Lifestyle, Film & TV

Top 6 Super Bowl ads that will always blow your mind away

Super Bowl 2022 winners: Rams

Television remains a communicator’s dream for advertising, information, and entertainment, as it combines all the elements of sound, sight, drama, and intriguing visual effects. There are probably more routine TV ads than highly creative commercials, but for those that appear in the Super Bowl. Here, creativity is the mother of invention. 

According to a survey, 43 percent of men and 60 percent of women believe the ads are the most important aspect of the Super Bowl. Most of them are not even crazy about seeing 22 men run down a pitch. They only see the game as a big social event and want to be part of the cultural experience.

For this audience, the commercials provide entertainment and common ground with sports fans that won’t expose their lack of knowledge of the National Football League. Also, the men and women in this group expect Super Bowl ads to be funnier and a lot more entertaining than regular commercials considering the high stakes for the stakeholders. 

This explains why the desire for people to watch Super Bowl ads has not waned and those commercials have become part of popular culture even in places like Nigeria where football (soccer) arouses more interest in fans.

So, let’s look at six ads that have remained evergreen and the law each commercial obeys in the book, 22 Irrefutable Laws of Advertising And When to Violate Them by Michael Newman.

1. Coca-Cola

Theme: “Hey kid, catch”

Written by: Penny Hawkey

Created by: McCann-Erickson

Year: 1979

Coca-Cola had a lot going for it in 1979. The year saw the introduction of Mello Yello (a caffeinated, citrus-flavoured soft drink), the movement to its North Avenue Tower headquarters building, and the worldwide sponsorship of the Special Olympics. Above all, the company launched what later became its most iconic Super Bowl ad ever, “Hey kid, catch” featuring ‘Mean’ Joe Greene, defensive tackle of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

But the ad didn’t debut at the Super Bowl. The commercial had been on air since October 1, 1979, but was used on January 20, 1980, for Super Bowl XIV to take advantage of Greene playing in the real-life event that day.

In the ad, a star-struck and timid boy approaches Greene after a hard-fought game just to tell him he thinks he is the “best ever”, which soccer fans refer to as GOAT. The hulking Greene is tired and bloodied and had earlier limped into the locker room of a stadium to lick his wounds.

“You want my Coke?” the boy asks.

The defence ace had other things on his mind, the boy being the least. He shakes his head no.

“You can have it,” the boy says.

Greene changes his mind and drinks the entire content of the bottle. The boy turns away, saying, “See you around”. As the downcast boy goes his way, the refreshed Greene says, “Hey kid, catch!” and throws his jersey to him.

The commercial, which helped Greene ease his reputation as a destructive force in the game and transition to a career as a sports analyst and actor after his retirement, won both a Clio and a Cannes Gold Lion.

Why this ad still matters?

The interesting storytelling in 60 seconds and its power to shape public perception. Charles Edward Greene (his real name at birth) was one of the least likely athletes to enjoy a Coca-Cola and show kindness to a kid.  

The Law of Simplicity

It is much easier to be complex than to be simple. Simplicity is one of the most definite characteristics in advertising and maybe one of the most forgotten. This may be because ‘simple’ has a dual personality: what is simple may have a genius synthesis or simply a primary obviousness.

2. Volkswagen

Theme: The Force

Created by: Deutsch 

Year: 2011

This commercial featuring a young Star Wars fan has been viewed over 61 million times on YouTube and it’s the second most shared Super Bowl ad of all time.

Four days to the Super Bowl, which until then was an exception to the rule, a new Volkswagen ad was uploaded on YouTube. “The Force” features a boy strolling about his parents’ house dressed as Star Wars villain Darth Vader.

He’s seen attempting to use his superpower – the Dark Side – on everything from the family dog to the new Passat sitting in the driveway. He keeps failing in his attempts to use the Force around his home until he turns on his dad’s Volkswagen, not without the help of his father, who turned on the car. This move was a subtle dig at Passat’s new remote-control starter.

The tremendous success of this ad changed how advertisers view Super Bowl Sunday thereafter. For being just standalone spots during the event, most Super Bowl ads have become the pivot for an extended media hype incorporating traditional media and social media launched days before the game.

Essentially, there are three groups of brands competing during the Super Bowl: the ones who release their commercials early, the ones who use teasers as an appetiser for the ad that’s coming, and the ones who keep the ads a surprise to be released during the game. This 2011 ad proves that getting out early is about the best approach.

Why this ad still matters?

The commercial perfectly combines the everlasting popularity of Star Wars, the childhood nostalgia of the viewers, a heartfelt moment between a father and son, a narrative that went from conflict to resolution, and loads of humour especially seeing an innocent 6-year-old inadvertently dressed as a notorious movie villain.

The Law of Emotion

Human beings think with their feelings and emotions. Our instincts reach out and somehow feel what seems good for our soul, or bad. Human decision-making is emotional, spiritual, political and, perhaps least of all, rational. The truth is, we aren’t rational beings. We are more human than that.

3. Always

Theme: Like a girl

Created by: Lauren Greenfield

Year: 2015

Like a Girl, which was launched by Always in 2015, targets negative gender-related stereotypes about females with the main video aired during that year’s Super Bowl. The footage caught viewers’ attention since it was deliberately placed in the middle of male-centred commercials.

The clips show a series of interviews carried out by Lauren Greenfield where she’s seen asking teenagers and adults of both genders to show what it was like to run (throw, fight) like a girl.

Those who took part in showing these actions slightly amusingly depict the weakness of stereotyped, timid girls. The next act shows a group of younger girls who are asked the same question. This time, their actions showed passion, strength, and determination. The video reveals the contrast between the young girls’ idea of doing something “like a girl” and the stereotypes promoted by their society.

