Celebrating an American icon: the Super Bowl commercial

Long before it transformed our lives with the iPhone, iPad and iPod, Apple birthed a cottage industry that has evolved into an American institution: the Super Bowl commercial.

Its iconic “1984” ad – which ran during Super Bowl XVIII and was designed to build anticipation for Apple’s new Macintosh computer – changed everything. The company spent big money on state-of-the-art production and hired Ridley Scott – whose Hollywood chops had already been established with “Alien” and “Blade Runner” – to direct.

The result: a haunting one-minute masterpiece that depicted a totalitarian “Big Brother” government ruling over us in a dystopian future. This, of course, was the world depicted in George Orwell’s legendary novel – which was published in 1948 (hence the transposition of the last two digits).

The ad ran in the third quarter of the game and created unprecedented buzz for the Macintosh release two days later.

Ever since, the world’s biggest companies have spent untold billions on Super Bowl commercials, attempting to recapture the magic Apple did more than 30 years ago.

Whether any of the Super Bowl LI commercials – for which FOX is reportedly asking advertisers to shell out $5 million for a 30-second spot – enter the national zeitgeist remains to be seen.

But, in anticipation of the big game on Feb. 5, we thought we’d take a look back at some of our favorite Super Bowl commercials from the last five years.

2016: MINI

If the old baseball adage is “Hit ‘em where they ain’t,” then the Super Bowl commercial corollary could be “Show ‘em what they ain’t … expecting.” And that’s just what Mini did by not only showing strong brand SELF-awareness (“Hey, we know the stereotypes of the people typically associated with our car!”), but by casting a collection of disparate, but mostly recognizable folks, to “defy labels.”

2015: DOVE

Call us suckers for schmaltz but Dove’s #RealStrength ad pulled at our heartstrings with a single word – “Daddy!” – repeated throughout a series of poignant and powerful moments to which we can all (hopefully!) relate.

2014: T-MOBILE

You can also call us suckers for self-deprecation – and Tim Tebow has it in spades in this legitimately entertaining spot. Good lord – and yes, pun intended for the devoutly Christian former quarterback – if only Tebow could throw a football as well as he could poke fun at his own holier-than-thou image.


Security camera footage has never been more heartwarming than it is here, catching ordinary folks doing the most uplifting and often random things. From “attacks of friendship” to “people stealing … kisses” we dare you not to smile throughout.


When you use the end of the world to elicit a few good-natured giggles, then kudos to you, Chevrolet. And what was so amusing? That how, despite destroying EVERYTHING else, the 2012 Mayan Apocalypse (remember when that was a thing?) couldn’t so much as put a dent in a Chevy Silverado. No, the indestructible pickup trucks were still able to easily traverse the ruined roadways, and the accompanying soundtrack – Barry Manilow’s “Looks like we made it” – was delicious icing on the cake.

By |2017-02-10T15:09:57+00:00January 19th, 2017|