It’s tough to whittle some of the world’s greatest advertising down to 10 commercials. 2012 by itself gave us at least 10 great ads that could hold up on its own, but the fact remains — when it comes to prime time TV commercials, the Super Bowl is the ultimate arena to show your best work. According to Cami Hadley from Cable.tv, a 30-second spot during this year’s NFL championship will cost $4 million dollars, making them the most expensive commercials of all time. Here are 10 legendary commercials over the decades that were worth every penny:
Budweiser Frogs (1995)
Budweiser, known for throwing money at Super Bowl advertising, went the distance in 1995 during Super Bowl XXIX. The best idea advertisers could come up with: Three frogs sitting on a log and croaking the words “buuuud,” wiiiiissee” and “errrrr.” Americans predictably loved this ad, which included lizard and ferret-themed spin offs. They hired Gore Verbinski (who would go on to direct Pirates of the Caribbean) to direct a series of commercials featuring Bud’s new official mascot — the slow-talking frog.
The Showdown (McDonalds)
Michael Jordan and Larry Bird, two of the most recognizable athletes in the world, engage in an shooting contest for a Big Mac. (“Over the second rafter, off the floor, nothing but net.”) The commercial ends with the players throwing a ball off the John Hancock Tower. This goes down as one of the most memorable sports commercials made.
Talking Baby (E*Trade)
It’s a shame how much E*Trade has milked this cow, because the first commercial during the 2008 Super Bowl made this baby one of the most memorable in advertising.
Carrier Pigeons (FedEx)
The international shipping company teaches us that giant birds aren’t to be trusted with your shipping, or anything else really.
Thanks, Mean Joe! (Coca-Cola)
Perhaps one of the most well-known Super Bowl ads of all time is former Pittsburgh Steeler star Mean Joe Greene. So when Coca-Cola showed us the softer side of the defensive tackler in 1979, America got a glimpse of a man they may have never seen crack a smile on the football field. Coke tried to relieve the magic with Troy Polamalu during Super Bowl VIII, but the simple truth is he’s just not that mean.
Cindy Crawford (Pepsi)
This one’s tame by today’s standards, but Pepsi’s racy ad from 1992 put Cindy Crawford on the supermodel map, and likely on the walls of many teenagers bedrooms.
Betty White (Snickers)
Betty White is a comedy queen, and hearing her tell someone, “that’s not what your girlfriend said” is even better. Out of all the Snickers commercials that feature celebrity cameos, this is by far the best. As youthful as White is, you’d think that was really her getting tackled in the mud.
The Force (Volkswagen)
Great Super Bowl commercials can be both funny and adorable. Volkwagen’s ad from 2011 showed us something we all wish we could do as kids (and probably adults), move stuff using the force. With a simple remote starter, this dad made a kid’s dream come true.
Terry Tate: Office Linebacker (Reebok)
If this one’s not the best, it’s certainly the funniest. Another fierce NFL defenseman, we got to see the humorous side of Terry Tate as he beat the living crap out of his slacking co-workers. If this ad didn’t make you buy a pair of Reeboks, it definitely reminded to put cover sheets on your TPS reports.
It’s said to be one of the best commercials of all time, and was certainly unlike anything a computer company had put out there before. An Orwellian scene of lockstep fascism is broken up by a woman in red Dolphin shorts, who hurls a sledgehammer through a theater screen. Then we see this text: “On January 24th, Apple will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like ’1984.’”
Written By: Erica Walsh. Erica comes from a family that is dedicated to playing and watching sports. She was a sports reporter for a local paper until she decided to freelance, and she’s so glad that she did.