10 Surprising Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About The History Of Super Bowl Commercials

By: 01.31.14  •  13 Comments


Super Bowl advertising has come a long way since the very first Super Bowl in 1967. Once an event with little commercial interest, now millions of people who care nothing about football tune in simply to watch the commercials, even though you can watch most Super Bowl commercials online before the Super Bowl. Before Sunday’s big game, I thought we’d take a quick look back at some of the more obscure facts about Super Bowl commercials through the years.

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.

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