So who's hyped for the SUPER BOWL? ....Aw, come on, not even a little? That's what I get for entertaining an audience of geeks.
I admit I'm also one of the ones who care nothing for football and only watch for the advertising, which is usually a mixed bag.....yet I have to see it all. Yeah, you can just wait until all the ads appear on YouTube the next day. Yeah, you can read all the spoilers and watch the purposely-leaked ads by companies who'd rather waste millions than surprise you. And yeah, you can live a miserable, bland existence, but why? Forget it! The Super Bowl is an American tradition, man! Avoid all spoilers, get on the couch, lay out the junk food and have a blast!
But why just have a blast when you can have a PAST-BLAST? After many frustrating years, it's finally become possible to create a series of articles I have wanted to write ever since this site began: mini-reviews of every Super Bowl ad, year by year. Welcome to a January tradition -- there will be many more in the years to come. So pour yourself a Crystal Pepsi, boot up your MLife and kick back!
1994 was the Dallas Cowboys against the Buffalo Bills. The Bills were trashed completely. The game was a predictable snore. Did the ads fare any better? (Wait a few minutes for all of them to finish loading. Also, if they don't appear at all, get a better browser. I've spent years trying to find a cross-compatible video format and it simply doesn't exist.)
|Here we have the very last gasp of 7Up's Spot campaign. I don't know how you feel, but I miss these little guys. Notice how they're only half the focus here; the other half is on little half-funny skits with real people. That's usually the first sign a mascot's days are numbered.||
|There's something about 1990's ads
that sets them apart from any other era: the EXTREME
photographic tricks. Some of these are uncomfortably
awash in weird angles, color filters, LOTS of fisheye
lenses and faces one inch from the camera lens. The
result: anything can look like a horrid nightmare,
including this birthday party.
"Gut-Be-Gone" is my favorite fake product. Even though I only saw it for one second, and it apparently doesn't work at all, you gotta love that name. I've wanted to see this ad again for years just for the Gut-Be-Gone, but I couldn't remember what product it was selling, so I couldn't search for it. I'd forgotten it aired during the Super Bowl, and it was buried even deeper in my mind that they were selling a....car. That would have been my last guess.
|Normally I pay no attention to car ads, but for some reason, I remember loving the ads introducing the Dodge Neon. I can't really tell you why. Maybe the cuteness of how the car was portrayed made me internally squee.|
|Everyone I knew was sick
of the Bud Bowl by the time the sixth series made its
debut. Budweiser must have been listening, as the BB was
phased out the very next year. Only one ad used the
bottles in '95, and that same year, the Frogs first
appeared and they no longer needed the Bud Bowl anyway.
So this was the very last multi-part, four-minute-long Bud Bowl, and indeed, it had gotten pretty stupid. It had charm back when it was a new idea and you were watching real bottles in stop-motion, but by this point they'd become rubbery CG bottles and the novelty had passed.
|No 1990's Super Bowl is complete
without multiple appearances from Pepsi, tugging along
Cindy Crawford, crazy skits, and immature slams at Coke.
In 1994 they became one of the only companies in history
to buy an oddly-shaped 45-second spot in the Bowl (two of
them in fact), depicting a Pepsi Research Facility headed
First they stuck Crawford into a Pepsi Isolation Chamber for one month, upon which time she emerges looking like....well, I won't spoil it. Next they fill the Super Bowl Monkey Quota by feeding one chimp Pepsi and the other Coke. The Coke chimp experiences accelerated intelligence, while the Pepsi chimp runs away and becomes a womanizing d-bag. ....Wait a minute, which one were we supposed to root for again?
|They also ran this one, drumming up early hype for Woodstock '94. It was a Boomer's world at this point; anyone younger or older would have to take all the hippie references and Kennedy worship and bear with it until these people retired. Even though the 25-year-anniversary Woodstock was mostly for fortysomethings, a lot of people thought the festival had been successfully revived. That belief lasted until Woodstock '99, which was more of a bloody battle zone than a music concert, and killed the festival for good.|
|Chevy Chase's career was in a downward spiral at this point, which was understandable, because it's Chevy Chase. Everyone knew by now how hard the man was to work with and how huge his ego was, two things that still have not changed about him. Though Chevy seems to be aware of the mess he's made by starring in this self-deprecating ad, that wasn't what was going on in his head. "They pay me to eat chips! I OWN this town!"|
|MJ and Larry Bird, now joined by Charles Barkley, appeared in this sequel to the famous "Nothin' but Net" ad from one year prior. I liked it a lot; I think it continued the concept effectively. And they smartly did not continue with a third. Once you see them in space, the shark has jumped.|
|In 1992 Nike debuted "Hare Jordan" starring Bugs Bunny, and in '93 there was a sequel with Marvin the Martian. I'll always wonder if we would have gotten a trilogy if Mike hadn't "quit" to pursue a baseball career that October. Are there abandoned storyboards somewhere in the Nike basement; maybe even an animatic? Nike did this instead.|
|Missing from the 1994 batch is a Lays
ad where some kid kept trading seats with the people
below him by betting they couldn't eat just one chip.
