In another week, the biggest television event of the year will arrive when millions gather around their flat screens to watch Pittsburgh take on Green Bay in Super Bowl XLV. And, of late, the action on the field has almost seemed secondary to the action which occurs in the two or three minute commercial break pods.
There is no specific year when Super Bowl advertising became Super Bowl advertising. Most will point to the now famous 1984 commercial from Apple in, yes, 1984. Others suggest the Coke commercial featuring Pittsburgh's Mean Joe Greene in 1980. The bottom line is that as the game evolved and increased in audience viewership, so too did the advertising which aired on and before the game.
Let's look at some of the highlights, which were outlined in a recent edition of ADWEEK magazine.
1967 - The first game--a Packers' victory over the Kansas City Chiefs--included advertising from Winston cigarettes. Yes, kids, at one time cigarette advertising did appear on television.
1970 - A celebrity endorser, Dick Butkus, helped pitch Prestone anti-freeze.
1973 - Pop culture icons Joe Namath and Farrah Fawcett combine to pitch Noxzema shave cream with Namath's famous line, "I'm about to get creamed."
1975 - McDonald's first Super Bowl ad appeared. The fast food chain would go on to become a regular player in the Super Bowl ad wars.
1977 - Remember Brother Dominic, who found an easier way to duplicate documents? Xerox's well-known television spot debuted at this Super Bowl.
1984 - The most famous commercial in television history airs for Apple.
1987 - Michael J. Fox starred in a Diet Pepsi commercial, needing to quickly fetch a soda for the pretty neighbor.
1992 - Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan do battle in "Hare Jordan" (Nike.)
1993 - Jordan stars again, this time alongside Larry Bird, in the McDonald's spot which featured an absurd game of "HORSE."
1995 - One of my favorite all-time commercials was the one for Nissan which had animated, doll-like figures going for a ride in the new 300ZX.
1996 - The Budweiser Clydesdales play football.
2000 - The "Whassup" campaign for Budweiser debuts.
2003 - Linebacker Terry Tate delivers office justice for Reebok.
2005 - CareerBuilder enlists chimps to deliver their message.
2009 - Troy Polamalu reprises the Mean Joe Greene commercial, this time for Coke Zero.
What will 2011 bring? Will any ad stand out in a way that it makes this list in the years to come? Tune in next Sunday to see which brands shelled out approximately $2.9 million for their 30-second shot at advertising fame.