Coke's Super Bowl Commercials Ranked

There are a few things you can count on from a Super Bowl. One is that the halftime show will have at least one or two glitches, which may be as innocuous as Bruce Springsteen sliding crotch-first into a camera or as decidedly serious as nudity caused by the infamous so-called "wardrobe malfunction."

You can also count on a lot of great commercials airing during a Super Bowl broadcast, and in most years a reliable roster of companies will contribute an ad to this lineup. But a surprising number of perennial Super Bowl participants have decided not to air commercials during the game.

Among the companies passing on Super Bowl advertising in recent years are Budweiser, Avocados from Mexico, Pepsi, Hyundai, and, perhaps most surprising of all, Coca-Cola.

Coke has released some of its finest ads during Super Bowl games past, and indeed many a time Coca-Cola Super Bowl commercials have been among the best aired during the championship game. Here's a look back at some of the soft drink giant's best ads from Big Games past. Join us for a stroll down a sweet, fizzy memory lane.

18. The Chase, 2013

In 2013, Coke released a commercial dubbed "The Chase" that featured an interactive component meant to engage with Super Bowl audiences. However, it was deemed controversial pretty quickly.

In the ad, a man wearing Arabian clothing with a camel is shown walking in the desert. He sees a giant bottle of Coke in the distance and wonders if it's a mirage or not. Then, the crack of whip is heard and a stampede of horses with cowboys in Western outfits comes flying by. This group is then followed by a "Mad Max"-style group and a busload of Las Vegas-style showgirls. The cowboys, badlanders, and showgirls are then shown racing toward the bottle, seemingly in competition with one another. When they reach the bottle, they realize it is a billboard next to a small sign stating that Coke is available 50 miles away. The groups then race off together and the line reads, "Vote now to decide who wins," alongside a link to Coke's website. 

The commercial was deemed racially insensitive by some due to the stereotypical depiction of the Arab man. This was not made better by the fact that the online voting component of the commercial only featured the cowboys, badlanders, and showgirls as options for winners. In response, Coke released a statement saying the commercial was an homage to movies past, such as "Lawrence of Arabia." Controversy aside, this commercial is cinematic but confusing. It's unclear why these groups are together in the desert.

17. Love Story, 2017

Coke is a brand whose messaging is always about being together, whether that be with friends, family members, food, or, in the case of this Super Bowl commercial, all of the above. The ad features various meals being made and served, from seafood to tacos to grilled meat to burgers. Alongside each of these dishes are different varieties of Coke products, like mini cans of Coke, traditional bottled Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Life, and Coke Zero. Families, friends, and couples are enjoying their time together while enjoying their food with whatever choice of Coke product they like. At the end of the ad, the line reads, "Coca-Cola and food, a classic love story." 

This ad is short, sweet, and to the point. We think it is a good commercial all around, but would not necessarily call it a hit Super Bowl ad. Overall it is fairly forgettable and does not stand out against the list of iconic advertisements that the brand is known for. However, we have to admit the food and the Coke products shown in the commercial look delicious. So perhaps the ad is more effective than it may seem on the surface.

16. A Coke is a Coke, 2019

Coca-Cola's animated commercial for the 53rd Super Bowl, in 2019, was yet another spot saying, in as many words, it's okay that we're all different, we're all here in this life together, and we should all drink Coke. The fluid, if you'll permit the pun, animation of the ad shows everyone from boxers to farmers to chefs to movie stars, and of course people of all races, shapes, and sizes, and with many narrators lending their voice, to say, in various ways, there's a Coke for everyone. 

Notably, in one moment a narrator also says it's okay if you're not thirsty for a Coke right now, as we like that lack of pushiness. (Now, would Coke be happier if this ad pushed our unconscious mind to go and buy some Coca-Cola? Yes, we're willing to bet that's exactly why they spent several million dollars on the air time for this ad.)  

This one has the No. 16 spot because while there's nothing wrong with it, per se, it just isn't memorable.

15. It's Mine! 2008

Coming in at No. 15 is a cute enough ad, but one that failed in its goal to be epic.

The "It's Mine" Coca-Cola Super Bowl commercial featured a slightly unexpected mix of characters. Starring in the ad were parade balloons of "Family Guy's" Stewie Griffin, classic cartoon superhero Underdog, and everyone's favorite cartoon sad sack, Charlie Brown. The balloons "fight" for a huge inflated bottle of Coca-Cola, with Charlie Brown coming out the winner for once. 

