It goes without saying that the NFL Super Bowl is often the most-watched television program of the year. The game tends to have high Nielsen television ratings -- usually around a 40 rating and 60 share -- which means that on average, 80 million to 90 million people from the United States are tuned into America’s biggest game at any given moment.
Naturally, huge corporations as well as the host TV network take advantage of the mass audience by pulling out all the stops with their highly anticipated commercial ad campaigns. The spots, which range anywhere from 30 seconds to one minute, have become a staple in Super Bowl broadcasts and have pretty much taken on a life of their own.
From 1995’s Budweiser frog ad to 1984’s Apple Macintosh commercial, some of the best commercials of all time can be seen during the Super Bowl. Let’s take a look back at some notable commercials from Super Bowls past.
1.'The Force': Volkswagen Commercial (Super Bowl XLV)
- While YouTube has become a one-stop shop for music videos and commercials ads, one commercial for the Volkswagen Passat, which debuted during Super Bowl 2011, surpassed 10 million hits on the video-sharing network. The ad featuring a child dressed as famous film character Darth Vader has been called the greatest Super Bowl ad of all time.
2. 'Budweiser 9/11 Tribute' (Super Bowl XLVI)
- Super Bowl XLVI between the St. Louis Rams and the New England Patriots was played in February 2002, in the shadow of the Sept. 11 attacks. Budweiser paid tribute to the events of that day with this iconic commercial featuring the company's famous Clydesdales going across the Brooklyn Bridge and kneeling to honor those lost on that day.
3. 'The Showdown': Bird Vs. Jordan McDonald's Ad (Super Bowl XXVII)
- On the heels of their well-documented NBA rivalry, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird showcased their one-on-one competitiveness in a McDonald’s commercial during 1993’s Super Bowl XXVII. While the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Buffalo Bills was another boring blowout, McDonald's scored big with the commercial featuring two of the NBA’s biggest names at the time.
4. Apple Macintosh Commercial (Super Bowl XVIII)
- In anticipation of its Silicon Valley takeover, Apple rolled out a massive production for its 1984 Super Bowl XVIII commercial. The 1:12 ad campaign was directed by Hollywood filmmaker Ridley Scott and was in promotion of the Cupertino, Calif.-based company's Macintosh computer. The product promised a revolution as far as personal computing went.
5. 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' Commercial (Super Bowl XXIX)
- Who could forget the famous Budweiser commercial featuring the three frogs each sounding out a syllable of the brand name. The ad debuted during Super Bowl XXIX between the San Francisco 49ers and the San Diego Chargers. While the game itself was a blowout, Budweiser's frogs became stars in their own right as the ad became a commercial success.
6. Mean Joe Green: Coca-Cola Classic Ad (Super Bowl XIII)
- Widely recognized as one of the most classic Super Bowl commercials of all time, Coca-Cola's ad during Super Bowl XXIV featuring Pittsburgh Steelers legend Mean Joe Greene was one of the first to start the phenomena of the ads overshadowing the game.
My name is Carey Vanderborg and I'm a journalist working in New York City. I love food, travel, craft beer, live music and writing about all of the above.