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Bomb, Blitz, Fumble, or Pass - Super Bowl Ads Go Long
January 29, 2009 10:11 AM   Subscribe

It's time to get ready for the Super Bowl... Ads! Adland has freely available archives of 37 years of commercials from the big game, over 2,800 ads - from 1969, when Winston, Salem, Camel, Tareyton, Pall Mall, and Silva Thins smoked up the Bowl *cough-cough*, all the way to 2008, when the best-liked ad was Bud's dalmation inspiration (how do we know it was best liked? SCIENCE!). Some highlights of the collection include:

1969 - Shall we take bets on the least expensively produced Super Bowl ad ever? I'll put my money on Gillette's Techmatic razor ad, but it's also cute and clever, and a great example of vintage animation of the period.

1973 - In what was probably the first Super Bowl "superstar" ad, "Broadway" Joe Namath is so excited
because he's "gonna get creamed" by Farrah Fawcett. This is a landmark ad, and the only pre-'90s entry to appear on MSNBC's list of Sleaziest Super Bowl Ads of all time.

1980 - Scary-scary Mean Joe Green melted hearts with his "Hey Kid" Coca Cola ad, which weighs in at #1 on Gawker's list of most memorable Super Bowl ads, though ESPN claims it never debuted during a Super Bowl (see bottom note). This ad was such a winner that Coca Cola hopes to recreate the magic this year with a remake, featuring Coke Zero and Pittsburgh Steeler Troy Polamalu.

1984 - Apple's 1984 ad is certainly one of the most famous Super Bowl ads ever - and also one of the most expensive advertisements in television history, with with a budget of $900,000. It clocks in at #1 on a bevy of lists of best Super Bowl ads.

1994 - With his Wavy Lays ad poor Dan Quayle proved no more exciting in marketing than he was in politics, showing up on this list of television's most forgettable Super Bowl ads. zzzzzzzz.

1999 - A former Miss USA heats up the game with Ali Landry's 1999 Doritos ad, voted by Spike as number one in its list of Sexiest Super Bowl ads. This year also featured the offensive Kenyan Runner ad, called "the ad from hell" by Salon, and voted by Adland as number one on their list of the worst Super Bowl ads ever.

2007 - CGI wins the day with Coca Cola's Happiness Factory ad, chosen by DVICE as number one in its top 10 list of Super Bowl commercials featuring technology.

2008 - While now-President Barack Obama's regional campaign ad made history, Audi's Godfather ad got a heads-up on a lot of lists as #1 for the year, and Tide cleaned up with a (previously) Cannes award-winning spot.

So... with the economic situation looking fairly desperate, can we expect 2009 Super Bowl ads to be fewer and less dazzling? Well... apparently, no? BloggingStocks says 2009 Bowl ad sales are strong (or are they?), and MSNBC reports that at $3 million, Super Bowl ad time is ... cheap? Either way, the Wall Street Journal advises Super Bowl ad-watching as stock strategy, and all we know for sure is that we won't be seeing PETA's Vegetarians Have Better Sex ad.
posted by taz (40 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
oh, and ps: Adland and this rather heroic archive effort is from "Metafilter's own" dabitch.
posted by taz at 10:17 AM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


American ads suck.
posted by Zambrano at 10:18 AM on January 29, 2009


My google-fu fails me, because I don't remember what it was for, but there is a radio ad out now featuring Peyton Manning that's a spoof of the Mean Joe commercial. Peyton tosses a practice jersey to a kid who is not impressed that it's sweat-soaked and 'gross.'
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:25 AM on January 29, 2009


American ads suck.

Well come on, you probably think that American ads are actually psychosom...

Ali Landry's 1999 Doritos ad, voted by Spike as number one in its list of Sexiest Super Bowl ads

I withdraw my objection.
posted by DU at 10:26 AM on January 29, 2009


Last time I linked to adland in a MeFi post dabitch got to purr and pet over her server. Let's watch what happens now!

Great post taz.
posted by WolfDaddy at 10:35 AM on January 29, 2009


What will Puppy Bowl have in store for us this year? I hope it's puppies!
posted by Artw at 11:00 AM on January 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh, I bet there will be a bunch of beer and Pepsi ads, plus a bunch of ads aimed at advertising and sales people by shitty dot-coms!

The whole concept of "superbowl ads" is idiotic. The ads are banal and mostly aimed morons.
posted by delmoi at 11:07 AM on January 29, 2009


I'm always amazed that 24 years later that Mac introduction ad still describes the brand image and/or appeal of Apple. (I'm also surprised how rarely people mention the bouncing boobs, which are undoubtedly part of its appeal -- they're certainly more prominent than anything in the Ali Landry ads!) Itr's one of the few individual ads with its own Wikipedia entry.

Looking back I see the humor of the Kenyan runner ad "as intended", but they sure did fail in execution. There would have been so many ways, as the Salon article points out, to give it a postmodern "knowing" level.

