These days, the vast majority of Super Bowl ads make their TV debut during the big game, but it wasn’t until the ’70s when spots were created specifically for that telecast.
Rob Lowe told Adweek that he appeared in the very first ad made for a Super Bowl: a 1977 Coca-Cola ad, which was his very first acting paycheck.
“We didn’t understand what that meant, because it had never been done,” said Lowe of appearing in a Super Bowl spot.
Lowe said the spot was shot in one continuous take, “which was unheard of in those days. It climbed up the exterior of a tenement, looked in every window. Every window was a slice of life: two guys drinking their Coke, a guy playing his guitar and singing on the rooftop and that was it. Really simple, really beautiful, and I was the little kid at the bottom of the tenement steps. And that was my introduction to show business.”
The actor, who now stars on the CBS drama Code Black, said in his 2011 autobiography, Stories I Only Tell My Friends, that he was paid $2,500 for the Coca-Cola ad, and framed the check. “I’m basically an extra,” he wrote, “but you’d have thought I was starring in a major motion picture.”
Coca-Cola told Adweek that while Lowe’s recollection of the ad, called “Apartment,” is accurate, the company isn’t able to confirm that it was specifically created for the Super Bowl.
Two years later, Coca-Cola was behind one of the most memorable commercials ever to air during a Super Bowl—“Hey Kid, Catch!”—in which injured Pittsburgh Steeler “Mean” Joe Greene receives a Coke from a kid, and tosses him his jersey in return—though that ad debuted a few months prior to its appearance in the 1980 Super Bowl.
Lowe partnered with Coca-Cola again in 2015. In a social media ad for celebrity social media platform WhoSay, the actor posted a Facebook video in which he surprised his son Matthew with a new dog, and they celebrated with a Coca-Cola Life.