Frankly, the ad wasn't half as funny as Coke's team surely intended, but it was beautifully shot and featured lots of great images of New York City, not to mention showing lots of non-inflatable New York natives. The city was as much a character in the ad, as was the operatic score and drama of the filming. This is not a Super Bowl ad that likely comes to mind when you think of the greatest ones ever, but it is worth revisiting for a little smile. It's also cool to see cartoon characters from a generation or even two or three back interact with a much more modern character.

14. Martin Scorsese & Jonah Hill, 2020

In 2020, Coke released a Super Bowl commercial featuring film director and Hollywood legend Martin Scorsese alongside comedy icon Jonah Hill for the company's new release of Coke brand energy drinks. This ad was kind of funny, but not overly memorable, and raised more questions than answers. 

In the commercial, Martin Scorsese is at a costume party on his own. It seems odd for a famous, older celebrity to not only be at a party but also to be there alone and not be recognized by anyone else there. Scorsese is texting with his friend (?) Jonah Hill, asking him when he'll arrive to the party. Hill is tired (weren't we all in 2020?) and starts to type what we're led to believe is his excuse for bailing on Scorsese. Scorsese sees the infamous three dots, indicating Hill's longwinded reply, and the commercial takes us through an odd montage of everyone from Scorsese himself, to Pac-Man, to rapper Cordae, to toads with three eyes asking Hill whether he's going to flake out. In lieu of canceling, Hill heads to a local convenience store, grabs a Coke energy drink, and heads to the party, refreshed, energized, and ready to be there for Scorsese. 

The premise for this commercial is kind of odd, with no real ties between the two stars except their project "The Wolf of Wall Street" seven years prior. It isn't clear why Scorsese needs Hill's help. Because of this, we rank this one fairly low.

13. Hulk vs. Ant-Man, 2016

Some people are not the biggest fans of the superhero genre and couldn't care less about the slew of Marvel movies that have come out in recent years, such as those starring Spider-Man, the Avengers, Ant-Man, and so on. But Coke went ahead and banked on the tens of millions of people who do like the genre with this Super Bowl ad. It depicts an epic chase wherein the massive Incredible Hulk pursues the very small Ant-Man all over a rather small can of Coke.

There are lots of splashy effects, some comedy, and of course the Marvel superheroes, but here's why the commercial works: if you watch it, you can't help but know that Coke is available in small cans for when you don't want an entire 12-ounce serving. (And no, that really isn't enough Coke for Hulk, and yes, it's way too much for Ant-Man. Oh well.)

That said, this commercial is on our lower end because to those to whom superheroes don't appeal, it's a big, flashy "who cares?"

12. Happiness Factory, 2007

The Coke Super Bowl commercial called "Happiness Factory" finally let us in one what goes on inside a Coca-Cola soft drink vending machine. After a thirsty young man deposits his coin and hits the button for a Coke, we follow the journey of soda to dispenser with an insider's look. It turns out a strange, fairy tale cast of characters goes through an elaborate process of filling each bottle, capping it, chilling it, then giving it a parade as it makes its way down the chute to the customer. Or at least it's nice to think that all happens.

The ad was cute and a bit odd and perfectly inoffensive, which seemed to the brand's approach to Big Game ads for a while in the early 2000s. And while surely not a commercial that will enter the pantheon of the greatest ever, the production value and special effects were still pretty cool to look at. It's on the list for those, but ranked low because it's not all that memorable.

11. Heist, 2009

Coke's 2009 Super Bowl ad, called "Heist," was a rather classic and successful in every way. First, the production value was huge, which is to be expected from a big brand during the Big Game. Second, it was funny without anything even approaching the offensive in nature. Third, it very much promoted the product, in this case as being so desirable that a group of unlikely allies came together to get their hands on some Coca-Cola. Or maybe not hands, but wings, pincers, legs, proboscises, and other insect parts.

"Heist" tells the mini tale of a man who falls asleep in the park, only to have a bunch of bugs (from bees to beetles to grasshoppers) all work together to steal his bottle of Coke and share with a throng of thrilled invertebrates. If one thing can bring together species that at other times try to kill each other, it's a tasty soft drink. This one beats out "Happiness Factory" because along with good special effects, it had a mini story.

10. Border, 2011

How far would you bend your principles to drink a Coke? That's the question Coke's 2011 Super Bowl commercial, "Border" attempts to answer.

