We know what you’re looking forward to this Sunday: a break in the football action so you can get back to watching the annual parade of big-budget Super Bowl commercials, right?
But before a new wave of ads takes over the Internet, we thought we’d step into the time machine and take a look back at our ten favorite Super Bowl commercials from years past. Remember these golden oldies?
"Terry Tate, Office Linebacker" for Reebok (2003)
We can’t remember a laugh-out-loud funnier Super Bowl ad than this offering from Reebok, which had trash-talking linebacker Terry Tate (actor Lester Speight) bring his hard-nosed style to the corporate environment. Sure, the joke was kind of one-note, with Terry repeatedly smashing into co-workers to remind them about office protocol. (“Break was over fifteen minutes ago, Mitch!”) But it never stopped being hilarious.
Cindy Crawford for Pepsi (1992)
How many boys came of age when this commercial first aired? We may never know an exact number, but the sight of supermodel Cindy Crawford downing a Pepsi remains a fond memory in many a male mind. To the classic strains of Doris Troy’s “Just One Look,” Crawford drives up to a dusty gas station in a cherry-red sports car (and very high-waisted jean shorts) and hits a vending machine to satisfy her thirst while two young boys look on, jaws agape. Heck, our jaws are still agape, twenty-plus years later.
"Wassup" for Budweiser (2000)
Sure, it’s totally played out by now — but back at the turn of the century, Budweiser’s “Wassup” ad campaign was as unavoidable as pop culture gets. The initial ad was simple enough: a group of dudes calling each other up and greeting each other with ridiculously drawn-out “Wassssssuppppp”s. But the idea caught fire, spawning a series of follow-up ads and changing the way bros greeted each other for years to come.
Betty White for Snickers (2010)
The former Golden Girl has this ad to thank for her recent career resurgence. During a fiercely fought football game, she gets tackled in the mud and throws out a few juvenile insults (“That’s not what your girlfriend says!”) before it’s revealed she’s just a guy who’s “playing like Betty White” because he needs a Snickers. This led to Betty’s SNL hosting gig, and Hot in Cleveland, and her current position as the lady everyone wants to be their grandma.
Mean Joe Greene for Coca-Cola (1980)
This one is etched forever in the memories of TV fans everywhere: Pittsburgh Steelers great “Mean” Joe Greene limping off the field and meeting an adoring fan on his way to the locker room. Greene brushes off the kid’s compliments until the tyke offers him his bottle of ice cold Coke. Rejuvenated by the sugar rush, Greene turns a little less mean and tosses the kid his game-worn jersey. This ad actually debuted before the Super Bowl, but its airing during the big game made it an all-time classic.
"Brotherhood" for Budweiser (2013)
Most of the ads on this list will make you laugh, but this one will have you reaching for the tissue box. In it, a farmer lovingly raises a baby horse into adulthood and sends him off to become a Budweiser Clydesdale, to the strains of Fleetwood Mac's "Landslide." Years later, the man goes to see the Clydesdales in a parade, hoping to reunite with his horse, but walks away disappointed... that is, until his horse gallops over to give him one more nuzzle. Of course we're not crying during a football game; don't be ridiculous.
"The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" for Old Spice (2010)
Fresh-smelling pitchman Isaiah Mustafa made a nice career for himself out of this hilarious ad campaign for Old Spice, in which he informed the nation’s women how their men could be as amazing as he is… by using Old Spice body wash, of course! And oh yeah: He’s on a horse.
Michael J. Fox for Diet Pepsi (1987)
Riding high off the blockbuster success of Back to the Future, the man we knew as Alex P. Keaton lent his star power to this memorable ad, which found him getting a visit from a cute neighbor (Gail O’Grady, who went on to co-star on NYPD Blue) who wants to borrow a Diet Pepsi. Fox’s fridge is empty, so he goes rushing out into the rain (accompanied by totally ‘80s electric guitar and synthesizers) to score some diet soda. One can might not be enough, though…
Ali Landry, the Doritos Girl (1998)
No actor rocketed to stardom faster based on a single Super Bowl ad than Ali Landry, whose turn here as an attractive (and athletic!) girl munching on Doritos at a laundromat earned her the permanent moniker of “the Doritos Girl.” But wait: Is that Will & Grace’s Sean Hayes as one of the dudes leering at her? It is! Guess even Jack McFarland can’t resist the allure of the Doritos Girl.
"1984" for Apple (1984)
Still a distant second behind IBM back then, Apple was ready to launch its Macintosh personal computer in 1984 and wanted to make a splash. And it sure did: This ad (helmed by film director Ridley Scott), which positioned Apple as the rebel upstart in an Orwellian world dominated by PCs, shocked viewers and gave Apple a cool-kid brand cachet that it still enjoys today. More importantly, it also made Super Bowl ads required viewing from that day on.
Super Bowl XLIX airs Sunday, Feb. 1 at 6:30 p.m. on NBC.
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