Now, for what you’ve all been waiting for…
Performance: Michael Jackson (1993)
Until Michael Jackson came to town in 1993, the halftime entertainment at the Super Bowl was one of marching bands or collectives. However, by the nineties, there was a general consensus that these had become culturally irrelevant. Celebrities took up the mantle of creating the modern Super Bowl experience, and who better than the King of Pop to kick off this tradition?
Michael Jackson’s appearance elevated the phenomenon of the Super Bowl to what it is known as today. Spectators greeted his contorted entrance with rapturous applause before he stood soaking up the acclaim. Then, without warning, he tore into a rendition of ‘Jam’ before the staple Billy Jean triggered widespread wonder and delight.
In keeping with the tradition of the Up the World acts that preceded him and flanked by people of all backgrounds and cultures, songs such as ‘Black and White’ and the closing anthem ‘Heal the World’ promoted a clear message of tolerance and a willingness of Americans to unite.
Although Prince’s 2007 performance with a marching band has a claim to be the most memorable halftime performance, especially ‘Purple Rain’ and its accompanying downpour, only Michael Jackson could have made this tradition such an indispensable part of the Super Bowl.
Watch it here.
Advertisement: Budweiser (1995)
As time has gone on, another salient ingredient of any Super Bowl has become the advertisements, and the commercial revenue that they bring in. Now, the zenith for any brand is to claim a spot at the Super Bowl.
Since the inception of the competition, there have been countless creative ways of disseminating a brand’s message. These ranged from celebrities, to jingles to even animals. Among those that stick out are Dove’s 2006 advert that celebrated natural beauty and Cola Cola’s sojourn to an Italian hill top in 1971 with the catchy ‘I want to buy the world a coke’, that smashed advert budgets at the time.
However, one of the most memorable adverts was brazen in its simplicity. When three frogs begin their dissonant song in a dark pond surrounded by crickets, there may be confusion, but the true purpose soon dawns on the viewer. With one frog croaking ‘Bud’ and the other two ‘Weis’ and ‘Er’, the burps perfectly match the beer.
Finally, the syncing of the three sounds and the LED Budweiser sign show the power of images. There is no need for bravado here. A recognition that in the modern world, a big brand need not overwhelm: it speaks for itself.
Watch it here.