Do You Remember What These Most Famous Commercials of All-Time Were Selling?

By: Valerie
Image: YouTube

About This Quiz

Americans are exposed to a lot of commercials. A 2014 report by TVWeek found that the average network show includes 14 minutes and 15 seconds of advertising per hour, while the average cable program includes 15 minutes and 38 seconds of commercials. With a typical adult watching more than 5 hours of TV each day, according to Nielsen, that's easily an hour of straight ads going straight into your brain each day. While plenty of people swear they aren't effected by these ads, evidence suggests they are having more of an influence then you think. That's why companies are willing to spend an average of $112,000 for a 30-second spot on a prime-time network show - and much, much more for hit series or big events.

While the average commercial does its job of spreading brand awareness or letting consumers know about new products, some advertisements transcend typical, and become a part of pop culture history. The most successful ads turn into memes and catchphrases, helping us remember them years after they've aired.

Do you remember what commercial suggest as the cure discomfort after consuming a spicy meatball, or what concoction soothes Mean Joe Greene? Any idea why that pink bunny keeps going and going? More crucially, do you remember what these memorable commercials were actually selling? Take our quiz and see if you can identify the products associated with these commercials from just a single image!

The first Barbie commercial introduced a new type of doll in 1959. The sweet and innocent ad aired for the first time during The Mickey Mouse Club, the most popular TV show among kids at that time. On the same day, the first fashion doll was displayed at the American Toy Fair in New York City.

"I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Weiner..." - Do you remember this hit song? Chances are you still know the words to this one. A lot of kids in the '60s knew and loved this cute commercial; a lot of us still can sing this catchy song!

Mr. Owl and a kid who wasn't really wearing clothes (nobody knows why) can be still seen on TV after all these years. The simple but adorable animation and cute characters made this ad a part of a modern pop culture. Do you still wonder how many licks does it take to get the center of a Tootsie Roll Pop? A group of engineering students from Purdue University also wanted to find it out, so they invented the licking machine, modeled after a human tongue. It took an average of 364 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop!

Keep America Beautiful's “Crying Indian” is a great example of a memorable public service message. The scene where Cree Cherokee Iron Eyes Cody weeps at his beloved country overrun by pollution is unforgettable. By the way, the main actor Iron Eyes Cody (Espera Oscar de Corti) wasn’t a Native American, but his wife and their adopted children were.

Coca-Cola's “Mean Joe Greene” is one of earliest - and most popular - big-time “Super Bowl commercials." Released in 1979, it inspired countless parodies and remakes!

Back in 1980, American Tourister decided that the best way to prove the durability of their suitcases is to have a gorilla jump all over it. Actor Don McLeod played an ape wearing a $20,000 monkey suit with moving eyebrows. Adorable and simple, their "Gorilla" ad even won the Cleo Award in the '80s.

Energizer's "Escape of The Bunny" is a great example of a breakthrough advertising. First aired in 1989, this ad established Energizer batteries as an independent product, while a relentless pink hero became an important part of pop culture and a cultural cliche.

Alka Seltzer's "Spicy Meatball" became so popular because it's basically a commercial about making a commercial. The hilarious ad aired in 1969, and while its catchphrase "That’s a spicy meatball" could be heard anywhere, the commercial didn't boost sales. Why? Well, a lot of people thought that this line is from a spaghetti or pasta sauce commercial.

Everybody knows Wendy's famous ad “Where’s the Beef?”, but their "Russian Fashion Show" is an underappreciated masterpiece. While this $250,000 piece didn't get a lot of attention, it's one of the best - and extremely hilarious - Cold War piece since Dr. Strangelove.

Back in the '60s, Rice Krispies ran three opera-themed commercials remembered as some of the most popular commercials of all time. A lot of people still remember the famous lines - "No more Rice Krispies! We are out of Rice Krispies!"

Wendy's "Fluffy Bun" is by far the most recognizable commercial out there. A famous catchphrase “Where’s the Beef?” was introduced in 1984, and since then it became an all-purpose phrase question.

Directed by renowned Hollywood filmmaker Ridley Scott, Apple’s famous 1984 commercial turned Super Bowls ads into a real phenomenon. After a huge success of this ad, creating ads specifically for Super Bowl became a big thing.

This ad sold thousands of cars thanks to Joe Isuzu, a fictional salesman who helped ISUZU to enter the U.S. market. At that time, the brand had a small ad budget and was looking for a cheap but effective way to promote the Japanese cars in the US. The famous ad "Joe Isuzu/liar" was a big success - after it aired, Isuzu reported 18 percent spike in sales!

