It’s that time of year again. This Sunday millions of Americans will huddle around their televisions and stuff their faces with snack foods while cheering on their favorite group of overpaid athletes.
Ah yes, the Super Bowl. For many of you non-Americans out there who don’t consider the United States the center of the universe, let me explain. The Super Bowl is an American custom where two football (not soccer) teams play in a ‘world’ championship game (conveniently excluding all other countries).
Since its inception in 1967, the Super Bowl has grown into the biggest televised event in America. As a result, marketers pay big bucks (and occasionally their first born) to promote their products on this huge stage. This year the cost is up to $3 million per 30-second spot. So, in order to maximize their investment, advertisers pull out all the stops to make their commercials memorable. Usually the biggest, funniest and most clever commercials of the year premiere during this game. Most Americans will even confess that they watch the Super Bowl as much for the commercials as they do for the game (which, before the days of DVRs, made deciding when to go to the bathroom a squirm-filled dilemma).
During the third quarter of Super Bowl XVIII (the roman numerals make it classy) one of the greatest geek commercials of all time aired – “1984.” It was the commercial that introduced the world to Apple’s Macintosh personal computer. Borrowing from the revered dystopian novel by George Orwell, “Nineteen Eighty-Four,” a young Steve Jobs (with the help of acclaimed ad agency Chiat/Day) envisioned IBM as the tyrannical Big Brother and Apple as the heroic liberators, putting the power back into the people’s hands.
But the geek pedigree for this historic slap-in-the-face doesn’t stop there. Fresh off the heels of helming Alien and Blade Runner, the geek god of world building himself, Ridley Scott, directed the spot. British character actor David Graham, responsible for various roles on Doctor Who, Thunderbirds and other Sci-fi staples of the 60’s and 70’s, portrayed Big Brother in the commercial. Oh, and there was a hot chick swinging a phallic hammer at a huge television screen, which was pretty awesome.
Whether you’re a die-hard Mac fan or would rather die than touch a MacBook, you can’t deny the geek impact of this commercial. Hell, even Futurama did a parody of it in their “Future Stock” episode. Of course, this year’s nerdgasm-inducing commercials from Volkswagen and Chevrolet might give it a run for its money.
So, what’s your favorite moment of geek-vertising?