Top 20 Super Bowl Commercials of the Century So Far

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Top 20 Super Bowl Commercials of the Century So Far

WRITTEN BY: Nick Spake
Who doesn't love a good commercial? For this list, we'll be looking at the most memorable Super Bowl ads released since 2000. Our countdown includes ads by Doritos, Budweiser, M&M's, Reebok, Pepsi, and more!
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Top 20 Super Bowl Commercials of the Century (So Far)



Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 Super Bowl Commercials of the Century (So Far).

For this list, we’ll be looking at the most memorable Super Bowl ads released since 2000. It’s the final countdown… well, until our next countdown comin’ up!

What’s your favorite Super Bowl commercial of the century? Let us know in the comments.


#20: “Groundhog Day”

Jeep (2020)

Just when you thought Bill Murray was out of that time loop, the Jeep Gladiator pulled him back in. Almost three decades after starring in “Groundhog Day,” Murray resurrected Phil Connors for this commercial. Phil’s not the only returning character. Also present are Stephen Tobolowsky as Ned, Brian Doyle-Murray as Buster, and a groundhog as... the groundhog. Phil once again takes off with the groundhog, albeit in a nicer set of wheels this time. The commercial is even more brilliant than you might think, as it aired on February 2, the same date Phil originally got trapped in. Don’t expect a sequel, though, as Murray called this as his first and last commercial. Wait, what about those NBA ads you did in the ‘90s, Bill?



#19: “The Next Big Thing” (2013)

Samsung
Reminiscent of a Judd Apatow comedy, this commercial from Super Bowl XLVII (47) finds Seth Rogen running into Paul Rudd in the Samsung office lobby. The actors are overcome with petty jealousy upon realizing they’re up for the same position and begin to shoot various immature insults at one another. And we love to see it. Finally, a sleazy agent played by Bob Odenkirk arrives and insists they work together. The two pitch half-assed ideas for the next big thing, only to be upstaged by LeBron James via tablet.


#18: “Magic Fridge” (2006)

Bud Light
No Super Bowl party is complete without a fridge stocked with cold ones. But what if you don’t want to share your hoard of Bud Light with your buddies? The main character in this Super Bowl XL (40) commercial thinks of a seemingly foolproof solution by installing a secret revolving wall in his apartment. Unfortunately, he forgot to factor in his next-door neighbors. Definitely one of the funniest and most clever commercials of the past decade, this setup appeals to every dude’s dream of stumbling upon a bountiful supply of free booze. All hail the magic fridge!


#17: “Imported from Detroit” (2011)

Chrysler
This engaging Chrysler commercial from Super Bowl XLV (45) definitely doesn’t shy away from Detroit’s grittier side, but demonstrates that this is a proud city composed primarily of great people and hard workers. Eminem’s Oscar-winning song, “Lose Yourself,” creates a fitting mood, showing that great passion and determination can still come from the hard-done-by corners of the country. It might not appear very glamorous, but the Motor City is the only place with the fortitude to produce a luxury vehicle like the Chrysler 200.

#16: “Pug Attack” (2011)

Doritos
The annual Crash the Super Bowl contest has produced one hilarious fan-made Doritos commercial after another. “Pug Attack,” which aired during Super Bowl XLV (45), is a notable standout, teaching us never to tease a dog with treats. Waving a chip around, a childish man mockingly tries to make his girlfriend’s pet ram into the glass door. Charging forward in slow motion, the dog leaves the audience on the edge of their seats. The commercial offers an uproarious comedic payoff as the pug triumphantly breaks through the door and claims what’s rightfully his.

#15: “It’s a Tide Ad” (2018)

Tide

As great as some Super Bowl commercials are, others can come off as redundant. Tell us if you’ve ever seen any of this imagery during a commercial break: a fancy car driving across a sunset sky, a bunch of buddies hanging out at a bar, someone in a clam surrounded by a heavenly glow... It’s all been done before and this ad knows it. David Harbour managed to pull the rug out from under us, however, revealing that this ambitious commercial is for laundry detergent. Even after the ad ended, Harbour wasn’t done playing with our expectations. The actor continued to pop up throughout Super Bowl LII, stealing the Old Spice Guy’s thunder and stealing Mr. Clean’s look. Who knew Procter & Gamble owned so much?



#14: “The Joy of Pepsi” (2002)

Pepsi
Britney Spears’ music is always bubbly and explosively fun, making her the perfect spokesperson for Pepsi. And this ad, which aired during Super Bowl XXXVI (36), has all the ingredients of a great music video, being infectiously catchy while also expressing something resembling a narrative. Spears’ exceptionally choreographed display captivates everyone from a slacking blue-collar worker to former Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole. Even a few Coca-Cola employees are drawn in. Spears thus demonstrates that the joy of Pepsi is universal, regardless of your class, age, or occupation. As much as the world changes, this cola never will.

