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The Greatest Super Bowl Ads of All Time: A Journey Through Iconic Moments 

The Super Bowl isn’t just the NFL’s championship game bringing millions of viewers worldwide; it’s a cultural phenomenon renowned for its extravagant and memorable commercials. Here’s a look at some of the best from the Big Game to inspire your next sports marketing strategy.  

Meredith Cunningham Published: January 26, 2024
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As far as advertising is concerned, there’s no bigger event than the Super Bowl. Even with the high price tag (to the tune of $5.5 million for 30 seconds of airtime), it’s an event that brands can’t afford to miss when looking to boost awareness and word-of-mouth buzz.  

Research from the University of Minnesota shows that while there may not be an immediate spike in sales, there *is* an immediate spike in online searches thanks to Super Bowl advertising. Super Bowl advertisers see a +22% bump in total word-of-mouth conversations (online and offline) the week following the game (and +16% total for the month following)  

Kantar also found found Super Bowl Ads delivered an average ROI of $4.6 per dollar spent, with ads seeing an ROI of $100+ per dollar spent.” 

We know your brand may not have millions of dollars to spend on a Super Bowl ad, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create an inspirational ad that resonates with your target audience. That’s why we’re looking at some of the best and brightest Super Bowl ads of all time: to inspire your next great sports marketing campaign. 

1. Coca-Cola’s “Mean Joe Greene” (Super Bowl XIV, 1980)

A heartwarming classic, Coca-Cola’s “Mean Joe Greene” ad features the tough Pittsburgh Steelers player Joe Greene sharing a Coke with a young fan for its “Have a Coke and a Smile” campaign. The commercial became an instant hit and even won a prestigious Clio Award. Then, in 2015, the ad was returned for nostalgia, airing alongside the Nascar Darlington Southern 500 race in South Carolina.  

2. The Farmer’s Dog (Super Bowl LVII, 2023)

The Farmer’s Dog stirs emotions as we follow a chocolate lab named Bear growing up alongside his owner, Ava, from her childhood to having a child of her own. The instant classic outperformed the USA Today Ad Meter competitors by leveraging emotional appeal rather than celebrity endorsements. Research supports the idea that consumers are more responsive to brands employing poignant storytelling over flashy cameos, as brands relying solely on product attributes lack emotional connections, hindering consumer preference and action. 


3. Google’s Loretta (Super Bowl LIV, 2020)

Google’s tear-jerking Loretta ad was a way for Google to tell the massive Super Bowl audience that its products help people with their daily lives, even with the little things – such as remembering small details about a loved one – in this case, an elderly man remembering his late wife, Loretta.  

 The ad worked. It was dubbed “The Most Effective Ad of Super Bowl LIV.” On YouTube, the video racked up 10.4 million views by the end of the evening. As of September 2020, views were up to 62 million. On top of that, 49% of Super Bowl viewers reacted emotionally to the ad and came away with a favorable view of the brand. 


4. Coinbase’s Floating QR Code (Super Bowl LVI, 2022)

It’s not a flashy, loud, fast, and celebrity-riddled in-your-face ad. Instead, its simplicity – visuals of a lone QR code floating across the screen like a DVD screen saver – is what caused Coinbase’s app to crash following their Super Bowl ad. The QR code took viewers to the cryptocurrency company’s website, which featured a limited-time offer. TechCrunch reports that following the ad airing, app installs jumped 309% week-over-week and 286% the following day.  



5. Volkswagon Uses The Force (Super Bowl XLV, 2011)

With this ad, Volkwagon faced an interesting creative challenge. They had two thirty-second spots for the big game and felt the full one-minute version of “The Force” was their best execution. Controversial at the time, the ad was uploaded to YouTube before it aired during the game, and, according to Time, it amassed 17 million views before kickoff. At the time, the second-most shared TV commercial still holds the record for the most viewed Super Bowl ad ever. 

Volkswagon’s success was a game-changer, as now it’s common for companies and their agencies to release their ads early to gain traction and draw out the length – and hopefully buzz – of the campaigns they are investing so much money in.  


Score a Touchdown with Team TEGNA 

The Super Bowl and its consistently massive audiences, underline the power and opportunities that sports marketing and live events create The Super Bowl and its consistently massive audiences underline the power and opportunities that sports marketing and live events create for advertisers.  

Align your brand with a trusted local source with national know-how, and connect with the right audience at the right time. Let’s get in touch. 

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