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Meta Superbowl Commercials Just Got a Lot More Meta

Around 1998, Super Bowl commercials got meta. But this year, it's worse. This year, people are running commercials, for their Super Bowl commercials

The score doesn’t matter, only the ads. Ryan Buterbaugh

Around 1998, Super Bowl commercials got meta. Take this one, for example. It’s an ad for FedEx:

Then, in 2000, the website LifeMinders.com (shocker, no longer in business) played this commercial:

And E*Trade (shocker, still in business despite their creepy baby commercials) paid millions for this ad:

Essentially, around 1998, having a Super Bowl commercial became so much of a thing, that it was a thing you could make your entire commercial about. But if you thought those commercials were meta, get ready to have your mind blown. This year, people are running commercials…for their Super Bowl commercials.

Here’s Volkswagen’s preview:

The clothing company Gildan put out this preview:

Audi is letting the world vote for the ending to its Superbowl commercial:

And Doritos is letting fans vote on the whole darn thing. So while Super Bowl commercials have always been kind of weird, advertisers are stepping it up with pre-advertising this year. Which, really, makes sense, since that thirty second slot costs millions of dollars. Maximizing its impact could make it worth the money.

More from Smithsonian.com:

The Super Bowl’s Love Affair With Jetpacks
The Super Bowl Goes Social

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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