The ad features two rival guards in a desert, diligently watching their respective sides of a border that has been marked with a line in the sand. One of the guards grabs an ice cold Coca-Cola and pops the top, while the other looks longingly. The first guard goes to offer the second a bottle of coke for himself, but the two are unsure how to pass it along without crossing into rival territory. To solve the problem, the first guard uses his sword to draw a semicircle on his side of the border line and places the coke inside of it. The rival guard then smooths out the line separating his land from the coke and takes it, enjoying a big swig. The message in this Coke ad is clear—we're all human and all enjoy a cold Coke on a hot day, even if it means blurring some territory lines to get it. 

Many Coke ads push similar messages to this ad. Togetherness is a theme in a lot of Coke's iconic commercials, and this one is good. However, it's not quite as impactful as other ads brought to us by Coke throughout the decades. It doesn't feature any notable cameos, political statements, or emotional moments that make many of Coke's ads so memorable. So, we've ranked it near the middle of our list.

9. The Polar Bears, 2013

When you think about it objectively, it doesn't really make sense why Coke chose to use polar bears as some of its primary vehicles for advertising Coca-Cola, aside from the fact that they run those commercials in the winter. But if you're like most people even loosely steeped in American media culture, chances are good you could see one of these bears, without a Coke even on screen, and immediately be thinking of a Coke — they're rather like the animated equivalent of Budweiser's Clydesdale horses.

In this charming 2013 Super Bowl polar bear Coke ad, the bear family shares some hugs and some sips of their favorite bear-verage (sorry), and then they make a snow bear and give him a Coke, too. This is one of many, many polar bear Coke commercials produced over the years — they all rather blend together in the mind, but all further cement the association.

8. Make it Happy, 2015

Some of Coca-Cola's best advertisements are the ones that inspire and give hope, despite what's going on in the world. That is just as true for Coke's 2015 Super Bowl ad, dubbed "Make it Happy," as it is for any other commercial on this list. 

In the ad, Coke depicts a world addicted to technology and riddled with hate. There is a montage of angry gamers, social media users, and media personalities spewing messages of hate, bullying, and negativity. A worker in an internet server room then accidentally spills his bottle of Coke onto a computer, and the bubbly goodness of Coke is then transmitted through the ethernet cables out to the world. Messages of hate turn into messages of love, and people who were previously upset begin to be happy. The message at the end of the commercial reads, "The world is what we make it. #MakeItHappy."

This ad features a lot of traits from classic Coke commercials that we approve of. There is an overarching message of inclusion and hopefulness and the ad seems to make a timely commentary on online bullying. However, the commercial is not as powerful as other Coke ads. It is also unlikely that dropping a bottle of Coke onto a server would do anything other than completely damage the hardware, so you have to suspend a bit of disbelief to even be able to enjoy the ad. That aside, it is a solid commercial worthy of ranking near the center of our list.

7. The Wonder of Us, 2018

The 2018 Super Bowl commercial from Coca-Cola struck a different tone than many previous ads from the company (though not all) when it went more for the heartstrings than the funny bone. The ad, titled "The Wonder of Us," showed all sorts of different people doing all sorts of different things, from going on carnival rides to lounging at the beach to dancing to playing sports to sitting still for a moment and, making clear that, whether for "her, him, she, you, he, me, we," and so on, there's a Coke for all of us.

Did the ad actually have much to do with Coke? Not really, beyond a few people taking sips of the stuff. But it's a classic ad technique of hoping people get a good brand impression by association with being made to feel good. (Politicians tend to try for the same thing with babies and puppies, you will notice.) It's No. 7 because the intention here was a positive one and the filming and production were topnotch.

6. The Simpsons, 2010

Using celebrities to help endorse and sell a product is one of the oldest tricks in the proverbial book that advertisers use. And who are bigger celebs that the fictional cast of characters from "The Simpsons?" Pretty much no one. That's why Coke's Super Bowl 44 (that's Super Bowl XLIV) ad used many favorite Simpsons characters, including the core Simpson family, Milhouse, Lenny, Carl, Patty, Selma, Ned, Professor Frink, Nelson ... and well, on it goes with dozens of your favorites, really.

The star of the ad was wealthy old Mr. Burns, who we learn has just lost his fortune. But what brings a smile back to suddenly penniless Monty Burns' face? Why a bottle of cold Coca-Cola, of course. Now, will that be enough to get Smithers working for him again, the nuclear power plant running at full production, and for Springfield's oldest citizen to earn back his wealth? 

This ad gets No. 6 because despite the fact that there are no memorable specific jokes, it makes great use of a beloved cast.

