Blast to the past: 8 random Super Bowl commercials from the ’90s

I never paid attention to the Super Bowl and sometimes even forgot which teams were playing. The commercials and half-time show are what mattered.

I love the ’90s. Everything about that decade makes me nostalgic, from the hip-hop beats to the flannel fashion to the lack of mobile phones. When I listen to the radio and hear another ’90s or early 2000s hit remixed, I have to avoid thinking to myself, “Pff. They just cannot come up with anything new.” It is a reflex, but I know there’s nothing wrong with remixes at all!

Bring back the old, and keep it alive, I say, except for DJ Khaled and Rihanna’s new remix of Santana and Wyclef Jean’s Maria, Maria. That should not have happened.

Here are eight Super Bowl commercials from the ’90s that will either make you nostalgic, make you think, “Woah, that is still relevant today,” or make you feel like you have no way to relate to any of this. Think of it as a time capsule.

[bctt tweet=”Here are eight Super Bowl commercials from the 90s that will either make you nostalgic, make you think, “Woah, that is still relevant today”, or make you feel like you have no way to relate to any of this” username=”wearethetempest”]

1. The “When I grow up” commercial (1999)

This commercial is a timeless capture of what so many adults still feel in the working world. It sums up the dissatisfaction and the loss of energy that comes from office life. Just read LinkedIn or keep up with different stories, and you will understand.

Also, if you were not a kid of the ’90s, do yourself a favor and watch Office Space. Probably the best Hollywood depiction of this concept.

2. The “Don’t Even Think About It” Shaquille O’Neill Pepsi commercial (1993)

Whether you think Pepsi is overly sugared poison is beside the point. Look at the adorable child and his absolutely witty self even in the face of a big basketball giant! I still remember the days when my dad would even quote this commercial. He would usually do it in the context of his dad jokes.

I would ask him if we could buy something, and he would tell me clearly: “Don’t even think about it.”

3. Nike commercial with Steve Martin reporting on Michael Jordan’s fake retirement (1994)

The ’90s had my two favorite Michaels of all time: Jordan and Jackson. Michael Jordan was just too awesome, and the running joke was that every time he said he would retire, mostly nobody believed it because he would just come back. This ad humorously shows this through Michael Jordan’s resemblances within different NBA teams. In reality, nobody had the right to be too harsh on Michael when he kept coming back. He was welcomed with open arms every time.

For the record, he did finally retire in 2003 – for the third time.

4. Elijah Wood getting towards the front seats of the Super Bowl through Wavy Lays charm (1992)

Elijah Woods was an adorable kid outside of the Lord of the Rings. This time capsule to his childhood shows him using his bag of Wavy Lays chips to eventually get to front seats. He gets as far as being close to Troy Aikman.

While I did everything to avoid watching the actual Super Bowl, I could never avoid knowing who Dallas Cowboys players were because it was my home city. Not to mention, two of the most important men in my life made sure I knew.

5. IBM Flying Cars Commercial (1990)

“It’s the year 2000, but where are the flying cars? I was promised flying cars. I don’t see any flying cars!” I am sad to say that flying cars may exist now and are being tested, but we are not regularly flying them like they do in the Jetsons.

Who cares about flying cars, anyway?

The world probably needs electric or driverless ones more. I would rather avoid environmental destruction of the atmosphere and long commute times wading through standstill traffic (I can imagine that can happen in the air too).

[bctt tweet=”Who cares about flying cars when the world probably needs electric or driverless ones more? ” username=”wearethetempest”]

6. The silly dog sock puppet from in a series of Superbowl commercials (1999-2000)

This sock puppet dog was quite popular for a while when internet shopping was in its toddler stages. He was quite random and silly in the way he talked to the cats, dogs, fish and many other animals. It was death by cuteness, supplemented by his personal karaoke. I loved his version of Kool and The Gang’s Too Hot. Something about a sock puppet with a microphone was fun, and his way of making dad-like jokes was even better.

And did have one thing right: pets (still) can’t drive!

7. Pepsi Dancing Bears to a modification of the YMCA (1997)

Adolescent grizzly bears never looked cooler. It seemed Coke and Pepsi were constantly producing ads during the Superbowl around this time, too. I loved the way the coming of age of these grizzlies was juxtaposed with the musical excitement of youth. While it was a tad corny to use five bears that use their hands and body to spell out Pepsi, as a way to play on YMCA, I cannot say it did not get me giggling.

I wonder if a commercial was later made of these same Grizzlies doing the Macarena.

8. The somewhat creepy Hal ad from Apple (1999)

And finally, the creepiest ad of them all, but absolute genius.  Apple has always been edgy with their ads and the most memorable one they ran in a Superbowl was 1984 (yes, based on the book).

This one needs some context. Before the start of the year, 2000, paranoia was going around about a Y2K bug. This bug had everyone running around thinking that the world’s systems would shut down, hence, Hal’s reference to a global economic disruption. It was literally inspired by the Hal character speaking to astronaut Dave in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. 

[bctt tweet=”So, if you are like me and cannot be bothered to sit through the actual Superbowl, the ads can be a moment for you to turn on your analytical brain. ” username=”wearethetempest”]

So, if you are like me and cannot be bothered to sit through the actual Super Bowl, the ads can be a moment for you to turn on your analytical brain. You can nerd out thinking about how companies are still trying to sell things through the TV, or, rather, online streaming advertising.

Watching old ads just reminds me how different of a world we live in, but at the same time, how some things remain the same.