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It was a first: Publishers Clearing House and the story of the first Live On-Location Super Bowl ad

If you are a fan of Super Bowl commercials you are aware of the headlines Snickers is making for their plans to run the first live commercial during the Super Bowl. The ad, starring actor Adam Driver, will be broadcast on February 5 during the most-watched live TV event in the U.S.

What you might not know is that the first live on-location spot to air as part of a Super Bowl broadcast was actually in 1995. Publishers Clearing House surprised its $10 million winner by broadcasting the spot live with an intro by their own Todd Sloane as the Prize Patrol surprised the winner at the door. The spots aired during the first commercial break of the post-game show.

Forget about rehearsal, this was the only Super Bowl commercial that the stars didn’t know they were set to appear until moments before it aired. Mary Ann Brandt opened the front door to find lights, cameras, and PCH executives declaring her the winner of the $10 million Publishers Clearing House prize. If  she saved her winnings Mary Ann would be able to buy a commercial spot on this year’s telecast for a cool 5 million dollars.

The commercials were produced and directed by D S Simon Media. PCH and D S Simon partnered for a total of 21 live spots from 1995-2002 including 8 Super Bowls.

“What was exciting about the entire process is that we did not know who the winner was going to be until Tuesday of Super Bowl week. The it was rush to put all the pieces of the production together and see the joy on the winners face” said Doug Simon, producer of the commercial and President & CEO of D S Simon Media.

Other notables appearing in the Publishers Clearing House commercials include Tom Bergeron, the current host of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars

Here’s how Dateline NBC covered the live commercial story in January, 1995.