Nothing deflates my football like the growing trend of companies putting their Super Bowl ads online before the game happens -- in this year's case, sometimes two weeks early. Two freakin' weeks. You can just not watch them, but it gets harder and harder to avoid spoilers when the news feed of every major site blares out "CHECK OUT WHAT AT&T IS DOING THIS YEAR!!!" People always say the ads for the current year are worse than the ads for the previous year. Well, what do you expect when there are no surprises going in at all?

In 1992 you couldn't be spoiled in that way. The Washington Redskins faced the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVI. Super Bowl ads are still very hard to find and there still isn't a complete collection of them available anywhere. I have more than I did last year, but still not enough. If you run into unmarked Super Bowl ads from 2004 and earlier on the Net somewhere, I would appreciate an E-mail tip.

Right after the game opened, the first ad to run was Pepsi's. This is the one I remember the most vividly from Super Bowl 26, but it's not a pleasant memory, it's the "what were they thinking?" type. Pepsi changed their slogan during this game, and it was a HUGE GIGANTIC DEAL. To Pepsi.

They'd been using "The Choice of a New Generation" for much of the 80's, until an ad that ran the week before the Bowl showed an old pickup truck crashing into a Pepsi billboard, clipping the slogan off. They bought several solid blocks of First Quarter running time, only interrupted by a trailer for "Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot."

The big problem here is how much they overestimated our desire for soda. I mean, to the point where we would turn the billboard into a Woodstock-like mecca and start a national debate over what Pepsi's next slogan should be. I hate to be the one to crush your hopes, Pepsi, but nobody likes you THAT much.

They stuck with "Gotta Have It" for about a year, and even within that time, they adopted "Be Young Have Fun Drink Pepsi" as an unofficial yet more emphasized phrase. If connecting with youth was most important, the most accurate slogan they could adopt would be "I guess I'll have Pepsi." Doesn't sound as catchy though.

The bigger problem is that this ad is not funny, or visually interesting, or tells anything resembling a good short story. If you don't love Pepsi so much that you would build a concert around it, this ad has nothing else to offer you.

Imagine being a young boy in 1992, you're waiting for the beer bottles to start moving around and fight each other like they had done every year to this point, and instead of getting that, you get some stupid skit about a dope running around trying to grab his Bud Bowl ticket. He's GOTTA HAVE IT!

As they emphasize, having a "winning" ticket doesn't even mean you won, it means you're selected to POSSIBLY win. It's not worth getting killed over, dude. It's not.

This is something I never noticed until I started collecting Super Bowl ads: up to a certain point in time, Master Lock bought space in every single one of them. And for a while, they showed the same ad of a gun shooting the lock and not scratching it. I guess I wasn't paying attention's a lock, who cares.
Nolan Ryan for Advil. For those who don't know, Ryan was a famous baseball pitcher from this time period. "Ya gotta stick with what works, 'n that's why I use Advil. 'n steroids."
This was the year of Hare Jordan? Why'd that Pepsi ad come to mind first instead of this? "Hare Jordan" was a hugely successful ad, one of the only ads I've seen get its own line of T-shirts, not to mention a movie spinoff.

When I look back at it NOW....I realize it's not that great. The jokes are a bunch of stock Looney Tunes cliches. The "_____, isn't it?" gag shows up three times. There are jokes that only work with the element of surprise, and that old gag was one of them. Now Bugs is just doing it because he's always done it.

Someone every year has to get the "cute award." I nominate McDonalds for 1992 and this spot featuring pee-wee football.
1992 was the last year that the Winter and Summer Olympics took place within six months of each other. It's no surprise that many of these ads are about the Olympics -- they saved some dough by creating one campaign for two different events.

Halftime was also Olympics-related: Gloria Estefan was singing, but Brian Boitano and Dorothy Hamill were skating on some hastily-placed ice.

This is the best Bud ad to appear, if only for the creativity. I'm going to assume it's really physical stop-motion since this was the last year we could assume that.
If this appears to be nothing special, that's because you're not looking at it with 1992 eyes. People saw this then and thought "WHOA THAT CAR JUST CHANGED INTO A TIGER HOLY ^$@# HOW'D THEY DO THAT???"
Last time I talked about how savage phone ads were in the 90's. AT&T had just cut its rates, and so this simple text reply from Sprint said "You wanna go back to THEM? REALLY? They suck, remember?" For all the people who had no trouble with AT&T at all, this wouldn't apply. But competition was so tight that fighting over the smallest mass of consumers was considered worth it.
Another thing I remember 1992 for is Ray Charles and his Diet Pepsi campaign. He and his backup singers are in some kind of hearing because Diet Pepsi has an "unfair advantage" (uh-huh) and some bald angry men are demanding to know the secret. So Ray throws over a table to reveal his piano and starts crooning. It's a great way to segue into a pitch we'd become familar with. Somehow, when it comes to caveman-like product slogans, "Uh-huh" is much better than "Gotta Have It."
"Dan and Dave" was another Olympics-related campaign that ran in 15-second spots throughout the third quarter. CBS was also promoting the Olympics every chance it got, because it had the Winter rights that year. The Bowl would never be this Olympics-soaked again.
You could say Pepsi recovered from their first-quarter fumble in a big way. Debuting one of THE MOST ICONIC SODA ADS OF ALL TIME would do it.
GM does nothing but bore people to death. It was deep into the third quarter; the goal is to keep viewers from falling asleep, not encouraging them. The overall pace of the game didn't help: the Redskins were up 24-3.

And after this, some of the ads started repeating: we got the stop-motion football players again, followed by a second showing of Hare Jordan.

Fortunately, 7-Up came to the rescue in the fourth quarter with a trio of Spot spots. If it hadn't been for this, I would have skipped everything: it was more GM ads, one a minute and thirty seconds long.