I guess I don't see what's "sleazy" about the Farrah/Namath ad, except as a relic. There were so many ads almost as silly back in the pre-feminist era. Women were routinely portrayed as cooing sex kittens in movies and television shows (the Mary Tyler Moore show was revolutionary), just perhaps not this extreme. It was the 1970s when ads switched over to a "dumb husband/aggrieved wife" narrative. But sheesh, you don't even see Farrah's body, which is what she was famous for.

I think the Mean Joe Green ad derived its power from the rough-and-tumble image he had, and that's not clear today except in the abstract. The NFL really pushes players to do a lot of community-service types of image softening these days so it's not as unusual. Of course, one is today struck at the public access to the "secure" part of the stadium (probably exaggerated even then) and the startling worry that he might be throwing the kid a glass bottle.
posted by dhartung at 11:12 AM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


The one that's stuck with me is this Etrade ad. Although I only remember the wasting money bit, not the pitch, making it minus for the company in my head. I wonder if you could get away with it nowadays, post dot-com bust.
posted by Hactar at 11:12 AM on January 29, 2009


I'm always amazed that 24 years later that Mac introduction ad still describes the brand image and/or appeal of Apple.

Yeah, rebel against the man by buying consumer items that are more expensive and more locked down then the competition!
posted by delmoi at 11:16 AM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


The whole concept of "superbowl ads" is idiotic.

Yes, getting your brand out there in front of one of the year's most watched events makes no sense at all.

Also, I like the iconoclasm of noticing that most of the ads are banal. However, I'm a little offended that you assert that they are mostly aimed [at] morons. Speaking as a moron who enjoys Superbowl ads, I can only mumble inarticulately and shake my caveman head with resentment.
posted by Skot at 11:17 AM on January 29, 2009


What, no EDS?
posted by Dipsomaniac at 11:21 AM on January 29, 2009


Speaking as a moron who enjoys Superbowl ads

Yeah, but are you more likely to buy a product because you saw an awesome ad for it? I like Superbowl ads, too, but I don't buy too many products that advertise, and increasing my brand recognition won't change that. Those ads aren't targeted at me.

Although I saw a Gold Bond lotion ad the other day--while I was delirious with a stomach bug--that spoke to me. This dude's back was so dry and itchy... man, that's just like me. I need me some of that Gold Bond stuff. I wonder if there's a store-brand version.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:24 AM on January 29, 2009


I'll be watching the Super Bowl on the ad-free, illegal to watch without a license BBC

Communism Baby Yeah!
posted by fullerine at 11:25 AM on January 29, 2009


The ads are...mostly aimed morons.

I.e. aired during the Superbowl.
posted by DU at 11:25 AM on January 29, 2009


That Wavy Lays chips also features a startlingly young hobbit.
posted by graventy at 11:33 AM on January 29, 2009


Bob? Bob Johnson?

*snicker*
posted by lysdexic at 11:38 AM on January 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


to a creative at an ad agency getting an ad into the superbowl used to be the ultimate reward. do great there and you could go anywhere. the phone would ring off the hook for weeks and you'd get messages from people who you met once ten years earlier. people like cliff freeman build entire agencies on single commercials. those were the expectations the old guys raised in us, that's what the ad schools all told us, that's how it was done. with the media environment so drastically changed that isn't all that true anymore but it's still something special when you make it on there, go to a bar and listen to some frat boys acting out that awesome commercial they have no idea the guy sitting next to them came up with at three a.m. on the toilet. that's a few years in the past. last year's superbowl ads sucked. I'm pleased to see wk is doing well this year.
posted by krautland at 11:39 AM on January 29, 2009


The ads are...mostly aimed morons.

I.e. aired during the Superbowl.


Yay, I was also waiting for this! Football fans are all bottomlessly stupid! Thread's over!

I'm kidding. Carry on. We can do this in Mad Lib form if you want.

"Not that I watch dumbhead television in the first place, but if I did, the last thing I would watch would be evil advertisements. Surely only wife-beaters and football enthusiasts can stand those."
posted by Skot at 11:43 AM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Coca Cola hopes to recreate the magic this year with a remake, featuring Coke Zero and Pittsburgh Steeler Troy Polamalu. - Ugh. Err, Mean Joe Green shot first?!!?!?!?!?!
posted by Mister_A at 12:08 PM on January 29, 2009


That Wavy Lays chips also features a startlingly young hobbit.

Barely into his tweens, no doubt.
posted by dhartung at 12:13 PM on January 29, 2009


Yay, I was also waiting for this! Football fans are all bottomlessly stupid! Thread's over!

BoingBoing went and beat the Blue to this conclusion by a few days. I only read about 2/3 of the comments since 1/3 of my vision was obscured by my palm.
posted by Spatch at 12:15 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


That Kenya ad is so very wrong. Stupid super-bowl prude committee is a-OK with vile racist imagery but not a little healthy titillation.
posted by Mister_A at 12:16 PM on January 29, 2009


Ehh, I was wondering when the PeTA ad would hit the blue, and how the MeFi hivemind would handle the cognitive dissonance between the competing values of "PeTA sucks" and "ohhh, boobies!"
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:17 PM on January 29, 2009


Superbowl ads, eh?

