February 08, 2010, 3:42 PM — The big event has passed, and now it's time for Monday morning quarterbacking and second-guessing key decisions. I'm not talking about last night's Super Bowl -- I'm talking about the advertisements.
It's an enduring testament to the cunning of Madison Avenue that the commercials interrupting the event are a much bigger story than the event itself. For this, as for many things, you can credit (or blame) Apple, whose seminal "1984" Mac ad really upped the ante on what a Super Bowl commercial should and could do.
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Super Bowl ads changed again in the late '90s thanks to high tech, as the dot-commers started an arms race to see who could lower the bar on tastelessness. The peak (or nadir) for me: Cyberian Outpost's 1998 ad where it fired gerbils out of a cannon against a brick wall. (Like the gerbils, Outpost.com and most of the other dot-coms that advertised in those heady years also went splat!)
Now the contest is to see who can create an ad that's so out of bounds it gets banned by the network before it even reaches the air -- thus ensuring tens of thousands of views on YouTube while saving millions of dollars in airtime. (The feral snarks at eSarcasm have rounded up some of the better Super Bowl ads the networks didn't want you to see.)
The biggest news in the geekosphere, though, is the buzz over Google's first-ever Super Bowl ad. Titled "Parisian Love" (though a more accurate title would be "How to date, marry, and impregnate a French chick while never leaving your computer"), it's a classy piece of work that shows the progression of a courtship from the initial blush of romance through 3 a.m. feedings, as told through Google searches.
As CEO Eric Schmidt points out in a terse blog post, that ad's been running on YouTube for three months, but "we liked this video so much, and it's had such a positive reaction on YouTube, that we decided to share it with a wider audience."