Super Bowl LIII is here. For people who have to Google “What teams are playing this year?” the Super Bowl is all about the commercials. As TV’s most-watched event, it is important for brands to make sure their ad is memorable. Some commercials take a sentimental or serious tone, but most Super Bowl commercials try to stand out with through humor. Sometimes they flop, but other times, Super Bowl ads feel like Saturday Night Live sketches—sketches that really want you to buy Doritos. Laughspin wants to salute the Super Bowl commercials that made its way into the zeitgeist. Wazzup?!
Super Bowl II – Gulf
When most people think of funny Super Bowl commercials, they think of ads from the ’90s or early aughts. Commercials have had to work harder to keep people’s attention nowadays, but they were often very straight forward in the past. That is why this 1968 Gulf ad really stands out. The visuals are more Monty Python than anything else. The pure absurdism of people driving without cars is more than giggle-worthy to kickoff this silly list.
Super Bowl XX – Milk
Milk shouldn’t need commercials. It’s milk. But even before its iconic slogan “Got Milk?” Milk was making memorable Super Bowl commercials. This 1986 ad is a throwback to vaudeville and features clips of some old school comedy names. By incorporating clips from the Three Stooges and Laurel and Hardy, this commercial has a timeless feel and an aura of comedy nostalgia.
Super Bowl XXI and XXIV – Pepsi
Pepsi has made a lot of memorable ads over the years. They even sponsor the Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show. While they have had countless Super Bowl commercials, two stand out. Their Super Bowl XXI ad feels like a mini rom-com starring Michael J. Fox. Their Super Bowl XXIV commercial is pure joy with the late great Ray Charles. Just two years after Back to the Future came out, Fox lent the spot some big star power. The faces he makes in the ad shows his comedic acting chops. While the 1990 ad commercial tells a joke about the music legend being blind. The way Charles reacts to the joke will have you laughing with him not at him.
Super Bowl XXII – Bartles & Jaymes
This Bartles & Jaymes ad is so dumb, and maybe that is why it works. This was part of a larger set of commercials that ran from 1984-1991, so by the time this aired in 1988 the two old man characters were beloved. Their bit about the Super Bowl being about bowling feels like a scene from Oh, Hello if Nick Kroll and John Mulaney were squeaky clean.
Super Bowl XXVIII – Nike
It should be said that this commercial for Air Jordans came out three years before Space Jam. Honestly, it could replace the whole movie. It really feels like a Looney Tunes cartoon complete with all the visual gags and recurring bits that fans loved from the animated show. LeBron James has some
big hilarious shoes to fill in the upcoming Space Jam remake.
Super Bowl XXXVII – Budweiser
Fun fact: The original Whassup commercial did not air during the Super Bowl, but it became an instant phenomenon after it dropped on Monday Night Football in 1999. This 2001 Budweiser commercial plays on the established catchphrase, but having stereotypical, rich white guy characters accidentally say the phrase, it might make this instance of the campaign funnier than the original.
Super Bowl XLIII and XLVII – Doritos
Doritos makes hilarious Super Bowl commercials; much like Geico, humor seems to be part of their brand identity. They have had a shocking amount of ad spots during the Super Bowl, but the commercials from the 2009 and 2013 Super Bowls really stand out. The 2009 ad feels like it could be seamlessly stitched into an episode of Workaholics (which would come out two years later) and the 2013 ad is pure absurdism. A screaming goat was already cashing in on an internet phenomenon, but weaving a meme into a narrative structure makes this all the more funnier.
Super Bowl XLIV – Snickers
Snicker has had a lot of amazing commercials with the premise, “You’re not you when you are hungry.” The campaign has been so successful it is often quoted as a case study for marketing. The first version premiered a the Super Bowl in 2010 and starred Betty White. Another great version that also premiered at the Super Bowl features the late Robin Williams. These commercials tend to star popular comedians as the hungrier version of the commercials’ characters and we love discovering who Snickers tapped next while we angrily await the ruling of a challenge.
Super Bowl XLVII – Oreo
This commercial for Oreos feels like a sketch. There is something about it that feels like someone outside the company made it and it just happened to be about Oreos like when SNL made a commercial for Totinos. Maybe Lorne Michaels cut this one and it ended up on the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl LI – Kia
Melissa McCarthy and her hilarious faces are really what makes this Super Bowl commercial shine. While a car can’t actually fix the environment, McCarthy really sells every part of this performance. McCarthy has always been great at physical comedy and she really gets to show it off in this ad.
Super Bowl LII – Alexa
As a company, Amazon doesn’t need commercials; they already own everything. This commercial is really funny if you don’t think about if they are recording you through your Alexa. Sometimes ads just have celebrity cameos to have recognizable faces associated with the product, but the writing of this ad is really smart and utilizes the celebrities’ public personas for comedy.
Super Bowl LII – Pringles
There is just something about how Bill Hader says “Wow,” that makes this strange Pringles commercial really funny.