I only watch commercials during the Curling Championships.

SWEEP! SWEEP!
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 12:22 PM on January 29, 2009


Studies show... omnivores eat tastier meals.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:23 PM on January 29, 2009


... a remake, featuring Coke Zero and Pittsburgh Steeler Troy Polamalu.

I'm sort of scratching my head trying to figure out how this will work, Green was famous for being grumpy (thus his name) but Troy is a giant puppy of a guy. He's as famous around here for being a quiet family guy and devout Orthodox Catholic as he is for being a great free safety. It was a neat twist in the old commercial for Green to give the kid the shirt because it seemed so unlikely, is the twist in the new one going to be for Polamalu to kick the kid and pour Coke Zero on his head?
posted by octothorpe at 12:37 PM on January 29, 2009


Yeah, I mean Green's first name is Mean! That's why it worked! Cuz he's mean!
posted by Mister_A at 12:53 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


But will Troy Polamalu also recreate the awesome outtakes?

After typing out the above, I went on a search for said outtakes, which are about what you'd expect of someone who has to chug a bottle of fizzy drink and then talk, namely getting to hear Mean Joe Green belch out his lines, but sadly they are unavailable on YouTube, Google Video or Vimeo. The internet has let me down yet again. *sigh*
posted by 1f2frfbf at 12:57 PM on January 29, 2009


That's Elijah Wood (y'know, Frodo?) in that Wavy Lays ad.

Ah, how the mighty have ... err ... well, not quite *grown*.
posted by 5MeoCMP at 2:14 PM on January 29, 2009


(hoo boy, beaten twice to the punch. more previews in my future)
posted by 5MeoCMP at 2:25 PM on January 29, 2009


WolfDaddy, clearly I had to take that old machine out back and put it out of its misery, so I did. Doing much better now thanks. ;)

Remember when the clydesdales bowed their heads to the Manhattan skyline in 2002? I wonder which ad will be the violin-strings pulling one this year.

Great post Taz, I love how you've dug up the old cigarette commercials. The really old ads are fun as they say things like "maybe I am whacked out" when he watches mint grow in his shaving cream, and then there's the guy who gets bitten by a clamato.
I admit it. I love ads. I don't think there is a cure.
posted by dabitch at 4:39 PM on January 29, 2009


I don't think people who watch the superbowl are all morons, but the ads are clearly aimed at morons. Just watch them, they're idiotic cliche ridden messes. Ad execs clearly think Superbowl watchers are idiots, but there's no reason to think that perception is correct.
posted by delmoi at 10:57 PM on January 29, 2009


I find it interesting, who is the target out of 90.7 million viewers and are they sophomoric morons or not? When you look at popular vote you wonder, take the USAToday superbowl ratings, they have things like the flatulent horse Bud Light ad winning the popular vote - meanwhile over at adland, which is mainly frequented by creatives, students and people who just really like ads in general, it has a crummy 1.7 rating out of 5.

So, the people who create ads for a living hate it, you guys hate it (probably), then where are these folks that really really like it? And do they drink Bud Light? :)
posted by dabitch at 1:56 AM on January 30, 2009


I didn't link to them in this post because it's over-long to begin with (and I'm much too lazy to do it now plus, drinking. yay!), but there are lots of articles about how a lot of people watch the Super Bowl mainly for the ads, which seems crazy. But then again, not. In one form or another advertising has always been with us, and probably always will until we evolve into another form entirely - and having a keen eye for what forms it takes and what messages are predominate at any given time is not a bad thing. In fact, pretty much all historic data is interesting to me, but I'll take graffiti and advertising right off the top to get a quick, concrete, thumbnail idea of what the zeitgeist is like at any particular point. In my view, it's too bad that so little of this has been preserved from antiquity.

You don't have to love advertising to also find it fascinating or educational in ways not necessarily intended by the advertiser.
posted by taz at 2:53 AM on January 30, 2009


Apparently Joe Namath is always drunk (or high).

I'm not a huge fan of Peyton Manning as a player, but I love him as a spokesman. He's a goober, he knows he's a goober, and he makes self-deprecating ads like the recent one where he gets taunted by hotel employees.
[Manning and bellhop on an elevator]
"You're goin' down, Manning."
"That's right, I am. Fourth floor, get a massage today. I'm excited!"
Audi's Godfather ad got a heads-up

I see what you did there.
posted by kirkaracha at 8:00 AM on January 30, 2009


This was my favorite. (because I edited it)
posted by DaddyNewt at 10:12 AM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


This ad was such a winner that Coca Cola hopes to recreate the magic this year with a remake, featuring Coke Zero and Pittsburgh Steeler Troy Polamalu.

"[spoiler alert]" next time, please!
posted by ericbop at 11:20 AM on January 30, 2009


So, the people who create ads for a living hate it

that's not right. we just hate it when something had potential but came out sucking.
posted by krautland at 2:07 PM on January 30, 2009


True.
[insert beer brand logo here]
posted by dabitch at 8:14 AM on January 31, 2009


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