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Businesses Television

Superbowl Tech Ads, 1976–Present 70

Ian Lamont writes "Computerworld has put together a collection of interesting, funny, and just plain weird Superbowl television advertisements from tech companies — excluding Internet retailers. Everyone has seen the Macintosh ad that played during the 1984 Superbowl, but there are a bunch of other gems, starting with a long-winded ad for the Xerox 9200 from 1976. The funniest is probably EDS's 'herding cats' ad from 2000, but there are some oddities, too, including a bizarre ad for Network Associates depicting a Russian nuclear missile launch, and a very dated ad for Sharp from the mid-1980s. Intel has one ad in the collection from 1997, and it turns out that it is returning with two ads this year that it says feature 'geek humor.'"
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Superbowl Tech Ads, 1976–Present

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  • by MrMr ( 219533 ) on Sunday February 07, 2010 @11:45AM (#31052638)
    I suppose TFA consists of blank pages if I check the disable advertising box?
  • EDS Ad (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jav1231 ( 539129 ) on Sunday February 07, 2010 @11:51AM (#31052672)
    That EDS ad was pretty funny until you realized that YOU were the cats. Without EDS to "herd" those aimless technical staffers why where would your company be? Thank goodness HP bought them.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by icebrain ( 944107 )

      I really liked their "building airplanes in mid-air" commercial, but then, I'm an aerospace engineer and built an airplane in my garage.

  • Looks like slashdot effect on
    • Re:slashdot effect (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ari_j ( 90255 ) on Sunday February 07, 2010 @12:53PM (#31052962)
      Does anyone else miss, the video site from the late 90's? They were ahead of their time, and had a collection legitimately hilarious ads, like the one for that featured a guy insisting he could golf through the trees and ended up nailing his skeptical friend in the crotch with a ricochet off a tree.
      • by jav1231 ( 539129 )
        I remember. I think the original ads were just the best!
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by CheeseTroll ( 696413 )

        Adcritic got hit by the actors' guild (or whatever it's called), when the actors realized they weren't getting paid for the internet playtime. Most USA contracts stipulated royalties to the actors every time the commercial aired. I'm no longer working in the ad biz, so I don't know what has changed since then to allow ubiquitous internet playback. Maybe everything is shot in Canada now, where the contracts are less generous. Or maybe Youtube has just made it impossible to keep the genie in the bottle?

        • by Machtyn ( 759119 )
          I'm no insider, but I do remember a walk-out by the actor's guild about 5 years ago. For the most part, it had to do with royalties on DVD releases and how much the actors should get from those. Only slightly behind the main theme was royalties received from Internet replay and other online sales. Thus was born the vomit of "reality" (situational) tv shows. They get "volunteers" to try and kill themselves for a load of cash.

          Of course, I could be way off on this.
  • Why bother? (Score:2, Insightful)

    Intel has one ad in the collection from 1997, and it turns out that it is returning with two ads this year that it says feature 'geek humor.'

    Seriously - why bother?

    Geeks, at least the type of geek who cares who is making their cpu generally don't watch the superbowl. I know it's a stereotype, but it does have a basis in reality. I know of maybe one person at work that I would suspect *might* watch the game.

    If the commercials are actually funny Fark will let me know and I'll catch them on YouTube to

    • Re:Why bother? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by zrobotics ( 760688 ) on Sunday February 07, 2010 @12:47PM (#31052910)

      If the commercials are actually funny ...I'll catch them on YouTube tomorrow.

      If you do end up watching them on YouTube, then the advertisers will still have succeeded. They care less about where there ads are viewed, just the number of eyeballs viewing them. The reason they focus on the Superbowl is that it's a media extravaganza, and the ads are a big deal, simply because they're in the superbowl. So, a superbowl ad will more likely have more views on YouTube than just some random ad from TV.

      • True, but my point was that any funny commercial will get posted on Fark/YouTube and it'll get the same circulation. Why pay the extra amount to have it broadcast during the superbowl? Geeks won't care one way or another because we won't be there for the most part and that's their target audience.

      • Days before the game and the only ad I've heard about or seen is that stupid gay dating spot that every blog and media outlet in America now feels they are duty-bound to embed so as to strike a blow for gay rights. Next year you will see the most outrageous, never-really-designed-to-air spots getting hyped as "too daring for [superbowl network], watch them on [this alternate media outlet]." It will serve the morons right if the network *does* run the spot and takes their (unbudgeted) multi-million dollar

      • by houghi ( 78078 )

        On the plus side, you don't have to sit trough some boring game to see them.

      • by antdude ( 79039 )

        Not just on YouTube, but official sites but not sure who is hosting them. AOL again?

        • well if you consider dancers in HonolULU or a certain fad in the eighties related to dancing with a ring you might in north america figure out another streaming site that has been advertising that they will be showing the sopts

      • >> If you do end up watching them on YouTube, then the advertisers will still have succeeded.

        because, yes, any effort to spark internal consumption of goods and services can't be anything good for $beloved_country. ::sarcasm

        I'd like to see when people think they outsmart the advertisers and marketing guy while sipping $brand cola and wearing a $brand cool hoodie, going to $brand web video site with their $brand over 9000 lasesrz!1 mouse.

        We all know they make their own tin foil hats but I wonder how mu
      • by Machtyn ( 759119 )
        Strangely, I was more interested in the Super Bowl this time around. There were some interesting ads, but I was also playing cards with the family. So, when my attention was diverted, mostly it was because of the game.
    • Re:Why bother? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by KingSkippus ( 799657 ) on Sunday February 07, 2010 @01:04PM (#31053040) Homepage Journal

      Geeks, at least the type of geek who cares who is making their cpu generally don't watch the superbowl. I know it's a stereotype, but it does have a basis in reality.

