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

Ad veterans pick the top spots from 53 years of games

• Honda, "A New Truck to Love" (2016)

Honda | A New Truck to Love
Lisa-Bennett Lisa Bennett
Chief Creative Officer, Laughlin Constable

Cute animals? Check. Cool song? Check. Cute animals that aren't puppies or horses singing one of the most classic songs of all time to sell a new product feature? Score. Honda Ridgeline's "New Truck to Love" was a unique take on a winning formula. Sheep + Queen + product benefit. Game over.


• Jeep, "Snow" (1995)

Jeep | Snow
Carren O'Keefe and Jim WoodCarren O'Keefe and Jim Wood
Partners and Executive Creative Directors, AnalogFolk

No beer. No sexism. No dancing animals or even sock puppets. None of the expected Super Bowl clichés. In fact, not a single reference to the product at all. Just 30 simple, memorable and intrepid seconds that demonstrate a beautiful snow-covered ruggedness only one brand can authentically and meaningfully pull off —Jeep.


• Jublia, "Tackle It" (2015)

Jublia | Tackle It
Chris-Landi Chris Landi
Group Creative Director, Merkley+Partners

My favorite's Jublia, the toenail fungus tackler. No one sets out to make a bad ad. And piss-poor as this was, at least the team stepped into the arena. Letting themselves be judged by a nation of nacho-fueled cynics. They're the fat kid at the gym. Don't mock, just nod with respect. 


• Loctite, "Positive Feelings" (2015)

Loctite | Positive Feelings
David-Weinstock David Weinstock
Chief Creative Officer, Decoded

Loctite took the best of internet culture, 100 percent of a client's budget and one single commercial slot to give you the simplest demo in a most memorable way. The casting is amazing. The wardrobe is perfect. And the down-the-barrel looks are spectacular. Add a catchy jingle and you have awkward perfection.


• Master Lock, Marksman (1974)

Master Lock | Marksman
Teddy-Stoecklein Teddy Stoecklein
Creative Lead, The VIA Agency

I have no idea which Super Bowl it first ran during [Ed. note: It was 1974] but I will go on record as saying it is the greatest product demo ever. No celebrities. No music. No fuss. Just a bullet and a message. If you want to hold on to what you've got, it's gotta be Master Lock.


• Miller High Life, "1-Second Ads" (2009)

Miller High Life | 1-Second Ads
James-Fraser James Fraser
Head of Strategy, Mother New York

For all the blockbusters, I can't help but appreciate the more novel approaches to winning. Whether Esurance for buying the first spot after the Super Bowl and giving away the money it saved, or Miller for being ballsy enough to buy a :01; just enough time to shout "High Life!" at perplexed viewers.

Pete-Valle Pete Valle
Creative Director, Allen & Gerritsen

Snackable content before there was snackable content! They spent a year building the brand spear before deftly fashioning on this, the tip. I am smack dab in the middle of target audience, so the next second found me going out the door to get some High Life!

Todd-Condie Todd Condie
Creative Director, Terri & Sandy

Ten years ago, Miller High Life subverted the very idea of a Super Bowl ad (and ran an end-around on Anheuser-Busch's exclusive rights to beer advertising) by running 1-second ads on local stations during the big game. The brilliant ploy garnered loads of press, drove big sales, and had me shouting, "High Life!"


• Monster.com, "When I Grow Up" (1999)

Monster.com | When I Grow Up
Ben-Wolan Ben Wolan
Executive Creative Director, DDB San Francisco

It's 1999 and I'm considering a career in advertising. This Super Bowl ad airs, and makes me think about not getting stuck doing something I don't love. Either this spot motivated me to get to where I am today, or it was a huge warning that I didn't heed. Only time will tell.

Kate-Morrison Kate Morrison
Director of Production, 72andSunny Los Angeles

It's possible I'm a sucker for this as I got my first advertising job through Monster.com, but I think it holds up. It came out as I graduated high school, and I remember watching it not knowing what I wanted to do but appreciating that not settling was a great place to start. 

