Everyone’s been hyped all week for the adorable puppy in the Budweiser Super Bowl ad and the Full House reunion in an Oikos Greek yogurt commercial, but companies aren’t the only ones taking advantage of one of the most-watched television events of the year. Bud Light released a teaser titled “Arnold Zipper,” which features the former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.) slowly zipping up his warm-up jacket and teasingly saying “Surprise.”
Gov. Rick Snyder (R-Mich.), who is running for re-election, will also appear in an ad on Sunday on Michigan TV stations airing the big game. Schwarzenegger and Snyder join a long list of politicians who’ve appeared in ads during the Super Bowl over the years.
Right after he’d lost the 1996 election to Pres. Bill Clinton, former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) appeared in a Visa ad, where he goes back to Kansas and makes fun of himself, saying, “I just can’t win” after his personal check is rejected for lack of identification. Five years later, he delivered the punchline in a Pepsi commercial with Britney Spears.
In 1994, former Vice Pres. Dan Quayle appeared in a Lay’s Potato chips ad with a young Elijah Wood.
Politicians have also used the Super Bowl to broadcast their political messages. In 2012, then New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) and Boston Mayor Tom Merino (D) headlined a gun control ad during the game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots, joking that “We don’t agree on much.” Their organization, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, also aired an ad last year after the Newtown shooting in support of background checks for gun purchases.
Just a couple of years ago, Clint Eastwood, who once served as the mayor of Carmel, California, starred in an ad for Chrysler that some interpreted as supporting President Obama’s re-election bid. Eastwood denied that was the point of the ad and ultimately became a major headline himself at Mitt Romney’s GOP convention for his unscripted dialogue with an empty chair.
Sometimes ads that don’t make air still make headlines. In 2004, liberal group MoveOn.org made an anti-Bush ad that was rejected by CBS. But it ended up receiving plenty of views on the Internet without the cost of actually paying for it to air during the Super Bowl.
The intersection of politics and the Super Bowl has also had a major tangential storyline in recent years when an Obama supporter posted a parody of a 1984 Apple ad online that became central in the Democratic primary fight with then Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.).