We at InVideo love watching commercials. They spark our creativity and there is so much to learn from them and implement for our own video ad templates. According to Forbes, viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it on video, compared to 10% when reading it. The increase in click-through rate with video is as high as 96%, and videos are shared 1200% more times than links and text combined, which means digital commercials should be an important component of your marketing strategy.
But standing out in the digital landscape is becoming more and more difficult. We’re here to help by rounding up 33 of the best commercials of all time so you can draw inspiration from them and get fresh new ideas to create your next video ad. We’ve got you covered with examples from across genres including some of the most popular Super Bowl commercials.
And if you stick around till the end, we will also dissect what kind of commercials seem to be the most effective and show you how you can very easily create your own video commercial for FREE, even if you’ve never edited a video before. Let’s get down to it.
Plan of action
Super Bowl commercials
What makes an effective commercial?
How to make a commercial for free
Some of the best commercials are memorable because they make us laugh no matter how many times we watch them. Humour is a great way to instantly connect with your audience and create a positive impression for your brand. However, if not approached sensitively, it can lead to backlash, or create a scenario where your audience remembers the ad but not the product. Here are some of the funniest commercials that have struck a fine balance between being amusing and effective.
John West Salmon - Bear Fight
This ad for British canning company John West opens in a faux nature documentary style, complete with a David Attenbourgh-like voiceover. It takes a surreal turn when we see a John West employee fight a bear to snatch away fresh salmon. Bringing home the concept is the punchline that ties it all together: “John West endures the worst to bring you the best.” The ad, which was created by London-based agency Leo Burnett in 2000, went viral. According to marketing company The Viral Factory, it received 360 million views as of 2006.
Old Spice - The Man Your Man Could Smell Like
Snappy dialogue and perfect delivery from towel-clad ex-American football star, Isaiah Mustafa makes this ad a winner. The concept is backed by sound reasoning—agency Weiden & Kennedy came up with the idea after it found that 60% of body wash purchases are made by women. The ad earned 5.9 million YouTube views on the first day alone, and bagged the prestigious Cannes Lions Film Grand Prix award. As a result, the legacy brand got a new lease on life, and by the end of the year, it had become the leading body wash brand for US men with sales up 125%.
Budweiser - Whassup!
The premise of this famous commercial is simple yet effective because of its universal appeal—just friends goofing off while watching a match over chilled beers. After it aired, parodies surfaced on the internet, talk show hosts and DJs began referencing it in their routines, and the ad’s now-iconic catchphrase “Whassup?” became popular even in countries where Budweiser wasn’t sold!
T Mobile - Mama Tests T Mobile’s 5G Network
Featuring actor Anthony Anderson and his real-life mom Doris, this is a fine example of how to create a funny ad without compromising on the message you wish to convey. What makes this a great commercial is that it creates a positive brand association through light-hearted and relatable content that keeps you engaged while also driving home the key aspects of T Mobile’s 5G network.
K-Mart - I Shipped My Pants
Retail chain K-Mart used this irreverent commercial to promote their Ship to Home service that offers customers free delivery on any item they can’t find in stores. This is a great example of how wordplay and humour can be used without being offensive. Unsurprisingly, the video went viral, earning 4.2 million views in a week since it first aired in April 2013. It was so successful, K-Mart also released another hilarious ad based on the classic novel A Christmas Carol.
Doritos - Goat 4 Sale
What happens when a snack-loving pet owner and his snack-loving goat butt heads? This funny commercial. It was one of the selections from Doritos' annual competition for fans to create an ad to be shown during the Super Bowl. Absurdity, slapstick humour, and an unexpected plot made this entry stand out.
Oreo - Cream vs Cookie
Which is the best part of an Oreo? Cookie or cream? Oreo decided to try and solve this conundrum with a social media campaign that led to this commercial that aired during the Super Bowl. It's the only brand to have promoted their Instagram account in a Super Bowl ad, a move that gave their social media engagement a huge boost. A couple of seconds after the airing, the Oreo Instagram profile went from 2,200 followers to 15,000, and reached 35,000 by the end of the night.
A 2011 study found that using a cute baby or animal while issuing a survey increased response rates by 88% and 42% respectively. What makes adorable images so irresistible? According to research, pictures of babies trigger our nurturing instinct and cause the release of dopamine. Simply put, cute imagery makes us feel good and creates a personal connection, which is why it’s an effective marketing tool. Here are a few cute commercials that made us go “Awww…!”
Disneyland Paris - The Little Duck
Disney employed its superb storytelling skills to bring us this heartwarming tale of a fluffy little duck who becomes enamoured with Donald Duck after seeing him in a page from a comic book. Besides tugging at our hearts, this commercial beautifully captures the magic and childlike wonder that one experiences at Disneyland in just 75 seconds.
