Katie Couric, Bryant Gumbel Revisit Hilariously Clueless 1994 Today Clip in BMW’s Super Bowl Ad

What is that @ symbol, anyway?

Headshot of Alfred Maskeroni

The year was 1994. Ace of Base saw "The Sign." O.J. Simpson's white Bronco sped down the freeway. And of course, this thing called the Internet was a tiny baby. And Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric were desperately trying to figure it out.

A now-famous Today show clip from '94 features Gumbel and Couric cluelessly talking about the Internet. They can't seem to grasp the concept of an email address or the @ symbol.

"Katie said she thought it was 'about,' " says Gumbel.

"Or 'around,' " adds Couric.

"I've never heard it said, I've only seen the mark," continues Gumbel. "What is 'Internet' anyway? Do you write to it like mail?"

"Allison," Couric asks her producer, "can you explain what 'Internet' is?" 

Fast-forward to today, and BMW is using the amusing clip—followed by Gumbel and Couric talking today, just as cluelessly, about the futuristic i3 electric vehicle—in its 2015 Super Bowl ad from Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal + Partners, released Monday morning:

As an added bonus—and arguably the gem of the campaign—BMW has given us outtakes from the shoot, featuring Couric, and the curmudgeonly Gumbel actually cracking a smile (and a couple of funny jokes) every now and then:

In the behind-the-scenes clip below, Gumbel gives a little insight into his perspective. "People are inclined to ask, 'Aren't you embarassed by that clip—are you angry about that clip? I say, 'No! I'm not at all! I'm amused by it.' I watched The Jetsons years ago, so I kind of thought we'd be in a jetpack, ya know, flying over things … I guess one day we'll get there, but for the time being, the electric car is the way to go."

It's a fun enough campaign. And to be fair, I've also found myself thinking about the enigmatic "@" symbol of late, as you can see from this tweet just last week:

@maskeroni alfred.maskeroni@adweek.com Alfred Maskeroni is director of video for Adweek.