Max Headroom (played by Matt Frewer who was wearing a latex mask) was already a well-known talk-show host when Coca-Cola made him their new symbol. Headroom’s sarcasm and the quality of visuals got the attention of viewers, but the new product wasn't a big hit.

California Raisins, a fictional music band composed of...well, raisins, was first introduced in 1987. The original concept and catchy songs sung by musician Buddy Miles made these wrinkled musicians really popular in the US. The agency executive claimed that this band of dried fruits even had their own fan club!

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America released their famous commercial “Fried Egg” back in 1987. The message was simple yet powerful: “This is your brain,” the announcer said at an undamaged egg. “This is your brain on drugs", he then said at a sizzling one.

Cracker Jack is a mix of caramel flavored popcorn and peanuts with a small prize inside. The actor Jack Gilford did more than 25 Cracker Jack ads in total, but his long-running spot "Train" became one of the most popular commercial in the '60s.

Nissan created their most popular spot "Toys" in 1996. Later, they admitted that the same commercial with real people could look "a little bit chauvinistic", but with stop-motion dolls, it looks more like a shorter and funnier version of "Toy Story".

The pizza companies always want to highlight how cheesy their pizza is. Little Caesars (remember their famous tagline “Cheeser, cheeser”?) were not an exception. We bet you've seen their cute and hilarious ad "High Chair" that shows the mozzarella that is so stringy, it propels a smiling baby and her high chair from a dining room to front yard.

Some people know only the company's mascot, the GEICO gecko, but the GEICO "Cavemen" campaign, first aired in 2004, was equally successful. Both ad campaigns were developed by The Martin Agency and are well known for their smart, refreshing humor and satire.

'Make the Holidays a Treat' is a 2015 ad for famous marshmallow treats that offered a fresh spin on making Rice Krispies treats during the holiday season. It also introduced a new memorable jingle and showed that the brand's focused shifted from cereal to treats.

Just like GEICO uses a lizard in their commercials, AFLAC stars the white Pekin duck in their ads. Both insurance companies created successful and memorable ad campaigns that regularly attract new customers.

Jell-o and their "Weird Harold" campaign basically revived Bill Cosby's career. He did over 80 spots centered on an Old Weird Harold story before he got a role of the goofy dad in The Cosby Show.

Progressive Insurance used a fictional saleswoman "Flo" 94 times in their ads. However, not long ago, they launched a new ad campaign that did not feature their ever-present car insurance saleswoman. Why? According to Progressive, they decided to change their ad campaign in attempt to humanize a brand and appeal to Millennials. This spot, called “The Thread”, supposed to show the humanity of their brand and honest, dedicated people who work for the company.

Snickers ' 2010 Super Bowl commercial helped a 88-year-old actress Betty White to revive her struggling career. The spot was released before the famous "You’re not you when you’re hungry” campaign, but became a viral hit in its own right.

The beer company Dos Equis is famous for branding the "most interesting man in the world". This brand strategy is extremely effective, but not long ago the brand decided to replace the iconic character. The new "most interesting man" is a 41-year-old French actor Augustin Legrand.

"Puppy Love" ad once again proved that adorable fluffy animals and a touching message is a winning combination that can be used to promote anything, even beer. This sweet love story that features a cute golden retriever puppy was the most popular Super Bowl ad in 2014.

Milk-is-good-for-you ads are not working anymore, so big dairy companies have to be creative. “Aaron Burr” is a part of the Got Milk? advertising campaign that encourages people to drink more cow's milk, but it's not your usual commercial.

Creative agencies love creating car commercials. And viewers love to watch them. Thanks to the auto industry's disturbingly large budgets, car commercials are always among the best. Nissan 300ZX ad looks both as a Hollywood blockbuster and car commercial for a reason - it was directed by Ridley Scott. Yes, the guy who did Aliens.

The big companies are still debating whether or not a brand’s advertising should show its competitor’s products, even though it became a pretty common strategy over the years. However, back in the '90s, Pepsi took a big risk with their "Delivery Guys"ad that showed two guys fighting over a glass of Pepsi-Cola.

"Live the Flavor" ad became the first consumer-created ad to air during a Super Bowl that started Doritos' famous "Crash the Super Bowl” campaign. The idea behind it was simple yet genius - the brand asked their most loyal customers to become a part of the commercial.

A British brand of cigarettes, Benson & Hedges are well known among smokers in the US. The iconic cigarettes usually come in a gold package (even though other colors like silver, white, or black are also available in some countries). The luxury color association reflects in their ad campaigns as well. Since the '80s, B&H ads can be seen anywhere from a formula one racing to ice rink.