Budweiser - Puppy Love
According to a study from TiVo, this is the most popular Super Bowl ad to have been aired. What's notable is that you don't realise it's a beer commercial until the very end. The brand employs emotive storytelling rather than heavy-handed marketing to capture viewers' attention. The agrarian setting offers imagery of classic Americana, evoking a sense of timelessness. Research suggests that Millennials are willing to pay more for experiences than physical things, which makes an ad that tells a good story a prudent marketing choice.
Coca-Cola - Mean Joe Greene
This poignant 60-second tale of a timid little boy and a grouchy football player, NFL star “Mean” Joe Greene was an instant hit when it aired in 1979. Thousands of viewers sent letters of admiration to Coca-Cola, which led the brand to replicate this concept with sports stars from other nations like Thailand, Italy and Brazil. It also did wonders for Greene's own reputation. After he appeared in the ad, fans began regularly approaching him to say hello and share their Cokes with him.
Google Android - Rock, Paper Scissors
Whether you’re an Apple or Android fan, you’ll agree that this animated ad is adorable. With its cute anthropomorphic characters and a soaring soundtrack, it's a not so subtle message for Android smartphone makers to unite against ‘playground bully’ Apple, and a nod to Google’s anti-bullying messaging. What also stands out is the choice to rely on the story alone and not feature any phones in the entire ad.
Bonus - InVideo’s Paw-some Commercial
We took a little help from the true stars of the internet—our feline friends—to create this cute ad that shows you just how easy it is to make a scroll-stopping advertisement of your own in under 15 minutes. None of the cats in our clip had any previous video editing experience, and you don’t need it either! Click here to get started.
Few things can drive a brand’s message home like a catchy advertisement. The right jingle can create memory triggers with just a few opening notes and result in a top-of-the-mind recall. The next time a listener sees a sign for your business, they will immediately associate your jingle and are more likely to choose your product. We’ve put together a few catchy commercials for you to check out, but be warned, they’re all earworms!
Metro Line - Dumb Ways to Die
Here’s proof that even serious messages can be effectively delivered in a lively manner. Melbourne Metro decided to take the animated route to promote its 2012 rail safety campaign. The video features colourful blob-like characters and a hilarious song about dumb ways to die to underline the message that railway deaths are easily preventable. It was viewed 2.5 million times in 48 hours and 4.7 million times within 72 hours. The song was also separately launched via iTunes, radio, and YouTube, and reached the Top 10 chart on iTunes in just 24 hours.
Alka-Seltzer - Plop Plop, Fizz Fizz
Back in the 1960s, Alka Seltzer’s redhead, baby-faced mascot, Speedy, introduced viewers to the now-famous line, “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz. Oh, what a relief it is!” Besides being an instant earworm, the tune was used to change the way consumers used the antacid and convey the message of using two doses (instead of one) at once to achieve quick relief from heartburn and acid indigestion.
Kit Kat - Give Me a Break
If you’re not singing this jingle all day long, you have much better willpower than we do! While the song from this 1988 Kit Kat commercial is now iconic, it almost didn’t get made at all. According to its composer Michael A Levine, it was written only because the clients needed to be presented with two options. However, test audiences loved it so much that they did a second test round just to be sure before selecting the song for their ad campaign.
Meow Mix - Meow Mix Cat Food
Though it's from the ‘70s, this ad seems like a viral video from the early days of the internet. It may only have one line, but this jingle is sure to get stuck in your head. In 2019, the brand gave the iconic song a modern upgrade and released an R&B mix along with a kitty-themed music video, plus country, metal, and Latin versions too.
As previous examples of famous advertisements have shown, a good product commercial is one that enables your audience to instantly connect with your brand while subtly relaying your brand’s messaging. These next few commercials prove that telling a good story can make all the difference.
Google - Google Home Alone
Google relied on ’90s nostalgia for its 2018 ‘Make Google Do It’ campaign to promote its product Google Home. Not only did it get actor Macaulay Culkin to reprise his role as Kevin McCallister from the hit 1990 film Home Alone, it went as far as creating a near-perfect replica of the family’s mansion from the movie. The ad pays homage to a number of scenes from the film, except this time Kevin’s defence strategies are all deployed via Google Assistant.
Apple - Drake vs Bench Press
Slapstick humour, a relatable premise, and timely pop culture references—Apple's 2016 ad for its online music service, Apple Music, checks the right boxes. Canadian pop star Drake is at his most macho, pumping iron at the gym. But when his trainer leaves the room for a moment, he indulges himself in his guilty pleasure—lip-synching to Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood". This has disastrous consequences as he loses his grip while doing a bench press and slides off the edge of the bench in defeat. Cue the tagline: “Distractingly good”.