      That is a stereotype, and it most certainly does not have a basis in reality.

      I'm a geek, most of the people I work with are geeks, and about half will probably watch the Super Bowl. If you ask around, you'll probably find that around the same proportion of geeks are into football as about any other random segment of the population. Maybe even more, since "geek" is a predominantly male demographic, as is "Super Bowl watcher." I have a Falcons tag on the front of my car, thank you very much, and I've gotta say, that red and black logo on my red car does look sweet.

      Granted, I'm not into fantasy football leagues, and I can't quote a bunch of stats or tell you who led the league in touchdown receptions, but that doesn't apply to most average Joes, either. I do enjoy watching the competition at its highest level, the ads are generally the cream of the crop and funny, plus a Who concert to boot? Jesus, count me in, let's kick off already!

      Oh, and lest I forget, Go Colts! Sorry Saints, I don't hate you, but I just don't think it's not your year yet. Plus, any chance that Peyton Manning gets to prove that he's a better QB than Pretty Boy Brady is a sure-fire opportunity for me to root for his team.

      • I just don't think it's not your year yet.

        Double negative typos FTL. :( Obviously, I meant, "I just don't think it's your year yet..."

      • by Machtyn ( 759119 )
        The Who concert was classy. They did a really good job. And, thankfully, there were no wardrobe malfunctions (which is not what made this concert classe ;)
    • Seriously - why bother?

      Geeks, at least the type of geek who cares who is making their cpu generally don't watch the superbowl.

      Based on your small circle of friends? I could make the opposite based on the "geeks" that I know. Computer science majors, run their own web-design company, as well as build their own computers as a hobby. We've been playing in a fantasy football league together for 5+ years now.

      You're also forgetting that the Super Bowl is more of a social event. I'm a Giants fan, so I barely paid attention to the playoffs, but I'm watching the game today because someone is having a party for it.

      • by jaymz666 ( 34050 )

        You think geeks care about "social events"? According to the person you are replying to geeks only care about who builds their CPU and other computer stuff, there's no world out there where they go to parties, or perhaps build servers and apps to host their fantasy football leagues because the services already out their aren't good enough.

    • Because the geeks don't typically have the authority to make purchasing decisions. Sure, in some organizations they might have some input or influence, but it's typically the non-geek Director, VP or higher that signs off on the final PO.

      I don't think these ads are targeted towards the geek that might have a few systems in their house. That's peanuts compared to all the enterprise level opportunities out there.

  • Apparently they have embed to a web site that wasn't too happy about the extra traffic and has a user/pass lock on most of the videos mentioned in TFA. Some of the Youtube ones are still available.


  • Half the ads in the article require a username and password, you would think a site like computerworld would be savvy enough not to post content restricted by login credentials in an article for the web

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jcombel ( 1557059 )
      they didn't require credentials when the article went up friday; the site hosting the ads got slashdotted
  • by D4C5CE ( 578304 ) on Sunday February 07, 2010 @01:22PM (#31053196) do business.

    Last time the "greatest Superbowl tech ads of all time" came up, they were already missing the iconic Sun commercial as well: [] []

    Still not on YouTube?
  • by RevWaldo ( 1186281 ) on Sunday February 07, 2010 @01:24PM (#31053214)
    Apple's 2nd over-the-top so-bad-it's-great SuperBowl ad for the (unsuccessful) Macintosh Office []. []

    Now that's some smack talk!
  • by bwcbwc ( 601780 )
    Interesting that the "herding cats" ad still gets mentioned after all these years. In some ways the "running of the squirrels" ad was even funnier, but IIRC it never aired on a superbowl.

    I wonder if their new HP overlords will ever produce a commercial that is remembered 10 years later (or more).
  • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Sunday February 07, 2010 @02:01PM (#31053488) Homepage Journal

    Everyone has seen the Macintosh ad that played during the 1984 Superbowl

    Two words: Stevie Wonder.

  • I read Google will air this [] tonight.
  • Slashed (Score:2, Funny)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 )

    TFA: CompuServe: "Not Busy" (1997)
    This commercial is a great reminder of what it was like to dial up to the Internet in 1997 -- extremely frustrating if you couldn't get through to your ISP.

    Kind of like trying to watch videos on a slashdotted site.

    • by socsoc ( 1116769 )

      Except they billed it as "We like it because it plays with the medium, telling the whole story with audio only."

      There were a bunch of words at the end telling me who to choose as my ISP. It wasn't audio only.

  • Dot bomb era (Score:3, Interesting)

    by plopez ( 54068 ) on Sunday February 07, 2010 @04:27PM (#31054450) Journal []

    And there was another one, from a dot bomb company (1999?). I can't find it but it went something like this:

    Guy standing before blank screen
    "We got a bunch of money for a Super Bowl ad. But it was too late to put one together. So I'll just stand here for 30 seconds."

    Looks at watch and commercial eventually fades out.

    Those two ads epitomize the dot bomb stupidity for me. The market crashed in spring of 2000

    • No kidding. I love them for their total political incorrectness approach. I especially love the gerbil one, which is exactly the kind of ad that pisses off certain terrorist organizations (such as peta)

The absence of labels [in ECL] is probably a good thing. -- T. Cheatham