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10 best commercials of 2023, ranked

Every year, advertisers pull out all the stops to try to find a new way to sell things to people. While those campaigns aren’t always a success, we get at least a few every year that are genuinely impressive.

These are the commercials that soared the highest during 2023 (and yes, many of them did come from the Super Bowl), reminding us all that while advertising is definitely designed to sell us stuff, it can also be a source of entertainment in its own right.

10. PopCorners, Breaking Bad

PopCorners Breaking Bad Super Bowl Commercial | Breaking Good 60

Asking celebrities to reprise the roles that made them famous can have disastrous results, but sometimes, it’s just brazen enough to work. In this particular case, it certainly helped that Breaking Bads Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston could pop right back into character and that PopCorners had a premise that worked as a solid stand-in for the show.

PopCorners may not actually be meth, but after you watch this ad, you’d be forgiven for getting a little confused, especially once Tuco shows up and starts calling them “tight.”

9. Dunkin’, Ben Affleck

Ben Affleck's Dunkin' Super Bowl (FULL Commercial) #BLUX

It’s kind of amazing that Ben Affleck didn’t get into advertising for Dunkin’ much sooner than he did, but 2023 was the year he went all in. His first ad, which features him working at a drive-thru where Jennifer Lopez is a customer, proves that Affleck remains an incredibly gifted comedian.

The genius of this ad is in its simplicity. Ben Affleck is simply helping customers get their orders and taking advantage of his native Boston accent in the process. Sometimes, all you need to do is hire a celebrity who is passionate about your brand and let them do their thing.

8. Pepsi, Great Acting

Great Acting or Great Taste? | Ben Stiller Studio Scene

It’s easy to forget that Ben Stiller is one of America’s great comedians, but he remains a very funny guy. In this spot, Stiller is tasked with taking on a number of iconic roles to show what a great and versatile actor he is.

He plays everyone from Thanos to Wall-E, but the spot ends with Stiller playing himself as he tastes a sip of Pepsi Zero and says that it “tastes great.” Is he a great actor, or is that the truth? I guess viewers will have to try the product for themselves to find out.

7. McDonald’s, Grimace’s Birthday

Grimace’s Birthday Milkshake - McDonald's commercial

The Grimace Shake in and of itself was a genius marketing ploy, but it was paired perfectly with an ad that focused on Grimace’s birthday celebrations at McDonald’s over the years.

Grimace has always been one of the most lovable members of McDonald’s cast of characters, so creating an entire campaign focused on him, and one that has a distinctly retro feel at that, was just what the doctor ordered. The Grimace Shake may have gone viral anyway, mostly because it’s purple, but this commercial certainly didn’t hurt.

6. Meow Wolf, Come Find Yourself at the Mall

Come Find Yourselfs at the Mall | Meow Wolf Grapevine

This ad for a Meow Wolf location in Grapevine is as trippy as actually going to a Meow Wolf and is, therefore, a perfect representation of what Meow Wolf offers to the public. The ad starts as an ’80s throwback about finding yourself at the mall, but as it goes in, things get stranger and stranger as all of the shoppers in matching jumpsuits converge on the Meow Wolf location.

The ad smartly doesn’t show you what actually happens inside Meow Wolf. That’s best left to the imagination, but if you find this ad intriguing or disturbing, Meow Wolf might be for you.

5. Ikea, Proudly Second Best

IKEA – Proudly Second Best

A genius campaign that chose to emphasize family, Ikea’s “Proudly second best” campaign highlighted specific pieces of furniture, while acknowledging that these pieces were always going to be second to a lap or a good snuggle. The campaign was targeted specifically at parents, and it was hugely successful because it put exactly the right amount of emphasis on Ikea as a brand.

In highlighting a high chair or a crib and then shifting focus to what really matters, Ikea made parents feel like Ikea could handle being ignored, at least for a little while.

4. Apple Music, Run This Town

“Run This Town” - The Road to Halftime Starts on Rihanna Drive | Apple Music

Not a Super Bowl ad, but an ad for the Super Bowl, Apple Music’s Run This Town ad was exactly the teaser we needed to get us excited for Rihanna’s Super Bowl halftime show. The video shows a girl in the Bahamas, a crucial reminder of where Rihanna came from and focuses on her travels down a single road.

The ad was clearly built in collaboration with the singer herself, who offers a closing message, explaining that her life was built on this road, but she had big dreams. With the Super Bowl halftime show, some of those dreams were fulfilled.

3. Uber, Best Friends

Best Friends - Uber One | Uber Eats

Reunions between celebrities can be great for advertising, but what’s often equally compelling is getting the most out of an odd pairing of stars. For Uber One’s campaign, they teamed Robert De Niro with Asa Butterfield, with Butterfield playing the younger actor eager to bond with his elder.

Butterfield ultimately connects with De Niro over the fact that they both like “eating food” and “going places,” and Butterfield realizes that he can use Uber One to do both of those things. It’s a charming, funny conceit that also extolls the virtues of the product it’s trying to sell us.

2. Tubi, Interface Interruption

Tubi Interface Interruption | Super Bowl

Its genius is in its simplicity. Tubi faked fans at this year’s Super Bowl out by pretending that the game was back from a commercial break, only for the ad to turn off the big game and move over to watch a movie on Tubi. It was an ad that confused many people when it first aired, and that was precisely the point.

Many great ads have been made to entice or to make you laugh, but this ad left many wondering if they had just seen what they thought they had seen. The game wasn’t back just yet, but Tubi was suddenly on many people’s radars in a major way.

1. Squarespace, The Singularity

The Singularity | Big Game Commercial 2023 | Squarespace

As Saturday Night Live has already proven, Adam Driver’s utter commitment and gravitas can actually make him a remarkably skilled comedic performer. In The Singularity, we see Driver reckoning with what it means that Squarespace is a website that can build websites, which theoretically means that it could be used to create itself.

Driver makes a meal out of every moment here, and the ad’s conceit is remarkably clever, partly because it turns the obvious pitch for Squarespace into a pretty elegant piece of comedy.

Editors' Recommendations

Joe Allen
Joe Allen is a freelance writer based in upstate New York focused on movies and TV.
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