With “The Big Game”, “The Football Championship”, “The Ultimate Football Game”, “The AFC-NFC Title Game”, or whatever other NFL attorney-approved alternative to the ridiculously-copyrighted Super Bowl you want to use this weekend, I thought it’d be fun to take a look back at some of the all-time winners from an advertising standpoint. It’s always easy to be a Monday morning quarterback (pun intended), and these all-time great ads prove that great creative still matters. Don’t believe me? Just ask the marketing leaders at these brands that blew their chances– drawing the ire of your customers is never good, but paying a premium for the privilege to build brand animosity is a surefire way to unemployment. Here are seven of the biggest winners from over the years, with apologies to Cheetos, M&Ms, and Clorox for their notable omissions:

Winners
Air Jordan: Hare Jordan (1992)
This might be the only commercial, ever, that led to a movie (and a sequel 25 years later). Nike and its Air Jordan brand capitalized on its partnership with the decade’s greatest pitchman for this spot that endeared both Jordan and his Air Jordan brand to kids and the parents that would pay for those shoes.

Volkswagen: The Force (2011)
If you’re going to license rights to the creative assets of one of the all-time great movies, you’d better do it well. Volkswagen nailed it with this memorable spot that channeled the force while highlighting a warm family moment.

Budweiser: Frogs (1995) 
The king of Super Bowl commercials launched a viral sensation with the airing of the infamous Budweiser Frogs, which led to an entire follow up campaign that lasted years, ill-advised apparel, and parodies galore.

Apple: 1984
One of the greatest commercials of all time, period, came with the late, great Steve Jobs at the helm. This attention-grabbing spot set the tone for Mac’s differentiation and is a great reminder for marketing leaders that a commercial doesn’t have to be funny to be effective.

Budweiser: Brotherhood (2011) and Budweiser: Lost Dog (2015)
Clydesdales and puppies are as synonymous with the Super Bowl as wings and gambling thanks to Budweiser’s long-running campaigns centered around impossible-to-hate animals, horses, and dogs (don’t reply to me lobbying for cats). Larger, more established brands like Budweiser have more creative liberty with Super Bowl commercials and Budweiser leveraged it to create spots that forever linked them to Clydesdales and yellow lab puppies. Smart.

Coca Cola: Hey Kid, Catch! (1980) 
“Mean” Joe Greene’s spot for the brand started a long run of solid Super Bowl commercials over the years for Coca Cola. Endearing at the time, the spot remains a timeless classic and was even remade thirty years later.

Enjoy the game- and the ads.

Summary