After Sunday’s championship games, Super Bowl 50 is set. It’ll be the Carolina Panthers taking on the Denver Broncos, in case you haven’t been paying attention. And now, we wait. In the meantime, I’ll be writing about some Super Bowl ads of the past and previewing some spots that’ll be coming. Because after all, the Super Bowl might be the only place where people are more likely to go to the bathroom or talk during the game rather than the commercials. And of course, there’s the false but enduring urban legend about bathroom usage during halftime.
Master Lock isn’t really a company you think would advertising on the Super Bowl. They aren’t huge, and a bit boring (but oh so functional) as a consumer product. But they used to have Super Bowl commercials all the time. How did they afford it? Well, Master Lock would spend its entire advertising budget on this one spot. In 1974, Master Lock introduced a commercial in which a lock was fired on by a sharpshooter. It survived. This first “Tough Under Fire” ad is often ranked as one of the best Super Bowl commercials of all time. It was so successful that Master Lock would continue running similar ads for years. All of this culminated with 1998’s commercial. By that time, Super Bowl advertising costs had ballooned, so Master Lock introduced a one second ad (apparently these are called blipverts). If you were paying attention, it was probably effective as hell at a fraction of the cost.