One of the great aspects of the Super Bowl is there is something for everyone. Whether you are a football fan, TV viewer, or enjoy the spectacle of a live event from your couch or at a party, America’s biggest unofficial holiday brings eyeballs to screens like no other.
And since advertising (and oh yeah, football) is on the biggest stage this weekend, we thought we’d take a nostalgia trip to do something fun for the blog.
We asked our fellow Ocean Media colleagues about their all-time favorite or most memorable Super Bowl ad. We also asked why these particular advertisements made such an impact on them.
Join us as we stroll down memory lane and revisit how advertising has changed throughout the years.
Britney Spears – The Joy of Pepsi (2021)
Taylor Reynolds, Associate Media Director, Digital
Britney Spears was like the ultimate icon back in the late 90s and early 2000s. I was just a little kid, but man, she seemed so cool, and I wanted everything she did or had. It’s funny, though—I’ve always been a die-hard Coke supporter. Still, there were times I’d bug my parents to get me a Pepsi just because Britney was all about it. Her influence was just that powerful, making even a soda preference a big deal for a little fan like me.
“I’m going to Disney World!” (1987)
Matthew Aronowitz, Data Scientist
As a newly minted 7-year-old New York Giants fan, I vividly recall Phil Simms’ post-game commercial, which featured highlights of the game and the music ‘Wish Upon a Star.’ In that ad, #11 (still love Phil), says, “I’m going to Disney World!” Honestly, this might be the only thing I truly remember from that Super Bowl. All I knew was that my team had won, and the QB was off to celebrate in Disney World. At the time, I remember thinking that was awesome.
Apple “1984” (1984)
Gregg Bender, Senior Vice President, Client Services
My favorite Super Bowl commercial is a classic that ran in Super Bowl XLVIII on January 22, 1984.
The commercial immediately grabbed my attention and drew me in with its stark, dystopian setting. I had never seen anything like this, and at first, I was trying to figure out if it was an ad for a new movie or a “regular” commercial (not that there was anything regular about it). And with the spot being 60 seconds in length, it took a long time before the reveal – it was for Apple’s new Macintosh personal computer.
1984 was a high-concept spot that told a story, which was deep on many levels and could have many different interpretations. I loved the juxtaposition of the woman athlete, dressed in a vivid white tank top and red shorts, while the rest of the people and scenery were a dull gray. She was clearly the hero, come to save us, but from what? Who was big brother and how was Apple’s personal computer going to save us? These were the questions I pondered for days and weeks later, having spirited conversations with family and friends.
I think Apple was going after IBM, which dominated the computer market at the time, so they would have been big brother. But I thought it was bigger than that, the Macintosh personal computer would allow you freedom because you had an instrument that removed some of the constraints of the world we lived in. That was my romantic thought anyway, without knowing what a personal computer could actually do. Back in 1984, not only did I not have a PC, but I didn’t know anyone who did.
This was a new world that held great promise, as it appealed to my adventurous spirit and allowed me to dream of possibilities. All of these emotions and thoughts were evoked from a single airing of the commercial. I desperately wanted to see it again but couldn’t. 1984 only aired once nationally and there was no internet to find and rewatch it. But it was such a profound spot, that I remember it to this day (although many years later, you could find the spot online).
In 1984, I was starting my career and couldn’t afford the Macintosh. I had one job where we used IBM computers which were very cumbersome to use. It wasn’t until 1991, working for an agency that had no computers, but had secretaries that would type your handwritten work, that I found myself in a position to buy a Mac. I purchased a second-hand one from a fellow coworker, gained my independence from the secretaries, and found my new personal computer allowed me to be more creative and productive. 7 years later, I got my hands on the freedom I dreamed about.
Budweiser Lost Dog (2017)
Annmarie Turpin, Chief Technology Officer
They played me like a fiddle with the cute puppy, and the tug on the heartstrings when the puppy got lost, and then the heroic journey to find the way home, and the David vs. Goliath with the wolf, and then horse-friends-to-the-rescue. It checks all the boxes. The spot has nothing to do with beer and I’m fine with that; I was entertained. It works for brand building, but not for conversions – I am still highly unlikely to reach for a Budweiser.
Walmart’s Famous Visitors (2020)
Kevin Cozine, Media Director
As an 80’s/90’s kid and a huge sci-fi fanboy, all of the Easter eggs here brought a smile to my face. Anything that calls back to the entertainment and pop culture of that era is always likely to get my attention. As if the Enterprise wasn’t enough the presence of Bill S. Preston Esquire and Sam J. Jones, Flash Gordon himself skyrocketed this ad to the top of the pack for me.
Putting my advertising professional hat on for a moment, the spot itself is effective in that it demonstrates the service/product they are promoting in a practical way. It would have been easy to just dine out on the cool factor but ultimately the creators here remember the point is to sell a product and they definitely hit the mark here.
Reddit 5-second ad
Jillian Saul, VP, Local Media
The commercial demonstrated you can do a lot with a little—this was a :05 ad and ran in select markets— and still made national news. As the VP of Local Media, I find case studies like these effective to demonstrate the power of local!
Coca-Cola Brotherly Love (2016)
Jason Drews, VP, Account Director
First and foremost, I’m a sucker for anything even slightly touching. The other commercials that I was thinking about were all spots that pulled at the heartstrings and/or had dogs in them. But this tops the list for a few reasons: I’m a brother, I have three sons and my family has strong ties to Coke and Atlanta.
From a media perspective, I always think of advertising as how much it contributes to the bottom line yet the commercials that I think are the most “effective” personally like this one are hard to measure. Even if you can determine that something worked or that it resonated, it is much more difficult to know why it worked. Sometimes you can capture lightning in a bottle. It is fascinating that over the many years I’ve been watching the Super Bowl (for the commercials) there’s only a handful that I can recall. Here’s hoping BetMGM’s spot this year is one of those spots for many of us!
While we have seen a handful of what is to come for 2024’s big game, we are excited to see the surprises, the cameos, and newcomers to the world’s biggest stage! Enjoy the game, everyone!