The main video was viewed over 90 million times, and its hashtag, LikeAGirl, earned close to 180 thousand tweets within 90 days. 

Why this ad still matters?

‘Unstoppable’, the campaign’s keyword, suggests that the idea of fierce, determined, and strong girls should replace the perception of girls as weak and timid, which is the core message of this ad. Thus, the girls require support, acknowledgement, and empowerment not to lose their passion for expressing themselves.

The Law of Topicality

Everyone involved in an advertising account – the creatives, suits, and clients – should scour every newspaper every morning with a mind to finding some buried ammunition that might be turned into a topical or tactical ad.

4. Snickers

Theme: “You’re not you when you’re hungry.”

Year: 2010

Betty White had an illustrious career, filled with television runs and a cabinet full of Emmy awards because of her talent. The actress, who died on December 31, 2021, at age 99, is best remembered for her legendary Snickers commercial that ran during Super Bowl XLIV.

The audience was captivated by the images of White breaking from the huddle and running a route. However, she was flattened because her backup hadn’t eaten his Snickers for the day. 

Over 12 million viewers saw White’s episode on May 8, 2010, with musical guest Jay-Z with NBC also broadcasting it in 2022 after White’s demise a week earlier.

Why this ad still matters?

It remains a reference in the industry and beyond how this ad kicked off a campaign that shot the brand from seventh place into category leadership. Individuals can learn one or two things about one of the greatest celebrity endorsements in Super Bowl history.

The Law of Humour

Logic can make you think a product is a sensible choice. But only humour can make you like it. Because only humour requires the actual participation of the viewer, so they are more likely to remember it. And because fish swim, snakes bite, pandas eat bamboo, they all have sex… but only humans laugh. Laughter is the common currency that humans use to make life seem better. Advertising is trying to persuade people that their products make life better. So, the alliance of the two is a match made in heaven.

5. Budweiser

Theme: Whassup

Year: 2000

Four male friends (another joined towards the end) speak over the phone. They exchange greetings with the slang “Whassup?!”. The response – “Watching the game, having a Bud – is followed with “True, true”. Then the conversation escalates into a chorus “Whassup?!” 

In December 1999, the ad made its debut on Monday Night Football and in 2000 during Super Bowl XXXIV. It won the prestigious Cannes Grand Prix and entered the collection of awe-inspiring American ads, becoming one of the most illustrious Super Bowl ads ever made.

Why this ad still matters?

I tried it and found out it’s physically pleasing to shout the catchphrase Whassssuuuup! It provides psychological relief through this open expression of powerful emotions.

You can try it!

The Law of Fascination

We live in a world full of extraordinary things. To stand out as a mere advertising idea, you must be outstanding.

6. Apple

Theme: 1984

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Year: 1984

Thirty-eight years ago, Apple aired an ad that turned the advertising world on its head. The commercial was based on George Orwell’s novel ‘1984’.

Deploying simple themes of control against freedom and stagnation locking horns with innovation, this one-minute ad could ignite viral curiosity a few days after the release of its first Macintosh computer. This commercial set a ground-breaking tone that still holds.

The opening scene of the ad zooms into a line of people dressed in dark grey uniforms and heads shorn of hair. They are marching into an auditorium. A talking head on a big screen, reminiscent of Orwell’s character “Big Brother”, who rants disinformation about being “one people with one will, one resolve, one course” and other hollowness and nonsense. 

There’re cuts back and forth between this scene and another where a woman in bright orange shorts and a white top holds a sledgehammer and sprints toward the auditorium. She winds up and launches her sledge as she gets close to the screen. The impact creates an explosion.

Then, Apple cuts to the slogan: “On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like ‘1984’”

The ad launched Apple as a computing giant, with the Mac becoming one of the best-selling gadgets of its era. 

Why this ad still matters?

The message that Macintosh would change the world of computing and that the future of technology would bring freedom instead of control still resonates. 

The Law of Disruption

Disruption is not just a way to come up with advertising ideas. It is a way to think. Disruption is about systematically breaking through the barriers that shape and limit standard business approaches. It’s about challenging conventional wisdom and imagining new possibilities. It’s about overturning the assumptions and biases that get in the way of fresh and visionary ideas.


All the ads showed their intricate messages using diverse persuasion techniques aligned with active promotion, which led to increased visibility. And with visibility comes growth in the consumers’ intent to purchase the products. This leads to more robust brand recognition and a higher company reputation while not forgetting profitability. Can advertising and the Nigerian University Games Association (NUGA) work together to achieve this? 


Halftime show of the Super Bowl 

Halftime shows are a tradition during the games at all levels of competition. Entertainment during the Super Bowl portrays an underlying link to pop culture. This has helped widen the audience base and sustain worldwide interest in the event.

Before 1991, the halftime show featured university marching bands, drill teams, etc. Afterwards, it featured pop music acts like Michael Jackson, Beyoncé and Jay Z, and other A-listed entertainers.

Who won the Super Bowl the most?

New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers have won the most Super Bowls with six championships. The Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers have five wins. With 11 appearances, the New England Patriots have the most Super Bowl final. While the Buffalo Bills lost the four consecutive finals (between 1990 and 1993), they have played.

The record for consecutive wins is shared between the Green Bay Packers (1966–1967), the Miami Dolphins (1972–1973), the Pittsburgh Steelers (twice, 1974–1975 and 1978–1979), the San Francisco 49ers (1988–1989), the Dallas Cowboys (1992–1993), the Denver Broncos (1997–1998), and the New England Patriots (2003–2004).

The ignoble award for a record five Super Bowl losses goes to the Denver Broncos and Patriots. The Minnesota Vikings and the Bills have lost four.

Who won the last Super Bowl?

On February 13, 2022, the Los Angeles Rams beat Cincinnati Bengals to win Super Bowl 56 at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.

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