The 1981 adland Super Bowl XV superbowl commercial collection

The game was between the American Football Conference (AFC) champion Oakland Raiders and the National Football Conference (NFC) champion Philadelphia Eagles.

The Raiders defeated the Eagles by the score of 27–10, becoming the first wild card playoff team to win a Super Bowl. And that is all that I know about American Football.

The commercials, on the other hand, are a fun peek into the past, with a lot of beer ads floating to the top and plenty of celebrities as usual. Back in 1981 a thirty-second spot would set you back $324,000.

Among the better and more memorable ads, we find a "reach out and touch someone" classic. Back when long-distance calling was very expensive, Indiana Bell sold their services as high value in "the kids are fine". I always wondered if this inspired Stevie Wonder to just call and say he loves you. 

The Kids Are Fine


Mean Joe Green appeared once again in the Superbowl, where the kid gives him a Coke and gets a shirt in return. This ad made lots of advertising people Steelers fans, despite never paying attention to the actual game. ;)

The Coke Girl got married, and all over America boys who nursed a crush on the quintessential 80s girl-next-door had their hearts broken a little. 


This man is stuck in the office needing to send 1777 packages to 1777 places overnight, and the copy even takes a stab at Fedex as one of the places phoned said "said absolutely positively no"


"Live" super bowl ads are nothing new, beers had a live taste test in 1981. Schlitz vs. Michelob Live even had referees! 

In another Coke ad, we went to the prom. Coke really wanted to be the drink of festivities.

McDonald's focused on breakfast telling the story of how the humble egg reaches their restaurant. 

OJ Simpson got himself a getaway car at Hertz! It was not a Ford Bronco. 


Sheraton did a musical number singing about taste, which may be the most eighties ad at Broadway number I've ever seen.


It wouldn't be an 80s super bowl commercial break without Masterlock shooting a lock at some point. Touch under fire is their motto.


Remember when all you had to do was have a tiger walk past and then morph into a logo to make a super bowl ad? Yeah, it was that simple.

Superbowl has to have their own superbowl celebrities in the ads, so naturally we'll find a retired coach here acting as himself, though John Madden claims he's not the same at all!

Regular celebrities always have to appear in Superbowl ads, here's James Garner and Mariette Hartler talking about polaroid cameras.


Please enjoy, and do check the rest of the 1981 superbowl commercials here.

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Neo's picture

Thanks for this, I laughed at OJ getaway car.