Along the way he pointlessly meets Dan Quayle, gets down
to the front row and, eventually, beyond by betting his
chips on one of the football players. Then he gets in the
game, and it's ridiculous, but it's not there and I want
to know why. Maybe it's because this ad bled into the
halftime show, which Lay's was sponsoring, but there was
an obvious chopping point for future airings they could
have stopped it at.
Halftime was Travis Tritt. I had no idea who that was. I still have no idea who that was.
|The longest single ad of Super Bowl
XXVIII came in at one minute and thirty seconds, from
Alamo Rent-A-Car....and it really didn't need all that
space. The concept is just looney: since Alamo didn't
charge per mile, a family decides to use their Alamo
rented car to drive on every single inch of road in the
entire country. This takes them over thirty years. They
actually have children while driving and "home"
school them in the backseat. They finally cover every
roadway by 2025, and arrive as old people back at the
now-robot-staffed building only to find out Alamo now has
worldwide services, so off they go again, presumably to
die behind the wheel.
There, I saved you ninety seconds of life. Don't waste them.
|There's an interesting story behind this ad. Notice that it shows footage from the very Super Bowl it aired during. Reebok had cameras near the field and they shot a lot of the game's first half, then raced to a trailer outside the stadium and quickly found the most interesting footage, cut it together into 30 seconds and made it to the transmitter with mere minutes to spare. Hopefully they had a backup ready in case this plan went awry.|
|This was 1994. Shaquille O'Neal had just become popular, and everybody was saying "Next Jordan, next Jordan!" Maybe he might've been if he hadn't taken the most embarrassing projects I've seen any ball player sign on to. His cool factor shrank every successive time we saw him. The thing about Jordan was, he had class. Despite being "retired" at the time of this game he appears in separate ads for at least three companies, which should tell you something. The most degrading thing Jordan ever did was Space Jam -- he never dressed as a genie or approved a fighting game called "Jor-Fu," or performed a laughable rap like this one.|
|Pepsi fared better with their now-classic Shaq spot, appearing here for the first time. It was a great twist on the "Mean Joe Greene" ad. I wouldn't give it to him either.|
|Bo Knows Tea! Apparently
he was still getting ad deals by '94. Well, good....Bo
was an awesome dude. This is another 90's "fisheye
nightmare" spot, but the bad cinematography is
lessened by the hilarious sight of Bo acting all Road
Runner. This ad was not exclusive to the Bowl, and aired
for months afterward.
The other tea spot stars David Carradine, the star of the syndicated action series "Kung-Fu: The Legend Continues." Which I didn't watch, so if this ad is riffing on the show in any way, I couldn't tell you.
|How many more basketball stars does a football game need? This Converse ad got a bit of pre-Bowl press for using the surviving members of the Lollipop Guild in an Oz parody starring Grandma-ma and MJ.|
|Every year there are companies which offer ads that aren't loud or gimmicky enough to be remembered, yet clever enough to deserve it. 1994 Visa, we salute you.|
|And then, every year there are companies that don't do anything special and offer up nothing worth discussing. ...Here's some of them.|
|By the time this ad appeared, the game was almost over. Fourth-quarter ads have the disadvantage of airing when you're burned out and much harder to impress. It's not the time to air an ad this lame. FedEx, you fail!|
|The focus of the phone business has changed dramatically in twenty years. It was all about landlines in '94, and what you saw on Freakazoid was accurate -- it was a WAR. Three major companies battled neck and neck for years, continually taking shots at each other, trying to top each other with new plans and deals while slandering the other deals. MCI introduced "Friends and Family," a plan that gave you discounts for family phone calls; AT&T responded with "MCI is so evil that they want to collect the phone numbers of your family members!" The cola wars were nothing compared to this.|
|Speaking of Freakazoid, that show is all I can think of when I watch these.|
|The game aired on NBC that year and
network promos included hype for the midseason return of
LA Law and for a TV movie, "Witness To The
Execution." It was about how, in 1999, American
moral values were to have fallen so far that capital
punishment would be a public event. I mean in the
Astrodome, with millions surrounding the chair, a giant
digital clock counting down the minutes, and the National
Anthem sung by a celebrity right before the zapping.
You can guess the plot already: the man is innocent, only ONE WOMAN can stop everything, various villains want to stop her from stopping everything, yadda yadda. It faced some backlash before it aired, mainly from some dumb people who had no concept of satire (read: Senators) and thought NBC was legitimately promoting an execution for ratings, albeit a fake one.
This movie is embarrassing for many reasons, but this one leads them: if you're going to make a movie about the future, and you're going to make some bold predictions, for the love of all that is holy, DON'T set it only five years ahead.
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