Le Trefle - Emma
A clever idea can elevate even the most basic product. This Leo Burnett product commercial for French toilet paper company Le Trefle pokes fun at the tech-obsessed world. The short clip about a man who has to suffer the consequences of pushing technology instead of paper onto his family humorously demonstrates how paper can never become obsolete.
Ikea - Red Lamp
This 2002 ad has become a classic of modern advertising. Its genius lies in establishing an emotional connection between the viewer and a lamp in less than a minute, only to pivot to a surprisingly hilarious ending. Don't feel too bad for the lamp though. He got his happy ending in Ikea's follow-up ad in 2018.
While there are plenty of iconic ads that stay with us for their catchy jingles or hilarious premise, every so often you come across one that makes you go “Huh?” Today, marketers have to ensure their brand stands out against a barrage of content on television and the internet. How do you cut through that white noise? Oddvertising, i.e., using surprising or downright strange settings to grab your audience’s attention. Here are some examples.
Mountain Dew - Puppy Monkey Baby
In 2016, the Mountain Dew marketing team decided to combine three of the internet’s favourite things—puppies, monkeys, and babies—for its Super Bowl commercial. Though bizarre, the ad was hugely successful. The sheer oddness of its premise and catchy techno jingle resonated with its target audience—young men in their early twenties to mid-thirties. It generated 2.2 million online views and 300,000 social media interactions just after airing, and was rated the #1 Super Bowl commercial that night.
Levis - Doctors
Directed by Spike Jonze, this ad opens with a bloody and battered patient in an emergency room. Doctors try to save him and as they pull off his mask, he begins singing as a beeping heart monitor and IV keep the beat. Soon the doctors join in, pausing only to jumpstart his heart. This weird commercial from iconic jeans brand Levis works because it employs techniques that appeal to a young target audience, including unexpected plots, humour, and retro music.
Calvin Klein - Obsession
Calvin Klein's "Obsession" series of ads from the 1980s were influenced by art-house cinema and the films of Ingmar Bergman. The result is footage that's highly stylized and intriguing but incomprehensible. One could argue that this was an intentional reference to how the world of haute couture is perceived. However, if you do embrace the bizarre for your ad, be careful not to alienate your audience.
Emotions play a significant part in the choices that consumers make. A brand can boost sales by telling a story that connects to its audience in a personal and human way. So how do you create an advertisement with an emotional connection? Research your target customer base and identify their critical motivators and then leverage your findings. Here are a few emotional commercials that have tugged at our heartstrings.
IAMS - A Boy and His Dog, Duck
This story of the unbreakable bond a young boy shares with his beloved pet dog will melt the hardest of hearts. The premise is something all animal lovers and pet owners can deeply relate too, and a perfect way to appeal to the pet food brand's target audience. According to IAMS, this was the strongest performing commercial in the brand's history.
Wrigleys - Sarah and Juan
Set to a haunting cover of Elvis Presley's classic hit "Can't Help Falling in Love With You", this ad is a masterclass on using emotional triggers to create a connection with consumers. It earned over 7 million YouTube views and more than 78 million Facebook views (with over 1.1 million shares) within a week of its digital release, even though it hit primetime TV only 10 days later.
Thai Life Insurance - Unsung Hero
A masterclass in emotional advertising from Ogilvy & Mather, this tearjerker tells us the tale of a young man who quietly performs good deeds. No one is able to understand why he does them until the end of the ad—cue the waterworks. Though targeted at Southeast Asia, the ad quickly went viral on the internet, earning over 6 million YouTube views, 800,000 Facebook shares, and 22,000 tweets in just a week.
Keep America Beautiful - The Crying Indian
This public service announcement from the '70s is one of the most iconic ads of all time. It features a Native American man who expresses his grief at the destruction of the environment caused by modern society. The camera zooms in on actor Iron Eyes Cody’s face to reveal a single tear falling down his cheek. For many Americans, Cody's face became synonymous with environmental idealism after the ad first aired.
Bonus - InVideo's Your Story
Each of us has a story to tell. At InVideo, we give you the tools to help you tell your story the best way possible because your story matters. Here's a commercial we created that really touched our customers. We love to share our success with you, so we've turned it into a template as well! Check the Your Story Matters template and use it to share your story.
Best Super Bowl commercials
According to estimates, about 18% of viewers who tune into the annual Super Bowl are more interested in the catchy commercials that air during breaks. This bounty of consumers available during the event has brands shelling out top dollar for a coveted spot. In 2020, all but one 30-second Super Bowl spot cost advertisers between $5 million to $5.6 million. Not every ad lives up to the hype but some go on to become a cultural phenomenon. Check out some of the most popular Super Bowl commercials.
