As any fan of AMC's acclaimed television series “Mad Men” knows, advertising is an art form, as well as a high-stakes game. A 30-second 2019 Super Bowl spot cost $5.25 million, or $175,000 per second. Sure it's a lot of cash, but a worthwhile investment considering the spot reached an audience of about 110 million.
The best commercials are fresh and innovative. They may employ witty repartee, a heart-melting narrative, or a pitch from high-profile spokesperson. Whatever the formula, the goal is the same: convincing people to part with their hard-earned cash—whether through the purchase of a particular product, a political donation, or a charitable contribution.
Advertising has evolved over the years, notably with respect to the representation of women. In the early days of television, perky housewives peddled convenience foods and detergents. With the advent of feminism in the 1960s and ‘70s, advertisers targeted a new demographic: women with children to raise and careers to advance. More recently, gender stereotypes have been put under a particularly critical lens, resulting in Procter & Gamble's groundbreaking “Like a Girl” campaign, as well as Gillette's reinvention of its familiar catchphrase, “The best a man can get” in light of the “Me Too” movement.
Technology also has changed how advertisers target potential audiences. As opposed to gathering around the television after dinner like their parents and grandparents, millennials and members of Generation Z tend to consume content on demand, often on computers and handheld devices. Consequently, digital advertising has experienced double-digit growth in recent years while the traditional television market has declined.
Stacker tuned into the video archives and consulted newspaper and magazine articles to compile this slideshow of 50 ads that made television history. Scroll through the list to find out which politicians launched the nastiest campaign ads, which advertisers came up with the most infectious taglines, and which commercials were so brilliant they put even Don Draper to shame.