Krystle-Mullin Krystle Mullin
Creative Director, RPA

I love me an underdog story. Super Bowl III. Monster.com has never advertised on TV before. They buy two 30-second spots during the game (I mean, if you're going to start somewhere…) Résumés flood the site, $3 million in free press, beat out HotJobs.com to become No. 1 in the online employment category. #RudyRudyRudy

Chris-Breen Chris Breen
Chief Creative Officer, Chemistry

This ad tapped into the basic human truth that as kids we dream big, then life beats us down until we settle. It challenged America to take a look and dream again. It put Monster.com on the map and instantly made it a household name. Score one for great advertising.

Chris-Wooster Chris Wooster
Executive Creative Director, T3

The analog to traditional BIG "big game" spots, Monster's "When I Grow Up" came out of nowhere, slingshotting an unknown brand into the dot-com stratosphere. Shot in black and white with non-actors and a classical score, it's a quiet creative miracle and model for a decade's worth of subsequent Super Bowl ads.

Brooke-Lynn HowardBrooke-Lynn Howard
Head of Strategy, Swift

The Monster.com "When I Grow Up" ad from 1999 is one of the oldest I still remember today (20 years ago!). It struck a nerve by pointing out the tension between your aspirations as a kid and your adult reality, forcing viewers to re-evaluate their life and future. 

Steve-Friedman Steve Friedman
Associate Copywriter, Allen & Gerritsen

In a field of gimmicky, attention-hungry Super Bowl commercials, this Monster ad stands out for its simplicity. It asks you to remember that idealism of your childhood dreams and do something about it. And the result is 30 seconds that you'll be thinking about for a long, long time.


• Monster.com "Double Take" (2009)

Monster.com | Double Take
Casey-Rand Casey Rand
Group Creative Director, Droga5 New York

Monster.com's "Double Take" from 2009 is one of my favorite Super Bowl spots. I love that it's a single incredible joke: What's on the other side of a mounted piece of taxidermy? That is a hilarious premise. The perfect execution is the cherry on top. That single, measured take, the lighting, the music—delicious.

David-Kolbusz David Kolbusz
Chief Creative Officer, Droga5 London

Every Super Bowl Sunday, the ad world blows its chance to show the human world how thoughtful and talented we are by trotting out lowest common denominator garbage. Rather than throwing the kitchen sink at it, this Monster.com ad told one clever joke well. Its genius has stayed with me 10 years on.

Craig AllenCraig Allen
Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Callen

Why: In a sea of singing cats and celebrities riding dancing donkeys, this one is beautifully shot, dead simple, and super smart. It's proof that you can win the Super Bowl with great ideas and execution. I remember seeing it and saying to myself, "Well crap." I was jealous. Still am. 


• MTN Dew, "PuppyMonkeyBaby" (2016)

MTN Dew | Puppymonkeybaby
Kirsten RutherfordKirsten Rutherford
Creative Director, TBWA\Chiat\Day LA

PuppyMonkeyBaby. Call me juvenile ... tasteless. Saw it in the midst of my own Super Bowl prep—hadn't slept for four days. Their audience? Teenage boys jacked on caffeinated corn syrup. Their fan? A middle-aged zombie female copywriter. Hysterical laughter. Tears. I even started using it in text. ??? I'm so ashamed.


• Newcastle, "If We Made It" (2014)

Newcastle | If We Made It | Anna Kendrick
Newcastle | If We Made It | Case Study
Leslie-Sims Leslie Sims
U.S. Chief Creative Officer, Ogilvy

Brave, brilliant, subversive and just goddamn hilarious. Perfect amount of edge with the perfect spokesperson. 

 

Ryan-Delafosse Ryan Delafosse
VP of Creative Strategy, Praytell

Newcastle taught us several lessons in 2014. Big, exciting creative ideas don't have to fit into traditional media boxes. Create your own party, and conversation, when you don't have the budget to get into the big one. And self-awareness isn't a bad trait if handled with humor and grace. 

Cat-Hyland Cat Hyland
Executive Creative Director, Swift

Newcastle was one of the first brands to prove that you don't need millions to own the Super Bowl. Their smart, hilarious "If We Made It" leveraged media dollars in all the peripheral channels surrounding the game to break through to viewers, and gave rise to what we now know as self-aware advertising.