Chrysler's Super Bowl ad "Imported from Detroit" was not just selling cars, it was also celebrating American auto industry, Detroit, and Chrysler's comeback. Even though it was released in 2011, this commercial's main theme continues to resonate with the audience.

There were so many classic Air Jordan TV and print ads that it's hard to choose the best one. Air Jordans changed the sneaker—and ad—game. Launched in the '80s, they introduced a new kind of shoes that are still popular nowadays, more than three decades later.

Even though Marlboro brand was initially a women's cigarette brand, it gradually became more focused on men. Marlboro's 1967 ad "Foggy Morning", featuring the tight-lipped Marlboro Man, is a great example how the brand tried to appeal to male audience. After all, what can be more masculine than a cowboy?

The iconic "Get a Mac" campaign ran from 2006 to 2009; each ad followed the standard template featuring a man dressed in casual clothes ("Mac") and a main in a suit ("PC) talking against a simple all-white background. There is no doubt that Steve Jobs was great at selling, whether on a stage, in person, or on TV, in the form of a minimalist yet powerful advertising campaigns.

What can be more touching than a birthday surprise party for a 100-year-old woman? The now-deceased Fannie Peterson, a.k.a. “Ma Pete" made this commercial even more memorable, while the punchline “She’s actually 101” became an all-purpose phrase. Hallmark always knew how to deliver its message.

Most sports ads take an motivational or moving route, showing a famous athlete or some inspiration story, but Nike's hilarious spot "Hang Time" is different - it's light, funny, and simple. The first commercial, released in 1989, was a part of the 10-part series and made Air Jordan No. 1 sneakers in America.

"Boy Meets Impala" is a commercial that perfectly described the American Dream. It was an innovative ad for the narration-heavy ’50s - this commercial with a then huge budget (around $1 million!) contained 21 words and only simple, three-word sentences.

Meow Mix is one of the biggest brands of dry and wet cat food, well known for its catchy advertising jingle. The 1972 commercial "Singing Cat" where a feline is singing those memorable lyrics was silly yet powerful - especially compared to the whinings of cat Morris, the main rival of Meow Mix.

Michael J. Fox was so convincing in the first Diet Pepsi ad "Apartment 10G" that he got a $2 million a year, three-spot deal right after filming the first commercial. His costar Gail O’Grady also became famous thanks to that short yet brilliantly filmed spot.

Even when AT&T was a monopoly, they never failed to create a memorable, moving, and touching ad to promote their mobile services. "Joey called" is one of their first commercials that shows a grown son calling his aging mother just to say that he loves her.

In 1983, Unilever introduced Snuggle, a new brand of fabric softener created to challenge Procter & Gamble's Downy, the leader in this segment. Downy was around since the '60s, but Snuggle was cheaper and had a secret weapon - a cuddly and cute Snuggle Bear.

Stan Freberg was the first to introduce sarcasm and skepticism to TV ads, and his spot "Today the pits..." for Sunsweet Prunes was not an exception. In fact, this commercial is the best example of his soft-sell philosophy that also boosted Prune sales and increased the company's revenue by an average of 400 percent.

Before the tagline "Today, for tomorrow" there was a brilliant spot called "Old Russians". Filmed in Soviet Georgia, it shows real people in their 80s or 90s, while the voice-over says “In Soviet Georgia, where they eat a lot of yogurt, a lot of people live past 100.”

McDonald’s released their well-known spot "Clean" in 1971 to highlight their image as a spotless, kid-friendly restaurant chain. A lot changed since then, but the theme song from this ad, “You Deserve a Break Today", can be still heard on a TV or radio.

IKEA is more than just a store - it's a cultural phenomenon. So far, their "Dining Room" is one of their most popular commercials simply because it was the first (and so far only) major ad that casually portrayed a gay couple.

The absurd commercial "Doctors" uses a scene in an emergency room and a huge hit "Tainted Love" to praise new Levi's Wide Leg jeans. It was a wild yet successful spot by Levi's that got a lot of attention, yet failed to deliver its message.

The first Nike commercial featuring a soon-to-be successful duo of Hare Jordan and Air Jordan was released in 1992. This innovative and eye-catching spot, featuring Michael Jordan and a cartoon bunny, also became famous for blending real-world footage with cartoon images.

E-Trade is a well-known online platform for digital day-trading and also one of the first brands to break the fourth wall of Super Bowl ad. Their expensive and extremely hilarious ad features a dancing monkey that wears a T-shirt with a logo of the company. The ad got a lot of attention for two reasons: it not only ridiculed the cost of Super Bowl advertising, but also promoted the brand's message - spend your money wisely and make the most out of your earnings.

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