Fifty years of super bowl commercials, thirty-two years of spectacular consumption

Matthew P. McAllister, Elysia Galindo-Ramirez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This article will explore the role and visibility of advertising during the Super Bowl over the years as a model for strategies of modern advertising and the resulting commercialization of US society. It uses the concepts of ‘spectacular consumption’ derived from Guy Debord and the ‘commodity audience’ from Dallas Smythe to frame the commercials’ cultural transformation and influence. The spectacular nature of Super Bowl commercials and the special commodity worth of its audience were not present in the early days of the event, but gained momentum with Super Bowl XVII and its airing of Apple’s '1984' commercial that became mythologized in the advertising industry. After 1984, both the rising inflation-adjusted CPM (‘cost-perthousand’) and the increased media coverage indicate an increased spectacularization. This also manifested in such phenomena as the influential, decades-long Doritos user-generated content contests and the Greatest Super Bowl Commercials TV specials, and was a forerunner of such post-millennial advertising strategies as branded entertainment and content marketing, all designed to integrate advertising as a legitimate form of entertainment culture and prevent the avoidance of advertising by audiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-64
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of the History of Sport
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 22 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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