Apple started it all: Super Bowl commercials seem to have been “a thing” forever, with companies blowing their budgets on funny or star-studded and compelling ads. However, if you are as old as dirt, like me, you’ll remember the commercial that started it all: Apple’s infamous Super Bowl XVIII “1984” Macintosh ad (digitally remastered version above).
So, for the forty years since, ad time for the annual event has been crazy expensive. They peaked in the 1990s with a handful of commercials running like micro-movies, arguably more entertaining than the game for some. The tradition continued for Super Bowl LVIII. Rounding up all the ads that ran would be a monumental task, but here are all the tech-related commercials we saw.
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Duolingo is an educational technology company well known for its language learning apps, but it also has courses in math and music. It had a quick five-second Super Bowl ad letting students know it doesn’t want to hear any excuses for not doing their lessons.
Intuit bought a 45-second spot promoting Turbo Tax’s $1 million sweepstakes. The company is still in damage-control mode from its $141 million class action loss last year and the more recent FTC ding it received for deceptive practices. The courts and the Federal Trade Commission concurred that its free TurboTax offers were false advertising.
Verizon & Total by Verizon
Verizon had a 30-second Spanish musical spot. It starts with a couple eating at a restaurant. The man is telling his date about Total by Verizon when he suddenly breaks into a song and dance routine reminiscent of that gaudiest Bollywood production. The woman didn’t seem impressed as she left the entertained waiter’s high-five hanging.
Unsurprisingly, Microsoft spent however many millions it costs to produce a one-minute Super Bowl commercial in 2024 promoting a single Windows feature – Copilot. Yes, the AI fad has big tech chasing the dream of being the best at making people even lazier than they already are – “Just watch” the ad.
Continuing with current en-vogue trends, hosting and website building company Squarespace tapped Martin Scorsese to produce and cameo in a 90-second mini-movie that mocks the UFO Disclosure Movement. The short of it is that we don’t need government disclosure because we are so busy looking down at our phones that we don’t see the UFOs that are openly flying above us.
Uber also spent a bundle for a one-minute slot with a star-studded ad for Uber Eats. The commercial starred Friends cast members David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston, soccer legend David Beckham and equally famous wife Victoria (aka Posh Spice), and Grammy Award winners Jelly Roll and Usher, among others. I had to forget the rest of the cast to remember those listed.
Etsy, the website probably best known for helping people peddle their arts and crafts, made its Super Bowl debut promoting its new “gift mode” feature. It’s short, to the point, and humorous.
Of course, Google was tit-for-tat with Microsoft, opting to plug its new “Guided Frame” AI tech in a pre-game slot. The accessibility feature helps vision-impaired people line up pictures so that faces appear in-frame. Blind filmmaker Adam Morse directed the 60-second story-in-pictures of a blind man falling in love.
Booking.com booked SNL alum and Mean Girls star Tina Fey to tell customers to “book whoever you want to be” on vacation. It then shows Fey posing as her “body double” on several trip stays. It ends with Fey riding a horse as she rips off her “mask” to reveal her double is none other than screen legend Glenn Close.
Crowdstrike had a confusing 15-second teaser set in the Wild West. It’s unclear what exactly is happening as it shows a woman running into a saloon shouting, “They’re back! The adversaries are back!” while an exclusively female cast gasps in unison. It seems like there should be more to this ad. If you can figure out the meaning or find an accompanying ad that lends some context, please post it in the comments.
Paramount plugged its streaming service with a mishmash of characters and actors, including Sir Patrick Stewart, Drew Barrymore, Knuckles (from Sonic the Hedgehog), Peppa Pig, and Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, all accompanied by the band Creed singing Higher. It’s cute and funny, albeit a bit cheezy.
Rival streaming service Pluto TV also took the humorous route. The free ad-supported VOD provider pre-installed on most smart TVs joked that in “Pluto TV country, we grow couch potatoes.”
In a clear poke at Intuit, DoorDash used 30 seconds of airtime to announce its “All the Ads” sweepstakes. The company hilariously claims the winner will receive all the products from all the commercials aired during the Super Bowl, including free TurboTax service (get it? Free because it’s not). One might write it off as another Super Bowl joke, especially at the part that says, “We haven’t fully thought this thing through yet.” However, DoorDash CMO Kofi Amoo-Gottfried confirmed the ad and sweepstakes is real. “We believe there’s no better way to showcase what’s possible with DoorDash than literally delivering all the Big Game ads to one lucky winner,” he said.
FanDuel tapped NFL icon Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski to lament his failed “Kick of Destiny” last year, where he hooked the ball wide left. FanDuel put $10 million in prize money up for Gronk’s second chance in “Kick of Destiny 2.” Unfortunately, Gronk shanked it right on a terrible over-correction. The failure was despite Gronkowski having practiced 90 minutes a day three times per week. He told CBS News he had raised his success rate to 90 percent compared to last year’s 40 percent. Oh well, Gronk. There’s always Super Bowl LIX.