10 Facts You Didn't Know About the History of Super Bowl Commercials

By Hayley St. John | Friday, January 31, 2013


Photo: Uproxx.com

Big Game on the way! And besides the awesome food and the game itself, our favorite thing is the commercials. They've come a long way over the years. UpRoxx.com put together this list of videos and facts about the special ads over the years. Take 20 or so minutes, 30 seconds or a minute at a time, to see these crazy commercials. It's worth it.


1. The very first notable ad to air during the Super Bowl was a Master Lock commercial that aired in 1975. The spot demonstrated the toughness of the lock by proving it could withstand a gunshot.


2. The 1984 commercial for Macintosh that aired in 1984 — and is widely considered the greatest Super Bowl commercial of all time — aired only once on TV. George Orwell’s estate sent a cease and desist letter afterwards, having considered it copyright infringement. (Wikipedia)


3. After the revolutionary success of Apple’s 1984 commercial, Apple attempted to replicate the success in 1985 with another Macintosh ad called “Lemmings.” It was a failure that many people considered too dark and cynical. You can see from the ad why they’d have thought that.


4. Everyone has seen Volkswagen’s The Force ad. In fact, it’s the most shared ad in the history of YouTube (now approaching 60 million views). But did you know that the kid in the ad, Max Page, has had eight heart surgeries due to a congenital heart defect, including one whe was when he was three months old to receive a pacemaker, and another when he was 7 to receive a new heart valve? He’ll likely need more to replace valves later in life. Despite all of this, he does charity work, and in 2012, raised $50,000 for children’s hospitals. (Adweek)


5. Below is one of the first Super Bowl ads to ever inspire a movie. After seeing it, Warner Brothers decided to cash in on its popularity and put into production Space Jam.


6. The Marvin the Martian ad wasn’t the first to inspire a movie, however. In 1992, Steven Spielberg was so impressed with the ad below for McDonald’s that he contacted the creators and turned the premise into a movie called Little Giants. (Baltimore Sun)


7. The first major blockbuster movie to use the Super Bowl to kick off its marketing campaign was Independence Day in 1996. Fox paid $1.3 million to air in the commercial, which began the trend of major blockbusters using the Super Bowl as a starting point for their marketing blitzes.


8. The first 30-second spots during the Super Bowl — in 1967 — costs $40,000. In 1984, the Macintosh ad cost $450,000. The first time it crossed $1 million was in 1995, $2 million in 2000, and now a Super Bowl ad cost $4 million. At this rate, by 2040, a Super Bowl ad will cost $10 million for 30 seconds. (Businessweek)



9. One of the greatest failures in Super Bowl commercial history was the Herb the Nerd campaign for Burger King in 1985-86. Burger King spent $40 million creating a campaign in which a character named Herb was created. Herb had apparently never had a Burger King burger in his life, and the campaign promised that if anyone spotted Herb at a Burger King, they would receive $5,000. The commercials aired for a couple of months, and created some interest. However, there was one problem: No one knew was Herb looked like. Finally, during the 1986 Super Bowl, the appearance of Herb was finally revealed in Burger King’s commercial, and viewers quickly lost interest. The ad firm in charge of the campaign was fired by Burger King soon thereafter. (Wikipedia)


10. GoldieBlox, which made headlines last year with a spectacular commercial that used the Beastie Boys’ song, Girls, will make history on Sunday by becoming the first small business to have a commercial air during the Super Bowl. The company, which barely has 15 employees and makes toys for girls, won a contest from Intuit, the prize being having a commercial air during the Super Bowl. (CNN)