Tech Industry's Most Famous Super Bowl Ads

From Orwellian nightmares to singing sockpuppets, a look back at the tech ads that made waves on Super Bowl Sunday.

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The tech industry’s most famous Super Bowl ads

The tech ads that have shaped our lifetimes

The Super Bowl is the advertising industry’s biggest annual holiday, a time to unveil their smartest and funniest ads in front of an audience of nearly 100 million Americans. Although food and beverage companies such as Coke, McDonald’s and Budweiser have traditionally generated the most buzz, the tech industry has come on in recent years to create several memorable commercials, including E*Trade’s dancing monkey, EDS’ cat herders and’s… er, we’re not ever really sure what GoDaddy is trying to communicate with their ads, but they seem to make headlines. In this slideshow, we’ll take a look at the most famous Super Bowl tech ads and rate their effectiveness in changing the tech landscape.

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Xerox's "Monk" (1976)

The first ad from a tech company to make it big, Xerox's "Monk" ad tells the story of a diligent but exhausted medieval monk who can't stand the thought of copying the Bible by hand another hundred thousand times. His solution? Let Xerox handle it so he can sneak off for some quality time with the Communion wine.

Effectiveness: 4 out of 5. While Xerox copy machines are not as high-tech as iPhones or BlackBerries, in the 1970s they were still considered a big deal. With its wit and simple premise, this trailblazing tech ad laid the blueprint for all tech ads to come

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Apple's "1984" (1984)

In one of the most famous advertisements ever, Apple introduced its Macintosh computers to the world as an antidote to dystopian conformity. The agent for the Apple Revolution, oddly enough, was a hammer-wielding blonde woman clad in short shorts who rushed into an amphitheatre to smash a giant telescreen carrying the propagandistic messages of Big Brother.

Effectiveness: 5 out of 5. This ad is shown in marketing classes as a grade-A example of how to make an effective commercial. The ad also proved prophetic, as Apple's resurgence in the late ‘90s gave Windows-weary computer geeks an alternative to Big Brother Bill Gates.

Previous slide | Next slide >'s "When I Grow Up" (1999)

Back before the soulless corporate drones from the "1984" ad became soulless corporate drones, they were once happy, optimistic children with dreams of one day becoming soulless corporate drones. At least, that's the premise of's "When I Grow Up" ad, which depicted youngsters talking longingly about their future careers as "Yes" Men and Women.

Effectiveness: 3 out of 5. While the ad turned a lot of heads, chances are that hasn't helped many of its children escape their dismal fates as spineless brownnosers.

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Electronic Data Systems' "Cat Herders" (2000)

In this cute kitty commercial, a pack of stereotypically rough'n'tough ten-gallon-hat-wearin' frontiersmen talk about the difficulties and the rewards of herding uncooperative felines. The point of the commercial is that Electronic Data Systems is a lot like the cat herders, except they herd e-businesses instead.

ZEffectiveness: 4 out of 5. Who doesn't love cute kitties?

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E*Trade's "Monkey" (2000)

The premise is devastatingly simple: Two men and a monkey do goofy stuff in front of a camera and it costs E*Trade $2 million to air because it's going on during the Super Bowl. The message: investing your money in E*Trade is a good idea despite the fact that E*Trade specializes in wasting money.

Effectiveness: 2 out of 5. Seeing how well the stock market has done over the past year, that dancing monkey looks like an absolute bargain by comparison.

Previous slide | Next slide >'s puppet sings us a tune

Back when everyone thought that dot-com stock prices would keep going up forever, unleashed this dog of an ad of its infamously annoying sock puppet barking out Chicago's "If You Leave Me Now" in a hideously off-key howl.

Effectiveness: 1 out of 5. Woof. The puppet's crooning couldn't save its parent company from permanently rolling over and playing dead less than a year later.

Previous slide | Next slide >'s "Wardrobe Malfunction" (2005)

Riffing off of Janet Jackson's notorious "wardrobe malfunction" during the previous Super Bowl's halftime show, this ad featured large-chested professional wrestler Candice Michelle dancing around and shaking her booty in front of Congress. Other than annoying prudes, this ad had seemingly little point.

Effectiveness: 1 out of 5 Can anyone figure out what actually does?

Previous slide | Next slide >'s "Monkeys" (2006)

Since one monkey worked so well for E*Trade six years earlier, decided to employ several monkeys to act as a metaphor for just how awful working at an office job can be. In reality, of course, being stuffed into a building full of monkeys would be a welcome diversion for the vast majority of workers in the United States.

Effectiveness: 4 out of 5 The monkey lighting a cigar with money is just too awesome.

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The tech industry’s most famous Super Bowl ads

Did we miss anything?

What are your favorite Super Bowl tech ads? Did we miss any of your old favorites? Let us know in the comments!



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This story, "Tech Industry's Most Famous Super Bowl Ads " was originally published by Network World.

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