Why the Super Bowl Halftime Show Wasn't Cool Until 1993

A 20-minute station break became a modern marketing extravaganza

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The turning point was 1993. For the 26 Super Bowls preceding, the halftime show had been little more than a glorified station break: 20 minutes to run to the bathroom, fetch a beer and stir the onion dip.

While the occasional fading star made an appearance (Carol Channing in 1972, for example), the early halftimes—however well choreographed and well intentioned—amounted to a cultural cringe-o-rama. Fans of a certain age might remember 1989’s Elvis Presto, a Vegas-style King impersonator who did card tricks.



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This story first appeared in the Feb. 7, 2022, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.