The Top 5 Most Memorable Super Bowl Commercials in History

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Super Bowl Sunday has something for everyone.

The all-inclusive, unofficial American holiday features a few signature elements each year. There is the halftime show (Katy Perry this year!). There is the actual game (Seattle against New England!). There is the food, and with an estimated 1.25 billion chicken wings to be consumed today, there will be plenty of it.

And then there are the commercials.

The Super Bowl is a mass media event. The most-watched television show of the year has not been touched by new-school ways of uninterrupted watching like Netflix and Hulu. At its core, the Super Bowl is a good old fashioned TV program with gold old fashioned commercials, no different than what aired during the Steelers dynasty of the 1970s, the 49ers in the 80s, the Cowboys in the 90s and the Patriots in the 00s. Stay tuned to see if the Seahawks can lay claim to the 10s.

The Super Bowl is more than a football event, more than a sporting contest: It is an all-out media and pop culture carnival.

Super Bowl commercials have become a genre all of their own. At $4.5 million for 30 seconds this year, Super Bowl commercials have traditionally been an incredibly expensive and memorable way for companies to reach the biggest audience that will assemble in front of a television all year.

According to CNN's Brian Stelter, this year's game will feature 15 first-time Super Bowl advertisers joining mainstays like Budweiser, Coca-Cola and McDonald's. Looking back, they all have some big shoes to fill. From Cindy Crawford to Mean Joe Greene to the talking, stock-trading baby to Little Darth Vader, Super Bowl commercials have produced a cast of characters that will always be associated with breaks in the big game.

As you'll see in the list below, the bar has been raised very high over the years. Will any of the new guys make this list next year? Tune in Sunday night and find out for yourself.

Here then are the top 5 most memorable Super Bowl commercials of all time.

5. Clydesdales Video Review (Budweiser)

The Budweiser Clydesdales have made an appearance on Super Bowl Sunday going back to 1986. They'll appear in another commercial again this year, but the spot from 2004 in which they are waiting for a zebra to make a call on a video replay was priceless. It is also one of the highest-rated Super Bowl commercials ever.

4. Mean Joe Greene (Coca-Cola)

The oldest commercial on the list, the Mean Joe Greene spot aired in 1979 and people still remember it. The simple sweetness of the ad, with the tough-as-nails Greene tossing the boy the jersey off his shoulder is the stuff of legend. It's every young fan's dream, and at a time when the NFL is suffering from a terrible image problem (watch for the league's PSA on domestic violence during Super Bowl XLIX), it might be worth revisiting again soon.

3. Terry Tate: Office Linebacker (Reebok)

"Terrible" Terry Tate is a fictional character created for a line of Reebok ads who was introduced to America during the Super Bowl in 2003. There were a total of six Tate ads produced by Reebok but the original was by far the most popular, downloaded more than 7 million times from the company's website.

2. Frogs (Budweiser)


This ad just goes to show that all you need is a simple concept to make your brand stand out from the crowd. Budweiser calls itself the "king of beers," but it may also be the king of Super Bowl commercials. While this one from 1995 is not flashy with special effects or supermodels, there is no secret what it's selling. It's beer. And its name is Bud. Weis. Errr.

1. 1984 (Apple)

A generation ahead of the iPhone and this year's anticipated Apple Watch, the company announced its presence with authority in one of the most memorable commercials ever aired. Cinematic, dark and directed by Blade Runner director Ridley Scott, the spot almost didn't make it to the screen. But it did, and television, advertising and technology history were never the same.

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