This was the eighth Super Bowl of the 21st century, but if you were only paying attention to the commercials, you might have thought it was the 1970s, ’80s or ’90s.
It wasn’t just older themes that played during the between-plays breaks in Super Bowl XLII, such as Budweiser’s Dalmatians and Clydesdales, which have been commercial stars during the big game for decades. Sunday’s Super Bowl ads also referred to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” the Andrea True disco song “More, More, More” and the “Saturday Night Live” skit that led to the 1998 movie “A Night at the Roxbury.” And that was just in the first half.
The 1973 Super Bowl has become a frequent point of reference this year because Super Bowl VII, played Jan. 14 at Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, was the game in which the Miami Dolphins became the first team in modern pro football history to finish a season undefeated.
Their 14-7 win over the Washington Redskins, despite placekicker Garo Yepremian throwing the worst pass in Super Bowl History, gave them a 17-0 record – the record being challenged Sunday by the New England Patriots, who would with a victory over the Giants finish 19-0.
But the 1973 Super Bowl also marked another historic milestone: the commercial that many feel planted the seed for what Super Bowl ads have become today.
Anheuser-Busch spent about $2.7M a pop on nine ads in this year’s Super Bowl – with seven of the spots devoted to Bud Light.The lineups are just about set for Super Bowl Sunday – not on the field, but for the glitzy, star-studded TV commercials that will cost close to $3 million apiece.
“The advertisers this year have learned how to do it,” says Walter Guarino, advertising professor at Seton Hall University. “They’ll keep it light and humorous, and I think it will be a real good year.”
Like Eli Manning and Tom Brady on the field, Super Bowl legend Justin Timberlake will lead a team of stars through 63 ad spots with an airtime tab that will run about $175 million.
Strong economic times can result in a bounty of good Super Bowl ads. Janet Jackson’s exposed breast is a Super Bowl commercial killer. And venture capitalist money equals offbeat and funny — at least when it comes to the memorable dot-com advertisements of the late 1990s and 2000.
That was arguably the best era for Super Bowl ads, but there were other boom times as well — which, coincidence or not, often seem to come when confidence in the economy is rising. The landmark Apple “1984” commercial highlighted one of the best Super Bowls for ad-watchers, and the Reaganomics-fueled years that followed were stocked with plenty of clever spots as well.
Thirty-four years ago this month, Farrah Fawcett sensuously applied Noxzema to Joe Namath’s manly chin — touching off an escalating arms race of expensive Super Bowl commercials that have frequently been more entertaining than the games.
Last year, advertisers weren’t shy about spending $2.5 million on a 30-second commercial, but only the Budweiser “Magic Fridge” commercial came within striking distance of our Top 10 list.
Below are the best Super Bowl commercials of all time, the keys to their success and the prospects of the company after the spot aired. As you can see, just because people are still talking about an ad more than 20 years later doesn’t mean the product changed the world:
10. Budweiser “Frogs” (1995)
9. Xerox “Monks” (1977)
8. Tabasco “Mosquito” (1998)
7. Electronic Data Systems “Herding Cats” (2000)
6. McDonald’s “The Showdown” (1993)
5. Monster.com “When I Grow Up …” (1999)
4. Reebok “Terry Tate: Office Linebacker” (2003)
3. E*Trade “Monkey” (2000)
2. Coke “Mean Joe Greene” (1979)
1. Apple “1984” (1984)
“The Super Bowl ads are better than the game.”
No doubt you’ve heard at least one friend or relative make that statement, usually after a few drinks, a large gambling loss or a horrible set of Super Bowl events that mock the sports gods — such as Washington quarterback Mark Rypien being named MVP.
But have we really reached the point where commercials have become more entertaining than the sporting event that surrounds them?
Is a Super Bowl commercial worth it?
Blue-chip companies such as Anheuser-Busch (Charts), Pepsico (Charts), Coca-Cola (Charts) and General Motors (Charts), as well as smaller firms like GPS navigation system maker Garmin, online lead generator Salesgenie.com and privately held Web registrar GoDaddy.com are all rolling the dice with Super Bowl ads this year.
CBS (Charts), the network that will be airing Super Bowl XLI on February 4, is said to be charging as much as $2.6 million for a thirty-second spot. Add on the costs to produce the commercials (which could also approach the multi-million dollar ballpark) and investing in the game is an expensive proposition.
A panel of advertising experts debated whether or not Super Bowl ads made financial sense at an event sponsored by news agency Reuters in New York Wednesday.
Now that the matchup on the field is set for Super Bowl XLI, the lineup for advertisers for the game is also filling up.
Announcing Wednesday that they will join about a dozen already planning to suit up for advertising’s biggest game will be beverage giant Coca-Cola, sales lead website Salesgenie.com and GPS device maker Garmin. Drug company King Pharmaceuticals said earlier this week that it will advertise during the game on CBS on Feb. 4.
Last year, Coke bought ads in the pre-game show and its energy drink Full Throttle sponsored the kickoff, but it has let rival Pepsi have the game to itself for cola ads since 1998. Its advertising this year in the game will be for its flagship Coca-Cola brand.
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/07/business/media/07adcol.html By STUART ELLIOTT Published: February 7, 2005 It may be hard to say, and harder to believe, but Madison Avenue could owe Janet Jackson a big thank-you. The commercials that were broadcast on Fox last night during Super Bowl XXXIX were, in general, markedly better than typical spots from the last few Super Bowls – though there were some…
http://www.adweek.com/aw/regional/west/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1000789762 By Gregory Solman LOS ANGELES A study of Super Bowl advertising effectiveness shows that movies marketed during the big game perform 40 percent better at the box office than films that are not. The report by Rama Yelkur, Chuck Tomkovick and Patty Traczyk, of the marketing department of the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, was first published in the…
http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?BRD=1282&dept_id=182122&newsid=13891599&PAG=461&rfi=9 By BRIAN KRASMAN, Daily News Editor While many viewers tune into the Super Bowl to see the actual football game, just as many, if not more, watch to see the advertisements. It’s probably the only day of the year when television remote controls are not in use, because no one appears willing to turn off the game and miss…
http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story.asp?guid=%7B6668C84A%2D45A0%2D4E95%2DA912%2DFFE055FA76C9%7D&dist=rss&siteid=mktw By William Spain, MarketWatch CHICAGO (MarketWatch) — Behind all the hype about the high cost and the battle for creative dominance lies the big question about the big game: Is spending zillions of dollars to produce and air ads during the Super Bowl a savvy investment, or a punt of no return? Or is it both? Figuring out the…
http://www.sportsbusinessnews.com/index.asp?story_id=43884 Spending millions to advertise in the Feb. 6 Super Bowl will likely pay off for Hollywood’s movie studios, say marketing experts at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, who have studied Super Bowl advertising for five years. Advertisements during the high-profile game are selling for an average of $2.4 million per 30-second spot, a record amount for the National Football…
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6895297/ After backlash, marketers plan to rein in the raunch By Martin Wolk MSNBC Last year’s Super Bowl is best remembered for Janet Jackson’s halftime ‘wardrobe malfunction,’ but the singer’s accidental overexposure was hardly the event’s only breach of good taste. The CBS broadcast of the showdown between the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers also was marred by a…