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10 Super Bowl Commercials We'll Never Forget

From Bud to Betty White, we look back at the big pitches made between all of those big passes.
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What would the Super Bowl be without the commercials? Even people who otherwise ignore football always tune into the big game, where companies try to make an impression with million-dollar ads.

Just ahead of Super Bowl LII, we're looking back at some of the most memorable ads in Super Bowl history. How many of these do you remember?


BudBowl gif

"Bud Bowl I" (Budweiser, 1989)

Bud Bowl was the annual game-within-a-game that began in 1989 and lasted through half of the '90s. Every year, a team of Budweiser bottles battled a team of Bud Light bottles in an absurd match that played out over several commercial breaks. Sometimes, that game was more intense than the actual Super Bowl!

The long-running ad campaign was a surprising hit with kids, who didn't need to be of legal drinking age to appreciate stop-motion beer bottles in adorably tiny football helmets.

SEE ALSO: Here Are All the Ways You Can Watch Super Bowl LII


RadioShack Gif

"Blast From the Past" (RadioShack, 2014)

"The '80s called. They want their store back!"

After a mysterious call to an employee, a RadioShack store is stormed by a legion of '80s icons, with everyone from Hulk Hogan to Teen Wolf to Mary Lou Retton running off with whatever they can grab.

Self-effacing in the best way possible, this was RadioShack promising to get with the times. We don't know if the commercial did much to change the company's fortunes, but it sure got people talking. (Mostly about ALF.)


Mountain Dew Gif

"PuppyMonkeyBaby" (Mountain Dew Kickstart, 2016)

If you were on social media during Super Bowl 50, you've gotta remember the country's collective reaction to PuppyMonkeyBaby, the screwball mascot of Mountain Dew Kickstart. (Twitter feeds were littered with exclamation points!)

PuppyMonkeyBaby was — literally — a puppy, a monkey, and a baby, merged into one happy mutant creature. That that was the product's mascot led many to wonder just what Mountain Dew Kickstart was actually made from.


Volkswagen Gif

"Lil Vader" (Volkswagen, 2011)

A kid in a Darth Vader costume runs around the house, desperately trying to summon the Force. Frustrated by his (or her — they never specify) inability to move objects with his mind, the child makes a Hail Mary pass at his father's Volkswagen... which magically comes alive when he extends his hands toward it!

Okay, maybe it wasn't so magical, but the kid's father — key fob in hand — wasn't about to spoil the moment.

This was a simple idea done incredibly well, and it brought Volkswagen way more attention than any "normal" car commercial would've.

SEE ALSO: 10 Legendary Super Bowl Commercials (and Do These Ads Actually Work?)


Crystal Pepsi Gif

"Right Now" (Crystal Pepsi, 1993)

This was Crystal Pepsi's coming out party. Set to Van Halen's anthemic "Right Now," the first Crystal Pepsi TV spot seemed less like an ad for soda and more like the start of a cultural revolution.

Some people thought the commercial was overbaked and ham-fisted, but it did help make Crystal Pepsi the "in" thing for a minute. The novelty of a "clear cola" was a draw, sure, but we'd also never seen anyone make such a big deal out of soda before.

Everybody had to try Crystal Pepsi once, and it sure wasn't Van Halen's fault if we didn't try it twice!


Tabasco Gif

"Man vs. Mosquito" (Tabasco, 1998)

So here's this dude sitting out on his porch, happily munching on a slice of Tabasco-drenched pizza. (Don't knock it until you've tried it!)

A mosquito threatens his party-for-one, but the guy simply lets the bug bite him, seemingly knowing something we don't. Seconds later, the mosquito explodes — and it's a full-blown Death Star-style explosion — unable to handle our hero's Tabasco-spiked blood.

This was considered one of the best ads of Super Bowl XXXII, but it also regularly appears on lists of the best Super Bowl commercials of all time. It was more proof that you don't always need a gigantic production budget to make a mark during the Super Bowl. Sometimes you just gotta think outside the box!


WWF Gif

"Get It?" (World Wrestling Federation, 1999)

During the late '90s, the WWF (now known as WWE) was as hot as it had ever been. Wrestlers like "Stone Cold" Steve Austin were suddenly household names, and it seemed like Vince McMahon had the Midas touch.

Through one lens, this promo was less about capturing a bigger audience and more about the WWF simply saying they'd made it. After a number of rocky years with falling profits and a shrinking fan base, they were now so popular and profitable that they could afford an image spot during the danged Super Bowl!

SEE ALSO: Here's What It REALLY Costs to Go to the Super Bowl


Snickers Gif

"Betty White: Football Player" (Snickers, 2010)

You know those "You're not you when you're hungry" ads from Snickers? The ones where various celebrities stand in for regular people? This was that campaign's best swing.

Betty White is such a treasure that they could've just had her sit and silently eat a Snickers bar, and audiences still would've flipped. Anything above that was just gravy... and seeing Betty Freakin' White getting tackled into the mud was a wheelbarrow's share of gravy. Of all the commercials featured here, this one inspired the most GIFs.


General Motors Gif

"Sad Robot" (General Motors, 2007)

Super Bowl ads are designed to get people talking. It's an annual competition to outthink, outclass, and outweird everyone else. In the heat of the battle, sometimes companies take things a step too far.

This was definitely one of those cases.

After a minor screwup at a General Motors factory, an assembly line robot is out of a job. In the final moments, the despondent droid jumps off a bridge... before waking up in the GM factory, revealing that it was just a bad dream.

Many viewers took it as a "suicide joke," which it basically was. General Motors pulled the ad from rotation after a few days, and agreed to edit out the bridge scene. It's just another on a still-growing list of Super Bowl commercials that were probably best left in pitch meetings.


Bud Frogs Gif

"Bud. Weis. Er." (Budweiser, 1995)

This marks Budweiser's second appearance on this list; Bud is truly the king of Super Bowl commercials. They don't always hit home runs (or make touchdowns, in more appropriate parlance), but you can always count on them to try something new during the big game.

In this legendary commercial, three frogs break "Budweiser" down into ribbited syllables, and... well, that's really it. It's three frogs saying "Budweiser." That was all it took to start a phenomenon!

This ad is considered one of the all-time Super Bowl greats. If you hang around a 12-pack of Budweiser long enough, you're still sure to hear someone do an impression of those oh-so-imitable frogs.

Readers, what are some of your favorite (and least favorite) Super Bowl commercials? Share your memories in the comments!


Contributing Writer

Matt has been blogging about geeky nonsense since early 2000. You can view more of his weird work on Dinosaur Dracula, or follow him on Twitter @dinosaurdracula.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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6 comments
Tony Balogna
Betty White?, How about Walter White?
RudeVader
"Terry Tate Office Linebacker"

Yep, not seeing it here is quite odd

Crystal pepsie? Sad robot? Forgotten as soon as the bowl was over. Terry Tate was talked about a lot after the bowl was over.
mcdruid
Uh, 1984? Two Clios and TV Guide's Best Commercial of All Time?
rez157
I will never watch NFL again....
ijtalbot
I was so excited when I saw this and knew I could come to the comment sections and blast the author for forgetting about puppymonkeybaby.... but then he included it. You done good, Matt.
spinachetr
Terry Tate Office Linebacker? WTH!? The pain train is coming for you Matt.