Classical Super Bowl Commercials

Friday, February 04, 2011 - 04:55 PM

It’s that time of year again where football fans gather around the television and breathlessly await the Super Bowl ads and half-time show. And, oh yes, I think there are some guys running around on the field butting heads as well.

In advance of this weekend's match-up between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers, below we’ve identified some previous Super Bowl ads that prominently feature symphonic music. And as a preview, we included one new spot that's already topped 6 million views on the Internet, giving it a huge head start in the annual race for Super Bowl commercial attention.

Enjoy. In the comments box below, post your own or share your thoughts on why classical music is often used to sell everything from cars to sandwiches to soda.

Volkswagon Commercial: The Force - Star Wars (2011)

Subway: Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture (2009)

Doritos: Bizet's Carmen (2007)

Coca Cola "Heist": Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf (2009)

Hyundai: Bach Cello Suites played by Yo-Yo Ma (2009)


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Comments [20]


I love these commercials. My two favorites are the darth vador and coca cola ones. They are so brilliant.

Feb. 23 2011 11:06 PM
Liz from Philly

I think the above discussion of what is and isn't "classical music" is indicative of what ails our country's classical music industry and symphonies in particular. Every attempt we, as audience members or musicians ourselves, make to narrow the field, making it more exclusive than it already feels to those who are not regular classical music listeners or concert-goers, is succeeding only in shooting ourselves in the foot. I like Mr Forrest's diplomatic clarification that symphonic music is music played by an orchestra.

Feb. 09 2011 09:28 AM
Nancy Ryan

John Williams is an accomplished contemporary American Classical composer of great renown and his music should be included in this genre. Kudos to the ad companies for exposing our Americans to some very needed Classical music experiences, hope the kids were listening too.

Feb. 07 2011 01:49 PM
Jan Schwartz from Vacaville, CA

Day After Follow-up : I noticed the "Dies Irae" from Verdi's Requiem, the ubiquitous "O Fortuna" from Carmina Burana, and the aforesaid "Star Wars". What did I miss?

Feb. 07 2011 12:14 PM
Alan from Astoria

Not sure if you mentioned this Coke ad, which uses the Sarabande from Handel's Suite in D Minor. (the commercial uses an arrangement of it).

Feb. 07 2011 09:34 AM
Michael Meltzer

A soundtrack can be "classical music" if it meets the standard of candidacy for immortality, like Prokofiev's "Alexander Nevsky" or Copland's "Our Town."
John Williams is a gifted man, but his work still has some distance to go.

Feb. 07 2011 12:49 AM

Clearly classical music has a great deal to say. I agree that Star Wars isn't classical music, but it's good music.

Feb. 06 2011 01:02 PM
rita scholl from N.J.

Interesting that there is classical music being used for these commercials. Good. Thanks Elliott.

Feb. 06 2011 12:33 PM
Jason Matthews from Truckee California

Love all of these but my personal favorite was the Godaddy one that got banned before its 2nd scheduled appearance -

Feb. 06 2011 11:55 AM
ShawnMichael from Mendham

The VW commercial made me is sooooooooo cute and true if you are child.
One of the most memorable.

Feb. 06 2011 11:53 AM

I agree... How is a Soundtrack classical music? Symphonic, yes, but classical? No.

Feb. 06 2011 11:24 AM
Jeff Sturgeon from LES

Gatorade did one of the better versions of the tried-and-true Carmina Burana ad in 2007. Not sure if it was for the Super Bowl:

Feb. 06 2011 10:21 AM
TAH from NYC

OK, how about a Rossini overture?

Feb. 06 2011 12:57 AM
DavidF from Brooklyn

The VW ad is great.
Today NY Times ran article about SuperBowl ads.
Friends at a Super Bowl party in Washington Heights look forward to the ads as part of the Super Bowl Event. Often an interesting break from the action.

Wish I could put my on 5 second ad for the Youtube video I recently made about how to make your own CHEESEHEAD HAT.

Ad would be

Make your own cheesehead hat.

For images and directions, visit:

A Green Bay Packer fan from Milwaukee now living in beautiful Brooklyn

Feb. 05 2011 04:58 PM

I like the VW ad. During the games, friends and I look forward to "good breaks" in the action. At the end of the game we usually share opinions about which ad was the best and why, and wonder what they will come up with next year.

Wish I could put my blurb below on just before the game -- how to make free Packer CHeesehead hats. Maybe it's aired only in Packer country --

Paste youtube URL into your browser window and click for photos and directions:

YouTube - GGreen Bay Packer Cheesehead Hat-Feb 2011-02-02-22 ... - 10:14am
Feb 2, 2011 ... Directions to make your own CHEESEHEAD hat from a piece of
yellow cardstock. Use it to cheer the Green Bay Packers at the Super Bowl.

Feb. 05 2011 04:51 PM
Saul Zalkin from UWS

The Volkswagon ad is absolutely precious. The best of the lot. That kid will talk about how "the force" started the car for months.

Feb. 05 2011 11:55 AM
Tim from Washington, DC

A nice idea for a timely feature for the wqxr web site, and fun commercials too. I put a link on my facebook page.

Feb. 05 2011 07:33 AM

Re: Star Wars. As you see I used the words "symphonic music" to cover all music played by an orchestra.

Feb. 05 2011 06:54 AM

Um... The "Star Wars" theme isn't 'classical' music.

Feb. 04 2011 10:41 PM
TAH from NYC

I don't know if it was a Super Bowl ad, but to me the beef ad w/ the Hoedown from Copland's Rodeo is *the* iconic ad w/ symphonic music.

Feb. 04 2011 09:49 PM

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