#13: “Cast Away” (2003)

FedEx

Although FedEx didn’t pay to be featured in “Cast Away,” the blockbuster helped promote the delivery service in a big way. This ad, which came out a couple of years later, brought things full circle. As the credits rolled on the film, we all asked the same question: what was in the FedEx package Chuck chose not to open? Director Robert Zemeckis supposedly joked at a Q&A that it was a waterproof, solar-powered satellite phone. This commercial had an even funnier punchline. As in the film, a former castaway returns an unopened FedEx package to a stranger. This time, though, he finds out what was inside the box. The woman’s chipper response and the forced smile on the bearded man’s face are beyond priceless.



#12: “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” (2010)

Old Spice

We’re not sure what’s more surprising: that this commercial is over a decade old or that the Old Spice Guy went on to become Mike Hanlon in “It Chapter Two.” Either way, it’s officially reached classic status. Inspiring one of the decade’s most prominent campaigns, the ad that started it all commences with a now-iconic setup: an attractive man in a towel addressing the ladies in the audience. What ensues is a masterstroke of fast-paced direction, slick editing, and witty dialogue, somehow ending on a horse. Isaiah Mustafa’s smooth delivery only made the ad more quotable for generations to come. In addition to being the MVP of Super Bowl XLIV, it also won that year’s Emmy for Outstanding Commercial.



#11: “The Force” (2011)

Volkswagen

“Star Wars” brings out the kid in all of us, and this commercial perfectly captures that sentiment. After a lengthy hiatus from the Super Bowl, Volkswagen returned with two new ads from the Deutsch agency. The standout by far was this viral sensation. We follow a little boy in full Darth Vader attire as he attempts to command the washing machine, the dog, and a doll. The youngling struggles to use the Force until he starts his father’s 2012 Volkswagen Passat. Of course, it turns out that his dad simply used a remote, but the child is none the wiser. Ironically, six-year-old Max Page hadn’t seen “Star Wars” before, but the mini-Darth Vader would later meet the villain’s voice actor, James Earl Jones.



#10: “Parisian Love”

Google (2009-10)

Google has gained a reputation for putting out some of the most emotional Super Bowl ads. We know that sounds strange for a tech giant, but after seeing this ad, you will believe a search engine can make people cry. In November 2009, Google debuted a commercial where an American goes searching for study programs in Paris and ultimately finds love. This was all brilliantly conveyed through a search bar. Although we never see the people involved, the search history makes it feel as if we’ve just experienced a crucial chapter in someone’s life. The ad was so well-received that Google brought it to a wider audience during Super Bowl XLIV. If The Saints’ first Super Bowl victory didn’t make you weep, this ad did.


#9: “Bohemian Rhapsody” (2000)

Mountain Dew

Is it possible for a parody song to be almost as catchy as the original? If this Super Bowl ad is any indication, the answer is yes. For a period in the early 2000s, we couldn’t listen to Queen’s magnum opus without suddenly craving a Mountain Dew. Likewise, we couldn’t drink this soft drink without getting the epic song stuck in our heads. It’s all thanks to this commercial, which captured the operatic nature of “Bohemian Rhapsody” and the energy packed into every can of the Dew. The lyrics are cleverly tweaked to tie in with the Mountain Dew brand and the quartet brings a refreshing sound to the Queen classic. Funnily, for some Millennials and Zoomers, this was probably their introduction to the song.



#8: “Joe Montana Miracle Stain” (2013)

Tide

For many, football isn’t merely a sport. It’s practically a religion. This ad has fun with just how seriously some people take the game and the players they worship. When a San Francisco 49ers fan gets some salsa on his jersey, he finds the image of his idol: quarterback Joe Montana. The “miracle stain,” as he and his friend call it, sparks a media circus. It brings the 49ers fan fame, wealth, and the Montana Spirit . . . that is until his wife throws the jersey in the laundry. That’s what happens when you marry a Baltimore Ravens fan. The ad is especially humorous when you consider that the Ravens beat the 49ers that year. Leave it to Tide to pick the winning team.




#7: “Cat Herders” (2000)

Electronic Data Systems
The idea of cowboys herding cats is every bit as silly as it sounds. What makes this Super Bowl XXXIV (34) commercial so funny is how seriously the concept is taken. The production values are first-rate, the actors play their roles with straight faces, and everybody involved paints cat herding as the noblest of professions. While the premise has little to do with Electronic Data Systems, you can’t help but smile at something so ridiculous and yet so epic. It goes to show that any idea can work in the hands of brilliant minds.

