Living with credit

Credit card ads from Super Bowls gone by

Jeremy Simon

Ahead of Super Bowl XLII on Sunday, let’s take a moment to remember some of the greatest moments from games gone by. That’s right — the ads. This being a blog, join me as I look back fondly (and not-so-fondly) at some of the credit card advertisements from past Super Bowl games (hat tip: Adland for their great list of Super Bowl commercials).

In reverse chronological order, the advertising gems are:

MasterCard — MacGyver (2006), Super Bowl XXXL
The everything-’80s-is-new-again trend got a kick start way back in ’06 with this MasterCard ad resurrecting resourceful action hero MacGyver, whose popular TV show ran from the mid-’80s to early-’90s. Back in those days, people solved problems with just their smarts and a semi-mullet, from what I understand. Ah, simpler times.

MasterCard — Homer (2004), Super Bowl XXXVIII
The greatest animated father of all time (apologies to Peter Griffin) runs errands with his MasterCard, getting things done as only Homer Simpson can. “Simpsons” regulars Apu, Moe, Lenny, Carl and Hans Moleman all make appearances.

Visa — Yao Ming — Yo (2003), Super Bowl XXXVII

Houston Rockets center Yao encounters language barriers as he tries to pick up souvenirs at a Big Apple store run by some stereotypical New York characters. Too bad they couldn’t get Harvey Keitel in there somewhere.

MasterCard — Dead Presidents (2003), Super Bowl XXXVII

George Washington, Abe Lincoln and Andrew Jackson wait impatiently at home while a guy enjoys his date and his Visa debit card. Incidentally, I’m pretty sure the guy who leaves his cash at home was a favorite among advertisers at one point, as I recall him appearing at least one other frequently-run ad (McDonald’s McGriddle, anyone? Didn’t think so.) around this same time.

Visa — Tiki & Ronde Barber — Twins — Part II (2003), Super Bowl XXXVII

Finally, a football-related Super Bowl ad. Tiki and Ronde Barber confuse a store clerk while trying to pay by check. This is probably the sort of traumatic thing that identical twins go through all the time — “You’re watching the Super Bowl, and you’re, like, playing in the Super Bowl.” The Barbers would later need years of therapy.


Visa — 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon (2002), Super Bowl XXXVI
You have to assume that if anyone was good at playing “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” it would be the man himself. Here, Mr. Bacon uses his mastery of the game to avoid having to show ID when paying with a check. Seems like a lot of work to avoid just reaching into your wallet, but who am I to judge?
American Express Blue — We’re Flexible (2001), Super Bowl XXXV

Robots are good at two things. One is stretching credit cards. The other is traveling into the past to kill John Connor before he can lead a human revolt against the intelligent machines.

American Express — Dana Carvey / Jon Lovitz (1989), Super Bowl XXIII
We had to really dig in the vaults for this one. Saturday Night Live castmembers Dana Carvey and Jon Lovitz star in this ad featuring horrible music (did advertisers actually find this type of music effective?), fast motion and abrasive voices. If having a Super Bowl in Miami during the late ’80s wasn’t a good excuse to get Carvey and Lovitz in white suits, then I don’t know what is.


OK — so which great Super Bowl credit card ads did I leave off? Check out the following story for information on football credit cards.

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  • Yallifornia

    Hard to believe the priceless ads go back that far. They’ve gotten some great mileage out of that.
    BTW: some robots are also good at turning into really, really cool Cameros.

  • Funny post – Super Bowl commercials are priceless.
    Did CapitalOne ever run any of their “What’s in your Wallet” ads during the Super Bowl?

  • Jeremy Simon

    Thanks. I thought I remembered some of those ads running during past games, but I was told by Capital One that they have not advertised during the Super Bowl.

  • MR. C.

    Good post. Informative and entertaining. Keep getting paid. Don’t let the interest get at you.

  • Mr. C.

    This was really cool. I am glad you got that together. You should get a raise.

  • AV

    Is there a site to view television ads online?

  • To AV:
    Hi. I’m’s editor in chief (Jeremy’s off today). If you mean the ones that we’ve been showing on cable TV, I’m afraid not.
    We do, however, have online a lot of the “person on the street” interviews we did, about what they know about credit cards, and what credit cards mean to them.
    Check it out at:

  • AV

    Yeah I was referring to one of the cable tv ads (trying to find the company that produced them)… hopefully I can catch it again. Thank you very much for taking the time to reply.