J-School Faculty and Staff Reveal Their Favorite Super Bowl Ads

This Sunday, February 11, the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49’ers will go head-to-head in Super Bowl LVIII. While football may be the main event for most, J-School students, faculty and staff know that the real competition happens off the field as the world’s top strategic communicators put their best ads forward. In honor of this year’s Super Bowl, J-School faculty and staff shared their favorite Super Bowl ads.

Apple Macintosh: 1984 (1984)

“I have vivid memories of watching the now-iconic Apple Macintosh “1984” ad when I was a kid — my dad worked in advertising, and he was clearly blown away by it. (And then he bought one of the original Macs — so it worked!) I wasn’t familiar with the references to the book “1984,” but even at that age I thought the ad told a mesmerizing story. Rewatching it now, the ad so effectively shows the audience how the Macintosh was going to smash every idea of what a personal computer would be.” – Stacy Forster, Teaching Faculty

“It feels like a cliche to cite it at this point, but 40 years later nothing has come close to the impact of Apple’s 1984 commercial introducing the Macintosh as far as I’m concerned. The creative team and director Ridley Scott did a brilliant job bringing George Orwell’s dystopian novel to life in a cinematic :60 spot, using a washed-out color palette to emphasize the soul-crushing drudgery and conformity before our heroine arrives in blazing color to shatter that way of life. It still gives me chills. There’s obviously an extra layer of irony viewing this ad through today’s lens, as many people would put Apple in the role of Big Brother rather than ‘heroic rebel upstart’ these days. But I’ll still take it over any of Budweiser’s Super Bowl spots to date – especially the one with the horse farting in a woman’s face. You spent millions to run…that?” – Deb Medsker, Adjunct Instructor

Budweiser: Frogs (1995)

“I was 13, and this was the first time I recall conversations about something cute (the frogs) promoting alcohol use. The “Bud” “Weis” “Er” croaking was mimicked in school hallways for months after the game. The commercial itself was so simple but had a lasting impact on the way ads shape developing adolescent minds.” – Jenni Hart, Department Administrator

EDS: Cat Herders (2000)

“Great production values. It makes you laugh, it makes you cry. On the other hand, what the heck is EDS?” – Doug McLeod, Evjue Centennial Professor

Reebok: Terry Tate Office Linebacker (2003)

“I was in the third year of teaching J202 – the J-School’s 6-credit gateway skills course – when this spot first aired during the Super Bowl. I had teed up the best and worst of the Super Bowl ads in the last two years, but something was different about this one. It’s riotously funny, for sure. But it also ushered in a new concept … going viral. Remember, this was two years before YouTube launched and three before Facebook became available to everyone. So “viral” meant millions of users were downloading the ad from Reebok’s website and sharing it via email (and some through the just-launched Friendster and MySpace). I remember reading AdAge to watch the download numbers and knowing that my J202 content was going exciting new places. And to this day, I remember the laughter in lecture that Monday morning.” – Katy Culver, Director and James E. Burgess Chair in Journalism Ethics

“Football-centric, Hilarious, Memorable, and Reebok featured in the ad.” – Dhavan Shah, McLeod Professor of Communication Research

Snickers: You’re Not You When You’re Hungry with Betty White (2010)

“Betty White – comic genius!” – Angelina Stone, Administrative Support

Volkswagen: The Force (2011)

“It was a great combination of nostalgia, highlighting features of the car, and an adorable kid trying to be one of the greatest film villains of all time.” – Sandra Kubat, Undergraduate Adviser

Oreo: Dunk in the Dark tweet (2013)

Oreo "Dunk in the Dark" tweet during the 2013 Super Bowl

“It was put together so fast while still capturing the moment – put up on social media while the Superdome was in darkness – and the brand…dunking the Oreo.” – Mike Wagner, Helen Firstbrook Franklin Professor

Silk: “Feel Planty Good” (2024)

“My favorite Super Bowl ad … isn’t IN the Super Bowl! It’s a smart media play that avoids the $6.5 million spend combined with the personal story of Jeremy Renner. Silk is modernizing the ‘big game hack’ by doing a digital-first big game buy in Super Bowl-adjacent places – like streaming on Paramount+, Nickelodeon, and social media ‘second screens.’ Silk partnered with Jeremy Renner – who made a superhuman comeback from a snowcat accident – alongside his daughter, Ava, for the ad. Silk powered Renner’s recovery smoothies The ad shows Renner doing a fun morning routine filled with stunts and cool moves – which he couldn’t have done right after his accident.” – Deb Pierce, Distinguished Teaching Faculty