#6: “Just My Shell” (2012)

M&M’s
M&M’s have worked a fair deal of sexual overtones into their Super Bowl commercials. While “I Would Do Anything For Love” is a fine example, perhaps the most blatant innuendo occurs in this Super Bowl XLVI (46) ad. Covered in a milky brown shell, it’s easy to assume that the professional and glasses-wearing Ms. Brown is nude. Even Red mistakes Brown’s shell coating for her birthday suit, prompting him to take it all off. Flexing and wiggling his body to LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It,” Red leaves us all wondering how the M&M anatomy works.



#5: “You’re Not You When You’re Hungry” (2010)

Snickers

This Snickers campaign has inspired a few unforgettable Super Bowl commercials, turning Machete into Marcia Brady and Willem Dafoe into Marilyn Monroe. The original remains the best, however. Because let’s be honest, nobody outdoes Betty White. The legendary actress sticks out like a sore thumb on a football field, getting tackled into the mud. Don’t worry, they used a stunt double. It turns out this isn’t supposed to be the real Betty White, but a guy who hasn’t eaten anything. Upon receiving a Snickers from his girlfriend, he transforms literally and figuratively. The same can’t be said about another guy, who’s playing like Abe Vigoda. Abe could probably use a Snickers too… or at least a Good Burger for old times’ sake.



#4: “Whassup?” (2000)

Budweiser

It was a simpler time when landline phones were still commonplace, computers were bulkier, and everybody had the same philosophical question on their mind: “Whassup?” This inescapable catchphrase started with a short film directed by Charles Stone III called “True.” For anyone who’s ever casually called up a buddy while watching the game and drinking a beer, you must admit that this short rings true... hence the title. Ad agency DDB recognized the short’s potential, leading to a spot on Monday Night Football in December 1999. A couple of months later, another “Whassup” made it to the Super Bowl, this time adding a girlfriend to the mix. “Whassup” would go on to inspire several other Super Bowl commercials and remains firmly rooted in the NFL.




#3: “Clydesdale Respect”

Budweiser (2002)
Where most beer commercials put an emphasis on partying and good times, this Budweiser advertisement from Super Bowl XXXVI (36) somberly salutes the people who lost their lives on September 11th, 2001. Pulling an iconic red wagon, a unit of the legendary and majestic Budweiser Clydesdales makes its way across the snowy countryside from a humble farmhouse, to a small town, to the city of New York. As the horses take a bow before the land, we’re reminded that even minute-long commercials are capable of evoking deep emotions. It’s poignant. It’s patriotic. It’s a pitch perfect tribute.

#2: “Free Doritos”

Doritos (2009)

As part of their Crash the Super Bowl contest, Doritos gave fan-made ads a chance to appear during the Big Game. Brothers Joe and Dave Herber from Indiana won in 2009 for one of the funniest Super Bowl ads ever. At the office, an overexcited worker shows off his crystal ball. Although it appears to be an ordinary snow globe, the worker fulfills his prophecy of free Doritos by chucking the ball through a vending machine. It’s an uproarious moment that comes right out of left field, pretty much literally. The laughs keep coming as his co-worker asks the ball about a potential promotion, receiving an answer below the waist. The commercial topped the 2009 Super Bowl Ad Meter, earning the creators a huge bonus.


Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“Tribute” / Planters (2020)
Mr. Peanuts Has Risen



“The Bud Knight” / Bud Light (2019)
Well, It Did Foreshadow the Final Season of “Game of Thrones”



“Super Bowl Now, Laundry Later” / Tide (2020)
Charlie & Stevie, Together at Last!



“Inside Post’s Brain” / Bud Light Seltzer (2020)
Everybody Loves This Ad, Except Perhaps for Spleen



“Big Game” / Wix (2017)
Why Is Gisele Teaming Up With Shaw After What He Did to Han?



#1: “Terry Tate: Office Linebacker” (2003)

Reebok

Shortly before directing “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story,” Rawson Marshall Thurber gave us “Terry Tate: Office Linebacker.” Dodging a wrench is one thing, but nobody gets away from this human wrecking ball. Stemming from a series of shorts, this commercial offers a compilation of Terry’s most aggressive/inspirational moments. On Terry’s watch, no worker shall take an extended break, no TPS report will go uncovered, and nobody will waste company money on a long-distance call. There may be some broken bones and head trauma, but Terry gets the job done. And for those who don’t really follow football, no, Terry Tate isn’t a real linebacker. You might recognize actor Lester Speight from the “Gears of War” games, however.
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