Shearson Lehman Hutton, the investment bank formed when American Express unit Shearson Lehman bought E.F. Hutton & Co., used Super Bowl XXII to take a stand on program trading, automated stock buying that some were blaming for Black Monday -- the 1987 stock market crash.
The idea was that computers contributed to the sell-off of Oct. 19, 1987, by executing standing orders to unload stock under certain conditions. Others such as Merrill Lynch made suggestions similar to Shearson Lehman Hutton's, albeit in newspaper ads rather than on advertising's largest stage.
As it happened, high program trading may have contributed to volatility on Black Monday but did not coincide with the biggest price drops. Nor was Shearson Lehman Hutton a major practitioner, rivals sniped: Bear, Stearns & Co. Chairman Alan Greenberg said Shearson Lehman Hutton quitting program trading on its own account was ''like me saying I won't date Elizabeth Taylor anymore.''
Diet Coke would use a similar presentation in 1991, when it abandoned its planned creative for a Super Bowl sweepstakes at the last minute amid Gulf War fighting ("Crack the Code").
American Express later sold the Shearson brokerage and asset management operation to Primerica, which merged it into Smith Barney, and spun off the investment banking operation as Lehman Brothers.
BRAND: Shearson Lehman Hutton