THE FIVE most successful Super Bowl ads of all time

Televised sporting events and entertainment awards shows are the last big forum for spectacle-type advertising. Advertisers are given permission—and are actually expected, to go over the top, and deliver ads that you want to see from start-to-finish, and will be talking about during, and after the game.


Super Bowl ads in particular have become must-see-TV across America, with many households tuning in simply to catch the great advertising on display. I remember the first time I attended a game party when the crowd was “shhh’ed” during every commercial break. It was awesome.

THE FIVE Characteristics of a Great Super Bowl Ad:

The formula for a great Super Bowl ad is simple, but only a few have delivered a flawless delivery over the years. Great Super Bowl ads must be a combination of 1). Hollywood spectacle: lights, camera, action), 2) Filled with surprise and delight: be able to tell a story with some unexpected plot twists, 3). Viral: encourage viewers to spread the word, 4). Memorable: making it easy to have viewers recall the brand, and 5). Extendable: easily translated to a long-running campaign.

THE TOP FIVE Five Super Bowl Ads of All Time:

Betty White Snickers (2010)

“You’re playing like Betty White out there.” This ad was the ultimate “surprise and delight” ad of the 2010 Superbowl. The image of octogenarian Betty White being roughed up in a muddy game of football brilliantly connected football fans to the spot, and connected the message of how Snicker’s satisfies. And of course, the surprise twist at the end is what made it memorable.


Apple 1984

One of the best examples of “spectacle” in recent memory. The ad looked like a big budget Hollywood picture, and left you guessing until the very end who was advertising.


Pepsi, Cindy Crawford (1992)

Well yes, sex does sell. In 1985 Cindy Crawford was the ultimate sex symbol, and Pepsi expertly used her as a silent, but effective spokesperson for the brand. Combine the testosterone and alcohol already swirling throughout viewers bodies even before this commercial aired, and you have a magical moment.


Go Daddy (2005)

Another ad campaign that used sex to sell, also proved that “controversy sells” as well. The Go Daddy ad of 2005 gained attention with its shock value, and raised a little-known brand (at the time) to super star status.


VW Darth Vader (2011)

Volkswagen’s spot featuring a boy dressed as Darth Vader integrated the product in the action, and was unique in that it was released before the game. The viral nature of this spot is unsurpassed, with over 50 million views on YouTube. This year, VW has an entire Star Wars theme, making last year’s spot truly extendable.


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The Featured Five