Our Team’s Picks: Classic Super Bowl Spots That Definitely Didn’t Fumble

Since being founded in 1920, the National Football League (NFL) has turned American football into a multi-billion-dollar business with 32 franchises. More than 100 years later, the league is now the biggest pop-culture and sporting phenomenon in the United States.

With Super Bowl 56 quickly approaching, football fans will be stocking up on game day snacks, gearing up for the game and halftime show, and eagerly waiting for another fan favorite – the commercials.

Buying a Super Bowl commercial is one of the most elite media moves for major corporations costing a hefty $6.5 million to secure a 30-second spot. In early September of 2021, NBCUniversal announced fewer than five advertising spots remained — making paid and earned media opportunities as competitive as the game itself.

In public relations, knowing your audience, how to represent your brand, and how to execute a successful campaign are essential to your clients’ success. So, while the teams get ready for this season’s biggest game, a few of our team members at BAERING compiled a list of our top Super Bowl commercials from years past.

Check them out below to find out what made them stand out.

Michelle “The VP” Fowler’s Picks –

1991:  Pepsi – “New Can: Cindy Crawford”

One of the most iconic and successful Super Bowl ads is Pepsi’s 1992 commercial starring Cindy Crawford. It quickly became rooted in pop culture. The ad debuts Pepsi’s new logo and leads you to believe that it’s Crawford who’s being admired in this commercial … but, in fact, it’s the new soda can’s modern design. What an iconic way to debut a new logo.

1999: Budweiser – “Wassup?”

In 1999, the Budweiser “Whassup” commercial was so iconic it added that greeting to our everyday language when talking with friends. That ad increased traffic to Budweiser’s website to 1.265 million visitors per month, and in 1999, that was a major success. More than two decades later, “Whassup” is still being used and is synonymous with the Budweiser brand.

Rick “Mr. Business” Riccobono’s Picks –

2002: Budweiser – 9/11 Ad

This poignant Budweiser commercial honors the victims of the 9/11 attacks. The commercial aired only once, during the broadcast of Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002. There are no voice-overs and the company’s logo is absent from the commercial until the very end.

2005: Nationwide – “Life Comes At You Fast”

This 2005 Nationwide ad is self-deprecating comedy at its best. It’s the perfect play on the brand’s “Life comes at you fast” slogan, with a memorable and humble contribution from MC Hammer.

Jim “The Director” Cyphert’s Picks –

2015: Budweiser – “Brewed the Hard Way”

Maybe it’s because, as a craft beer lover, I took a few of the shots Budweiser aimed at the craft beer community personally. But Budweiser stayed true to its longtime position in this 60-second spot. Here, Budweiser promises a straightforward, classic beer – and none of the frills you’ll get at a microbrewery. Budweiser positioned craft beer as a beverage for persnickety snobs who like drinking peach and pumpkin beers. Whether you like Budweiser or not, this classic spot stays true to the brand … and repositions the competition. The strategy is spot on.

1984: Wendy’s – “Where’s the Beef”

It’s hard to beat Wendy’s classic “Where’s the Beef” spot featuring the 4’10” Clara Peller, who became an international celebrity. Wendy’s difference was that its classic burger featured more beef than McDonald’s Big Mac or Burger King’s Whopper. That message came across loud and clear in a manner that was unforgettable. When your one-line differentiator becomes the most popular phrase on the planet, you win the Super Bowl.

Marston “The Timeline” Raue’s Picks –

2021: General Motors – “No Way Norway”

Beloved American comedians and actors gently poke fun at American stereotypes, using the spirit of competition to promote electric vehicles. It tells me a story — gathering friends to influence meaningful change – and ties very well into the GM slogan, “everybody in.” By using the company’s tagline to encourage competition, GM sells its goal to better its business, customers, and the planet.

2015: Always – “Like A Girl”

In this 2015 Super Bowl ad, we see how seemingly casual phrases cut at the power of femininity. This ad brings power to puberty. It does not directly associate itself with the Always brand, but instead ignites confidence in its consumers/customers.

Brianna “The Rookie” Nobles Picks –

2010: Doritos – “Keep Your Hands Off My Mama and Off My Doritos”

To me, some of the most memorable Super Bowl commercials have come from Doritos. The brand usually combines comedic, nostalgic, and culturally relevant elements that excel in tactfully creating paid and earned media opportunities. With diversity being another major consideration in the success of ads/campaigns, the 2010 “Keep your hands off my mama, and off my Doritos” spot ranks in my top choices for Super Bowl commercials of all time. The ad is hilariously relatable, representative, and most importantly on-brand for a snack that has been a childhood favorite for decades.

2015: Dove – “#Real Strength”

As PR enthusiasts, we know the usual tactics used in ads targeting men. But Dove’s 60-second #RealStrength slot strategically revamped this. In the past two decades, Dove’s focus on diversity and inclusion casts a larger net for customers in an age of conscious consumption while also rebranding ideas behind beauty, strength, and self-confidence. Whether or not you use Dove products, the universal message of self-care and defining strength for men makes this 2015 ad a contender for best branding of a product and branding for men.

Here’s hoping Super Bowl 56 advertisers will deliver more classic, memorable, and effective commercials. Like you, we’ll be watching closely. Let us know which spots you like best.