5. Troy Polamalu, Coke Zero, 2009

Not that there was any question that Coke was one of the world's largest players both in terms of product and in advertising power, but lest there was any doubt whatsoever, that was put to rest during the 2009 Super Bowl XLIII broadcast when Coca-Cola released a brilliantly self-referential ad. The spot was an homage to the Mean Joe Greene spot from 30 years before, but this time featuring player Troy Polamalu (who is not known for being mean, for the record) and advertising not Coca-Cola Classic, but Coke Zero.

Two Coke execs try to comically interrupt the ad, but Polamalu does what he does best and tackles them, the humor growing between the glamor shots of Coke Zero. And before that, many of the scenes are almost shot-for-shot recreations of the 1979 ad. Just look at the similarities between Mean Joe's sip shot below and Troy's, even. It's a solid spot and deserves being within our top five.

4. Going All the Way, 2014

The 2014 Coca-Cola Super Bowl commercial "Going All the Way" was an inspirational mini film unto itself. In the ad, we see a young man named Adrian get taken off the bench and put into a youth football game. He is smaller than most players, and from how teammates treat him, perhaps not the best at the game. But when Adrian recovers a fumble, he sees his chance and takes it ... all the way. First Adrian runs to the end zone and scores a touch down, but then he keeps on going, right past a Coke billboard, and all the way across town and right onto the gridiron at Lambeau Field.

There, the young footballer is given a Coke to enjoy after his epic run. Never mind that soda is a diuretic; it's a cute ad and it helps us imagine that, with determination, anyone can do whatever they want, be it a big goal or a small one. This ad gets No. 4 because it's touching and inspirational, and because we have all always felt like Adrian at the start of the ad and hoped to feel like he does at the end.

3. Hilltop, 1971

We can't discuss classic Coca-Cola ads without talking about 1971's commercial, dubbed "Hilltop," also known by Coke fans as the "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke" commercial. This Coke ad features everything you could ask for in a timeless Coke ad: a catchy song, a slew of different types of individuals from across the world, a stunning helicopter shot (which was a big move for a commercial in the 1970s), and lots of close-ups of different Coke bottles from around the world, covered in chilly condensation. It also included Coke's iconic tagline, "It's the real thing."

The advertising executive responsible for this famous commercial said the creative team wanted to create something that was sing-along worthy but was different from the screaming rock music popular at the time. In addition, the goal of the commercial was to inspire togetherness by showing international youths from around the globe united together and singing on a hilltop. The commercial had a $100,000 budget, which was nearly double the average cost of a commercial at the time, but it ended up costing over $250,000 to make. Although it was a lot to spend for a commercial at the time, it paid off.

"I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke" quickly became a song that everyone knew and the ad tugged at viewers' heartstrings, prompting the commercial to become an iconic moment of inclusivity and hope. Few Coke ads since have achieved the iconic status of 1971's "Hilltop" commercial.

2. Mean Joe Greene, Hey Kid, Catch! 1979

The 1979 "Mean Joe Greene" Coca-Cola Super Bowl commercial is one of the most famous ads of all time, often referenced, often spoofed, and never to be forgotten as long as we pay attention to any sort of media history. The ad might not resonate with a contemporary viewer who does not know the context, but Joe Greene was, at the time, one of the most respected NFL players for his prowess — but was just as harshly judged for his perceived aggressive and negative attitude.

In the ad, a young fan offers an injured and angry Greene his bottle of Coke, and after a moment, Mean Joe relents, accepts, and drinks the soda deeply and with gratitude, then tosses the youngster his game jersey. The ad managed to be both funny and sweet, and of course promotes Coke well, too. (And earlier on our list, we discuss a brilliant remake of this ad that came out 30 years after it.)

It was a tough call to make this No. 2 or No. 1, but there's one more commercial that reigns supreme over all the others.

1. America Is Beautiful, 2014

Coca-Cola's beautiful 2014 Super Bowl ad called "America Is Beautiful" brought out a lot of not-so-beautiful hate when countless people attacked the ad. The spot shows Americans of all races, ages, colors, locations, and backgrounds, and features the song "America the Beautiful" in many different languages, something a lot of closed-minded Americans seriously hated.

While plenty of people spouted off a lot of hate about the spot, plenty of people loved and supported it, too. Look no farther than one Twitter user's comment the night the commercial aired: "Best ad of the first half: #Coke celebrating the immigrant spirit of patriotism in #AmericaIsBeautiful" (via HuffPost).

Look at the commercial objectively, and you will see what America is truly made up of, which is lots of different people living in lots of different places, many of which are strikingly beautiful. Is it really so hard to just not find fault with that, Coke purchase in the cards or not?

This is our top pick because despite the hate it caused to boil out of some, it was intended to show the love. Love for country. And love for Coke.