Coca-Cola – “Hey Kid, Catch!”

No explanation needed for this ad, claiming that Coca-Cola is so good, it can make even the meanest man smile. Featuring “Mean” Joe Greene, one of the greatest defensive players in the history of the NFL, the 1979 commercial is widely considered one of the best in history.

While the commercial was technically aired prior to the game, the widespread audience helped make the ad one of the all-time greats. Having made the jump into pop culture, the commercials and various spoofs are now instantly recognizable to people who may have never even heard of Greene – or his reputation.

Gatorade – “23 vs. 39”

If you mention ‘Michael Jordan’ and ‘Super Bowl,’ commercial aficionados are likely to think either of the outlandish game of HORSE played between Jordan and Larry Bird, or the iconic basketball player going toe-to-toe with Bugs Bunny. While the commercials’ abilities to sell Big Macs and Air Jordans, respectively, isn’t in question, we can’t help but feel that both of those spots pale in comparison to Gatorade’s “23 vs. 39.”

By now, Michael Jordan’s career has become the stuff of legend, hailed as one of the greatest men to ever pick up a basketball. So for the 2003 Super Bowl, Gatorade turned to special effects studio to do the impossible: have Jordan face off against his younger self. Seeing the Jordan of 2003 enter a game of one-on-one with his 1987 Chicago Bulls counterpart will captivate anyone even remotely familiar with Jordan’s career, and shows what Gatorade wanted to sell: not just a sports drink, but an idea of athletic potential.

Budweiser – “Brotherhood”

You can’t have a Super Bowl without a Budweiser Clydesdale spot, and after a few years slipping from the top spot of most touching, most powerful, and most discussed commercials of the big game, the brewer came back with a vengeance.

It’s been a year, and we still can’t watch this chronicle of a newborn horse (just seven days old during filming) through youth – only to join Budweiser’s trademark troupe and later reunite with his trainer in downtown Chicago – without tearing up. Even this year’s follow-up can’t reach the same heights, and it has a PUPPY.

Dodge Ram – “Farmer”

Technically, much of the credit for this spot should be granted to Paul Harvey’s original speech, originally given at the 1978 Future Farmers of America convention. But by setting Harvey’s words to some truly breathtaking photographs, and recognizing the merits of Harvey’s touching ode to America’s farmers in the first place, Dodge created a love letter to America’s Heartland.

Every Super Bowl brings droves of commercials featuring cowboys, working men, and ideas of what America is all about, but few actually made us want to give up our careers and start plowing fields immediately. Without drawing any attention to the Dodge Ram that the ad is selling, and instead suggesting that it is up to the task adopted by farmers daily, Dodge outdid themselves.

NEXT PAGE: Ridley Scott’s ‘1984’ Apple Commercial

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