The Super Bowl teams were just set last month, but advertisers have long been gearing up for the big game. In fact, ad slots are so coveted that companies are putting up a record $5 million for them this year (and, according to CBS, those slots were already all booked up back in November).
It's not hard to imagine why brands care so much about the Super Bowl. A record 114 million viewers tuned in to the game last year. Since 2006, the event has fetched as much as $2.38 billion in television network sales.
The best ads of all time took viewers on an emotional journey, as recent data from TiVo suggests. The television recording company partnered with the research and consulting division of Vision Critical, a cloud-based research firm, to analyze second-by-second viewership activity. They used that data to rank the top ads from the past 50 years.
The study notes that commercials tugging on heartstrings (puppies or children, specifically) have managed to grab the most attention over the years. Still, from the number of times that Doritos ads appear in the top 10 (three), it's clear that humor plays a significant role too.
It's also worth noting that beer and snack advertisers have had the most popular reels in the top 100, although a variety of companies from different sectors are usually represented on screen.
Below are the most popular Super Bowl commercials of all time:
10. "Designated Driver" (Budweiser, 2012)
The 30-second clip attracted eyeballs thanks in large part to its celebrity protagonist, Cedric the Entertainer.
9. "Cowboy Kid" (Doritos, 2014)
Doritos used both of the big Super Bowl tropes--children and animals--in this slapstick, 30-second advertisement.
8. "Pug Attack" (Doritos, 2011)
You'll never look at pugs -- or goading boyfriends -- the same way again. Doritos' 30-second reel in 2011 was the eighth most-popular commercial of all time.
7. "You're Not You" (Snickers, 2010)
Featuring the actress Betty White, this Snickers commercial became the first in a series of "you're not you" installments.
6. "9/11" (Budweiser, 2011)
Though it aired only once, Budweiser's 2011 tribute to 9/11 -- featuring Clydesdales passing the Statue of Liberty, crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, and then bowing before the New York cityscape -- was the sixth-most popular Super Bowl commercial ever.
5. "Sling Baby" (Doritos, 2012)
The snack company's 2012 Super Bowl ad was also a big crowd pleaser.
4. "Mean Joe Greene" (Coca-Cola, 1979)
In this classic ad, an adoring child fan offers professional football player Joe Greene his bottle of coke--for which he's rewarded with a football jersey. It is so iconic, in fact, that Greene and the actor who played the child, Tommy Okon, have reunited this year to do a promotional video for the "Super Bowl's Greatest Commercials 2016" CBS television special.
3. "The Force" (Volkswagen Passat, 2011)
The German automaker seized on the popularity of the Star Wars franchise to create "The Force," an ad that features a child dressed up as Darth Vader, who attempts to move things with his mind.
2. "Lost Dog" (Budweiser, 2015)
This commercial from last year was a tearjerker. In "Lost Dog," a Labrador puppy struggles to find his way home.
1. "Puppy Love" (Budweiser, 2015)
The most popular Super Bowl commercial of all time has it all: Pathos, triumph, "vintage Americana" and, of course, puppies.
Despite the popularity of the puppy trope, however, Budweiser says it plans to go in new directions, since the ads had failed to boost sales significantly enough.
"Budweiser aired two very different spots in last February's Super Bowl, and we learned that content focused on the quality of our beer was most effective in generating sales," said Jorn Socquet, a U.S. VP-marketing for A-B INBev, in a statement to AdAge in November.