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Best Celebrity Super Bowl Ads of the Last 50 Years Skip to content

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Best Celebrity Super Bowl Ads

Forget sex — when it comes to ads for the big game, celebrity sells

Cindy Crawford drinks a Pepsi

Courtesy PepsiCo

Cindy Crawford's recreation of her iconic 1991 Pepsi commercial is among this year's most anticipated Super Bowl ads.

Each year, a new crop of Super Bowl ads features a bevy of celebrities hawking products, and Sunday’s game will be no different. Among the famous faces expected to pop up on your screen during commercial breaks this year are Morgan Freeman, Danny DeVito, Keanu Reeves, David Schwimmer and Cindy Crawford, the latter reprising one of the most famous Super Bowl ads of all time, more than a quarter-century after it first aired.

Watch that one below, and click your remote control down memory lane, as we remember some of the best-loved celebrity Super Bowl ads of the last 50-plus years.

Betty White, Snickers

The venerable actress turned her sweet-little-lady act on its ear in a 2010 spot for Snickers, mouthing off to her teammates in a muddy, violent game of rec league football.

Clint Eastwood, Chrysler

During the 2012 game, Eastwood narrated an extended halftime commercial for Chrysler, growling through a monologue, Dirty Harry style, about the resilience of America as it came out of a yearslong recession. “We find a way through tough times. And if we can’t find a way, we’ll make one.”

Watch Eastwood’s “Halftime in America” ad.

Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny, Nike

His Airness was at his playing-days peak in 1992, when he teamed up with that wascally wabbit — “Air Jordan and Hare Jordan” — in a game of pickup hoops against a group of doomed weekend warriors. “This could be the beginning of a bee-yoo-tiful friendship,” Bugs said at the end of the spot. And he was right — four years later, Jordan teamed up with the Looney Tunes characters for the hit flick Space Jam.

Watch Air and Hare Jordan in action.

Farrah Fawcett and Joe Namath, Noxzema

This pairing of sex symbol and sports star aired in 1973 during Super Bowl VII, so it wasn’t the first Super Bowl ad. But the ad, in which Fawcett slathered shaving cream all over Broadway Joe’s mug, may have been the first to cash in so memorably on that intoxicating elixir of celebrity and product that’s now a hallmark of so many Super Bowl spots.

Watch Joe Namath get creamed.

Cindy Crawford, Pepsi

Start with a flashy red sports car (Lamborghini) at a dusty roadside filling station, throw in a world-famous supermodel (Crawford) and play a classic R&B tune (“Just One Look”) and – voila! — you have one of the most memorable Super Bowl ads of all time. The joke in the 1991 spot is that the teen boys taking in the scene aren’t ogling the car or Crawford, but the soda that pops out of the vending machine: “It’s beautiful.” Crawford, with help from her son Presley Gerber, will recreate the ad — 26 years later — during this year’s game.

Michael Jordan and Larry Bird, McDonald’s

The two basketball stars and rivals squared off in a game of H-O-R-S-E in this 1993 ad, with a Big Mac as the winning stakes. The game quickly spirals out of control as the sharpshooters never miss. “Off the floor, off the scoreboard, off the backboard, no rim,” calls Bird, before pulling off that very shot. Jordan’s last circus shot involves a bounce off the expressway. And we never find out who won that burger. Maybe they’re still playing? The sequel writes itself.

Watch the neverending game of H-O-R-S-E.

Paul Newman, American Express

In 1990, the legendary actor tweaked his well-known manly side gig as a race car driver by drag-racing atop a minibike that he started via a pull cord. How exactly it tied into his use of his American Express card is anyone’s guess, but the sight of Butch Cassidy straddling a teeny-tiny motorcycle and puttering down a drag strip made it a hit with viewers.

Watch Paul Newman ride a scooter.

“Mean” Joe Greene, Coca-Cola

Greene didn’t earn his nickname for nothing: The massive defensive lineman was known as one of the fiercest players on the gridiron during his playing days with the Pittsburgh Steelers. This uber-classic 1979 ad used that reputation to its sweet advantage, as a young fan offers him a soda pop as he limps off the field. As he chugs the drink, his snarl turns into a smile. The ending line —“Hey, kid. Catch.” — uttered as he tosses his jersey to the boy, remains one of the most memorable quotes in TV ad history.

John Malkovich, Squarespace

The decorated thespian had some fun with his reputation for being intense during the 2017 Super Bowl. His attempts to secure the domain name are thwarted when he discovers that it is taken by a fisherman who shares his name.

Watch John Malkovich discover John

Sean Hayes, Bud Light

File this one under “Before They Were Stars.” Hayes was an unknown actor when he appeared in a 1998 Bud Light ad as a guy shopping with his girlfriend who finds refuge (and beer and chips) at a hidden man cave in the petites section of a department store. Later that year, Hayes shot to fame as Jack on Will & Grace, a role that made him famous and which he reprises in the show’s recent revival.

Watch Sean Hayes find a shopping-spree safe place.

Michael Jackson, Pepsi

Jackson was the undisputed King of Pop in 1984 when he reworked the lyrics to his hit song “Billie Jean” and danced in the street with his brothers and a group of young kids, proclaiming the cola as the “choice of a new generation.” Clips of this classic will reportedly be included in the revival of the Cindy Crawford ad during this year’s game. Beyond ads, MJ and the Super Bowl are inextricably linked — many think his halftime show in 1994 was the best one ever.

Watch Michael Jackson dance in the streets.

Jerry Seinfeld, American Express

The comedian was able to indulge his career-long fascination with Superman by starring alongside the Man of Steel (voiced by his Seinfeld costar Patrick Warburton) to shill for the charge card 1998. In another memorable Super Bowl spot, Seinfeld reunited in 2014 with his sitcom pal George Costanza (Jason Alexander, in character) to complain about being excluded from a friend’s Super Bowl party and, not incidentally, to plug his web series Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.

Watch Seinfeld and Superman.
Watch the Seinfeld reunion.

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