On Sunday, millions of people around the world will watch Super Bowl LII. And while the game remains U.S. consumers’ favorite part of Super Bowl Sunday the commercials are not far behind. When asked ‘what was your favorite part of Super Bowl LI?’ in 2017, statista survey takers ranked the game at 58%, commercials at 46% and social gathering at 26%. So, knowing that nearly half of those watching the big game are really into the commercials, and doing what we do, we thought we’d take advantage of #throwbackthursday and travel back in time to revisit three of the most impactful Super Bowl commercials in history.
It Really Started in 1973 With A Shave Cream Commercial
Before 1973, ads shown during the Super Bowl were just regular ads. And because networks and advertisers were not totally comfortable with ratings, ads for the first few Super Bowl games were sometimes sold at discounted rates. That all changed in 1973 with a 30-second spot featuring Super Bowl III MVP (and future Hall-of-Famer) Joe Namath and pre-Charlie’s Angels star Farrah Fawcett. Noxema Shave Cream unleashed “Let Nozema Cream Your Face” to rave reviews. With a flawless blend of football lingo and sexual innuendo, the spot was entertaining, but more importantly it generated conversations the day after it aired. Super Bowl advertising would never be same.
Pulling Heartstrings Through Celebrity Endorsement
In 1979, Coca-Cola created one of the all-time best Super Bowl commercials when they presented Mean Joe Greene in a new light. Shedding his tough guy persona, Joe Greene of the Pittsburgh Steelers trades a coke for his game-worn jersey with a young boy in a stadium tunnel. Former McCann-Erickson copywriter Penny Hawkey explains how the script came together. “We wanted a boy and an intimidating man – someone who needs and someone who rejects – and to have plenty of tension and relief when the Coke was handed over,” said Hawkey. Fans and non-fans alike that were moved by its heartwarming message applauded the ad. Nearly 40 years later, the ad stands the test of time as an example of sharp, effective and dramatic storytelling.
1984: The Spot That Broke All the Rules
As the Redskins and Raiders game planned for the second half of Super Bowl XVIII, the rest of the world watching the game had no idea they were about to see the most famous commercial in Super Bowl history. Inspired by George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984, Sci-Fi director Ridley Scott created a 60-second film to introduce the original Apple Macintosh and introduce the idea that the new age of home computing would ensure that “1984 won’t be like 1984.” Steve Jobs and Chiat\Day’s brilliant idea of elevating a television commercial into a short film redefined what Super Bowl commercials could be – from this point forward, Super Bowl commercials were expected to be elaborate and plot-driven.
—Erik Herskind, CEO