Pass It On" sweepstakes gave away over $1 million to a fan, and everyone learned you could save 30 percent with Esurance. With 1.5 billion impressions, #EsuranceSave30 was the top tweeted brand during Super Bowl XLVIII, surpassing big spenders like Doritos. 

• E*Trade, "Monkey" (2000)

E*Trade | Monkey
Tim NuddTim Nudd
Editor in Chief, Clio

[Note: We didn't let anyone choose "Monkey" for this list, as it's been written about endlessly, along with "1984." But here's another blurb about it anyway.] Some of the best Super Bowl ads are tailored to the game, and couldn't run anywhere else. "Monkey" is the perfect example—a joyous, irresistibly idiotic scene that had viewers flummoxed, before delivering the ultimate crowd-pleaser payoff line. Inspired lunacy of the highest order—one of the great SB ads of all time.

• FedEx, "We Apologize" (1998)

FedEx | We Apologize
Dan-Kelleher Dan Kelleher
Chief Creative Officer, Deutsch New York

In 1998, FedEx aired a Super Bowl commercial with just color bars on screen as an apology scrolled by. It made everyone sit up and pay attention … and then laugh out loud. It was proof that you don't need a big budget—you just need a big idea. Absolutely, positively my favorite commercial.

Jillian-Dresser Jillian Dresser
Creative Director, Walrus

When every other spot goes big and loud, this one outsmarts by being quiet. It commits to the joke to the end—no gotcha, no logo. Plus they managed to sneak in the word "boob." A true gem for those fully paying attention during the game.

Steve-OConnell Steve O'Connell
Executive Creative Director and Partner, Red Tettemer O'Connell + Partners

It grabs you from the start, has a great twist, and lets the audience finish the ad themselves. It didn't even need a logo. Brilliant. Also, it cost a dime and a nickel to produce. Which makes it all the more impressive and worthy of admiration.

Gavin LesterGavin Lester
Partner and Chief Creative Officer, Zambezi

FedEx's "We Apologize" is a favorite Super Bowl spot of mine because it brilliantly and simply communicates the company's product benefits without actually saying them. Contextually relevant, funny and smart, it speaks to the power of a good idea and how a small production budget isn't a limitation. I bow to its genius!

Brendan-Howard Brendan Howard
Copywriter, Fallon

"We Apologize" proves that truth and simplicity can be more efficacious than expensive fireworks. As ad people, we aim to create work that catches the viewer off-guard, even as they stare straight down the barrel. And this spot delivers.

• FedEx, "Stick" (2006)

FedEx | Stick
John-Matejczyk John Matejczyk
Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer, M/H VCCP

Caveman tries to send a stick with a pterodactyl. Funny. Pterodactyl gets eaten out of the sky by tyrannosaurus. Funny. "You're fired!" says boss caveman. "But FedEx doesn't exist yet!" says caveman. "Not my problem." Funny. Fired caveman walks outside and kicks a small dinosaur. Funny, funny, funny. As it should be.

• Google, "Parisian Love" (2010)

Google | Parisian Love
Sam-Shepherd Sam Shepherd
Executive Creative Director, 360i

Imagine a client saying, "We'd like an ad that costs zero dollars, tells a compelling story, and functions as a 60-second product demo. Oh, and it can't suck." Sounds impossible! But that was Google's "Parisian Love." Radically simple and executed on the year's biggest ad stage. That takes guts.

Spice-Walker Spice Walker
Strategist, Rokkan

Google's "Parisian Love" spot is simple, heart-tugging and smart. Told within the framework of a search window, it highlights how Google plays a role in some of life's greatest moments. It was also made by students from Google's in-house studio, proving that award-winning work can come from any age or experience level. 

Gaelan-Draper Gaelan Draper
Creative Director and Partner, Quirk Creative

The magic of advertising is its ability to invest us in a story in a minute or less. This spot invests us in a fully realized love story and world without ever once shifting away from the Google interface. There's nothing you could add or take away to make it better. Minimalist perfection.

Jeremy-Cesarec Jeremy Cesarec
Strategy Director, Planet Propaganda

As Facebook swept in and distracted with a shiny new object, Google reminded us that our past searches tell a story, too. The emotional pull comes not from what we’ve typed into that little blank box over the years, but how our lives changed thanks to the answers it returned. 

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd was editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio from 2018 to 2023.

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