Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric are together again and still clueless about technology.
The former Today Show hosts were reunited not on a morning show couch but in BMW’s i3 electric car for a Super Bowl ad that has them reliving a 1994 segment when they could not explain the Internet. The commercial, in just three days on YouTube, has more than 4.6 million views.
“What is the Internet anyway,” Gumbel asks. “Do you write to it like mail?” Gumbel was admitting he did not quite know how to tease a story that would have more information on the NBC website. “That little mark – a – with the ring around it.” A colleague offers the answer “at” with Gumbel saying, “That’s what I said. Katie said she thought it was ‘about.’ ”
An edited clip from that moment starts off the commercial and segues to them in the i3 21 years later, fumbling with the technology and not understanding that the car was built in a wind-powered factory.
Gumbel, with the same incredulous tone in his voice, starts off with, “What do you mean there’s nothing under the hood? Katie said she thought this was a car.”
Couric plays along as Gumbel doesn’t understand how a car could be built with wind. “Like a windmill?” Katie adds, “Or a fan? Or a turbine? Or a fanbine?”
The 1994 Today Show clip was edited by the producers of the BMW commercial to make them look less smart than they actually were in those early days of the internet.
In the un-edited clip, seen below with the commercial, Couric immediately understands the internet to be a massive computer network and the voice of an off-camera producer helps fill the information gap.
The commercial is funny and for a younger generation unfamiliar with the veteran journalists, the 1994 clip is a great set up.
Couric and Gumbel were the top-rated Morning Show hosts during the 1990s. After he left the Today Show, Gumbel became the host of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, which won a prestigious Peabody Award in 2012.
Couric was dubbed “America’s Sweetheart” and continued Today’s ratings domination with Matt Lauer before moving on to CBS to anchor the network’s evening news cast. In her debut with CBS in 2006, Couric, by then hip to the Internet, delivered the first newscast ever done simulcast live on the Internet.
With her internet ignorance behind her, Couric become the Global Anchor of Yahoo News last year.
The two are obviously willing to poke fun at themselves and the commercial closes with Couric snapping her fingers to Eddie Grant’s Electric Avenue and telling the oft-more-formal Gumbel to loosen up. “Do you twerk?” he asks. She says, “Maybe.”