Snickers - Betty White
Beloved comedian Betty White won hearts at the 2010 Superbowl with a memorable Snickers ad. She plays the alter-ego of a man who is having the worst luck playing football. He transforms back into himself after he eats a Snickers bar, but not before White throws a few hilarious insults at his teammates. The ad does a great job eliciting laughs and bringing home its message: "You're not yourself when you're hungry."
Apple - 1984
This controversial Apple ad first aired at the Super Bowl in 1984 and took inspiration from George Orwell's eponymous novel. Directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Ridley Scott, the ad has an ominous, dystopian tone to it, an unusual choice even today. The twist at the end cements its reputation as one of the best ads of all time. The company sold 90% more Macs than projected in the first 90 days following the ad’s airing.
Volkswagen - The Force
Pop culture references, a cute kid, and savvy marketing decisions turned this car ad into one of the best commercials of all time. Departing from convention, the car company decided to release a full-length version of the ad, which had been shortened for its pricey Super Bowl spot, on YouTube a few days earlier. The gamble paid off. By the next day, it had 1.8 million views on YouTube which went to 17 million before kickoff, according to figures by Deutsch. “The Force” is still the most shared Super Bowl ad of all time. Since its debut, other brands have also begun to expand their Super Bowl commercials into full-fledged marketing campaigns across platforms.
Monster.com - When I Grow Up
This 30-second black and white ad takes a dig at corporate America to convey its tagline: "There's a better job out there." It features kids talking about their career aspirations and appeals to its viewers' sense of nostalgia to remind them of the dreams they once had and push them to find something better—on-point branding for an online job portal.
EDS - Cat Herders
This Western-themed Super Bowl ad brings to life the managerial metaphor "It's like herding cats" that refers to the difficulty of aligning team efforts. It successfully takes a dry concept like data management and puts it into context in a funny and unexpected manner. 21 years on, the award-winning commercial remains one of the best ads of all time.
What makes for a great commercial?
Now that you've had plenty of inspiration, we're sure you're eager to try crafting your own advertisement. Before you get going, here are 8 tips to create an effective commercial that stands out from the crowd.
Tip #1 - Find a story worth telling
Remember, your commercial needs to paint a convincing picture that your audience can connect to. How do you do that? The first step is to know your target audience. Next, create a comprehensive storyboard with the characters and plot of your ad. Get started with our storyboard template here.
Tip #2 - Focus on the first 3 seconds
No matter the length of your ad, you have a few moments to grab your audience's attention. Make sure the first 3 seconds of your ad are compelling enough to convince a viewer to stick around till the end.
Tip #3 - Use customer data to perfect your script
Before you prepare your script, research your target audience. How do they usually speak? What phrases do they use? How would they describe your product? These insights will help you create a script that sounds natural. Check out our comprehensive, step-by-step guide to writing a video script.
Tip #4 - Include a memorable tagline or jingle
Think of ads you've found iconic. Chances are they all have a catchy jingle or smart taglines that have stayed with you for years. These tools can make it easy for your viewers to remember what you do, especially if laced with humour or an unexpected twist.
Tip #5 - Build on a theme or characters
Instead of making just one video ad, consider creating a series of videos or a larger advertising campaign that features recurring themes and characters. This can lead to greater brand recall.
Tip #6 - Use a good voiceover
The right voice can make or break your advertisement. When creating a voiceover for your ad, think about what the personality of your brand is, what voice represents that, and how it can be used to connect with your customers.
Tip #7 - Communicate a single message
The best ads are those that are clear and concise in their messaging. When creating a storyboard, identify the main message you wish to convey and stick to it. Communicating more than one message in an ad will only confuse your viewers.
Tip #8 - Include a call to action
It's important to identify what you want your audience to do next after they watch your commercial. Next, be sure to include a call to action that is in line with your goal at the end of your video.
The easiest way to make video commercials/ads for FREE
Inspiration? Check. Pro tips? Check. You're all set to make your own ad! And here's a secret: You don't need a huge budget or fancy equipment to craft an effective ad. With InVideo, you'll have access to tons of free templates, stock footage, and a super intuitive editor making it the easiest tool to create a video ad of any size, whether a short promo or a full-length advertisement. You can find and customise video ads from various categories to suit your brand.
What's more? They're suited to multiple platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Check out this tutorial to see the exact steps you can follow to access and use 5000+ free video templates:
We’d love to know which one of these popular commercials was your favourite. Let us know in the comments below. And If you want to dig deeper into how you can create video ads that sell, you should definitely check out this video.