• NFL, "Crazy" (2003)

NFL | Crazy
Taras WaynerTaras Wayner
Chief Creative Officer, Saatchi & Saatchi New York

My favorite Super Bowl experience was a spot I worked on for the NFL featuring Don Cheadle explaining how football has changed how we think about the word "crazy." Shot Friday at the Super Bowl, edited Saturday, aired Sunday. Many fans said it was the best articulation of why they love the game. 


• NFL Network, "Leon Sandcastle" (2013)

NFL Network | Leon Sandcastle
Rony CastorRony Castor
Associate Creative Director, Goodby Silverstein & Partners

For some reason, the first thing that popped into my head was Leon Sandcastle. Every time I watch that spot, I laugh out loud. Deion's acting is on point. His afro and mustache look amazing. It was completely absurd, but I actually remember they were selling the NFL draft. The casting was perfect.


• Nike, "Hare Jordan" (1992)

Nike | Hare Jordan
Joe-Staples Joe Staples
Partner and Executive Creative Director, Mother Los Angles

26 years ago, Nike made "Hare Jordan." A basketball ad in a football game. The most serious player, with an animated bunny. There are so many reasons it shouldn't have been made. I'm glad it was. Everyone loved it. Three years later, Disney grossed $230 million from Space Jam. That's a big, brave idea. 

Driscoll-Reid Driscoll Reid
Executive Creative Director, Sid Lee

Hare Jordan! I mean come on, Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny? Two of my idols together at last. It was one of the first commercials that made me think, "Who made this? That's what I want to do." Not to mention spawning a $6 billion franchise. It was classic Wieden+Kennedy + Riswold + Pytka magic.


• Old Milwaukee, "Field Cut Off" (2012)

Old Milwaukee | Field Cut Off
Tim NuddTim Nudd
Editor in Chief, Clio

This spot aired in just one tiny TV market—North Platte, Nebraska—continuing Old Milwaukee's fun strategy from 2011 of running hyperlocal ads that got tons of press anyway. The 30-second buildup is punctured hilariously in the spot's final seconds—a great bit of anti-marketing from Will Ferrell and director Jake Szymanski. 


• Pepsi, "Cindy Crawford" (1992)

Pepsi | Cindy Crawford
Matt-Hofherr Matt Hofherr
Co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer North America, M/H VCCP

Cindy Crawford, in cut-offs, drinking a Pepsi, over catchy music, on a hot day, as two boys watch on. The drink shot is as refreshing as Mean Joe Green's Coke spot. We think the boys are ogling Cindy, until one of the boys says "Is that a great new Pepsi can or what?" 


• RAM, "Farmer" (2013)

RAM | "Farmer"
Stan-Richards Stan Richards
Founder and Creative Director, The Richards Group

As much as I want to avoid looking biased, I have to be honest here. My favorite Super Bowl commercial is by The Richards Group: "Farmer," produced for RAM. A quiet reflection on hard work sandwiched between the typical jokes and special effects, you could have heard a pin drop when that aired.

Dan-Lucey Dan Lucey
Executive Creative Director, Joan 

I'm not a farmer, never farmed, don't know any farmers—but after seeing RAM's "Farmer" spot, I think I want to be one. I usually like comedic spots, but this one got me and feels as fresh today as it did when it ran. Jealous of how powerful yet quiet it is. 

Nancy-Hacohen Nancy Hacohen
Managing Director of Live Action, Tool of North America

Paul Harvey's velvet voice lent power and poetry to RAM's moving Super Bowl spot about the enduring strengths of the American farmer. Watching this in the middle of the Super Bowl made a nation stop, listen and appreciate the triumph of hard work, the pride of honor, and the indomitable American spirit.

William-GelnerWilliam Gelner
Chief Creative Officer, Engine

Instead of celebrities or athletes, we see simple photos of farm life. Instead of a pop song, we hear radio broadcaster Paul Harvey's folksy voice delivering a speech to the Future Farmers of America. Brave, bold and beautiful. It's the anti-Super Bowl ad that broke all the rules. And ruled.

Bobby-Hershfield Bobby Hershfield
Executive Creative Director, the community New York

I don't want to not like it. Paul Harvey's voice. The writing. The photography. The idea. And I don't groan when the truck appears. No desperate attempts to win polls. Just smart and likeable. CareerBuilder's spots came to me as well for different reasons, but I'm going with God.

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards and the founding editor of Muse by Clio.