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15 best Super Bowl commercials of all time

Britney Spears in her Pepsi commercial for Super

Britney Spears in her Pepsi commercial for Super Bowl XXXV in 2001. Credit: Pepsi via YouTube

As you may have heard, there's a Super Bowl coming up -- No. 48, or ex-el-vee-triple "i" -- and while there will be football, there will also be commercials: Roughly 60 of them. That's is a big number and potentially represents, as it does every year, the bane of advertisers, notably "clutter." "Clutter" means too many ads, and when there are too many, viewers tend to forget all of them. And that is one reason why Super Bowl commercials tend to be some of the most memorable bits of video you see all year -- thirty second snippets that are designed to make you remember them, long after the game has ended.

With that thought in mind, let's take a tour of the 15 most memorable Super Bowls in history -- beginning with No. 15. The most memorable is No. 1, naturally. The fun thing about these lists is that they are purely subjective: Each of us will come up with a different list, of course. This is mine... And by the way, "best" reflects only that which is "most memorable." Obviously, some of these are aesthetic  monstrosities -- ghastly bits of  video that curdle the mind and corrupt the senses. But, darn-it, you can't forget 'em.

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15.) Britney Spears 2001: Hey, this could even go at number one; it's unforgettable, even if we want to forget...

14.) Doritos: Ann Richards and Mario Cuomo get crunchy. Once seen, never ever forgotten...

13.) Danica Patrick: There have been so many awful Go Daddy Danica Patrick ads that one hardly knows where to begin -- they all run together in a big unseemly mess in the brain. But this one, from 1999, is a good start:

12.) Betty White and Abe Vigoda, in 2010: Has there ever been a better Super Bowl commercial?

11.) Dave! Jay! Oprah! This one is great -- but I totally forget what the product being sold is. Who cares! It's the ad that counts:

10.) Xerox and the Monks... a most peculiar ad, from 1976, but once seen never forgotten...

9.) Bud Light: From Super Bowl XLII -- so many Bud Light commercials? Where to begin? What to choose? This one...

8.) Budweiser and its foals... So many Bud foals over the years -- but this one from last year sticks; maybe because it's from last year:

7.) Bridgestone's Killer Whale: Bridgestone's killer whale is one of my all-time favorites, and damned if I'm about to forget it...

6.) Michael Jordan, Larry Bird play "HORSE" for a Big Mac: Again, as memorable as they get, and as absurd as they get, too? Multimillionaires playing for a Big Mac? Of course, in the alternate-logic universe of the Super Ad, makes perfect...

5.) created some of the most memorable of them all, including this one from 2009:

4.) John Madden and Miller Lite -- 1980: The Super Bowl, as a collective memory predicated largely on commercials as opposed to football, would be unimaginable without this one...

3.) Noxema creams Joe Namath, or Farrah Fawcett does: In 1973 there was an ad so ineffably awful that it would stay with us all forever... This one:

2.) Mean Joe Greene and Coca-Cola: Debates have raged over this ad -- a great one or an awful one? I've long ago settled on the "great" side of the equation here. This ad is largely perfect, as an emblem of everything Coke is or ever wanted to be, and coming as it did when the Steel Curtain really was made of steel, its timeliness was even better. Most of all, it's unforgettable:

1.) Apple: You knew this would be number one, didn't you? Chiat/Day's classic, which launched a brand and till this very day still resonates. Weirdly, otherworldly wonderful...

Which Super Bowl commercial do you think is the most memorable? Tell us in the comments below.

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