Communal television events are a powerful sociological phenomenon, but for many reasons, including Covid, viewership is down. Award shows are not drawing like they used to. Even the Olympics is seeing smaller numbers. But that’s not the case for the Super Bowl. According to Ipsos, “57% say they’re just as excited for this year’s game as they were for last year’s, if not more so. And excitement for the ads is high – in fact, 36% say they’re more excited about the ads than the game.”
The Super Bowl is like a double feature or an entertainment sandwich. Once a year, commercials, normally thought of as annoying interruptions to skip over, become an anticipated element of this major television event, surrounded by the final (and, hopefully, exciting) gridiron match-up.
The ads are fun to watch, but they also say something about how our commercial world and we as consumers are changing. The most notable new entries this year are cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and the metaverse, but also a focus on health and an uptick in electric vehicles.
Here’s a preview of a few of the ads to air on Sunday.
1. Favorites so far:
Uber Eats or Uber Don’t Eats: Combining an effort to win the “most celebrities” prize with a wonderfully clever twist to remind customers that they deliver more than food : They also keep the brand name front and center. Favorite lines: “Thanks to Uber Eats, we don’t even know what food is anymore!” from Trevor Noah, and “I just got so excited!” from Jennifer Coolidge. Also watch for Gwyneth Paltrow and Nicholas Braun.
Nissan: Spoofing the action movie genre, the power of the new Nissan Z transforms Eugene Levy into a fearless action star driving through explosions and off the roof of a parking ramp. Favorite lines: “Well, cock-a-doodle-do” and “Watch the coffee.” So far it’s a tie for the most celebrities. #ThrillDriver also stars Brie Larson, Danai Gurira, and Dave Bautista.
Michelob Ultra spoofs The Big Lebowski, starting with Steve Buscemi setting up bowling shoes and Michelob Ultras as a lineup of sports stars eye each other, all set to ELO’s Showdown. Hard-core sports fans will know these faces, but the rest of us will be scrambling to name them all: Peyton Manning, golfer Brooks Koepka, soccer legend Alex Morgan, and basketball stars Jimmy Butler and Nneka Ogwumike. It closes with Buscemi pronouncing “Game time,” as Serena Williams makes her entrance in the movie’s iconic purple jumpsuit. Now, it’s gonna be a showdown. With seven celebrities, it wins the contest.
2. Crypto Bowl?
WSJ is calling this year’s Super Bowl the “Crypto Bowl” since this is the first-time cryptocurrencies will be advertising during the game. It’s a debut of sorts, giving the category some legitimacy, but does that really mean it’s the crypto bowl? More important than chips, beer, and EVs?
Crypto.com has not released a new commercial since the Matt Damon “Fortune favors the brave” spot from last October. Will they run that again?
Bitbuy has a fun piece reminding Kyle Lowry of how many opportunities he’s missed again and again and again. But it only plays in Canada. Too bad.
FTX Crypto: “FTX is giving away the time their add runs in bitcoin” proclaims a teaser. Maybe they’ll also run Tom Brady talking about a trade setting off a frenzy of fans’ love/hate relationship with him—but not that kind of trade. “The most trusted way to buy and sell crypto.”
Meta, the company, and the metaverse have had so much coverage that we’re forgetting that “meta” is more about being self-referential or consciously commenting back upon the original category or features. Meta, the company, is in this group but interestingly this year so are others.
Booking.com: Idris Elba talks to other spokespeople—Isaiah Mustafa of Old Spice and Johnathan Goldsmith from Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man In The World– to get advice for his big Super Bowl spokesperson gig. “Booking.yeah” is a smart, catchy new tag.
Meta Quest: It’s already been said that “Meta is going Meta” but it’s fun to watch as Meta shows us how some nostalgic characters have a new life of their own.
Lay’s teaser features Paul Rudd and Seth Rogan making sense of being in a really short teaser for an already really short Super Bowl commercial.
4. Making The World A Better Place
With growing focus on ESG and DEI, there are sure to be a lot more entries in the category. We certainly need it.
Expedia: Ewen McGregor shines a light on the longer-lasting benefit of experiences versus the momentary meaning of things. Good line: “Do you think we’ll look back on our life and regret the things we didn’t buy or the places we didn’t go?”
Google Pixel with Real Tones: “Camera technology hasn’t accurately represented darker skin tones.” Google Pixel 6 has changed that. Set to a Lizzo soundtrack singing “Cause if you love me you love all of me” and the tag line “Everyone deserves to be seen as they truly are.”
Salesforce spokesperson Matthew McConaughey thinks we should ditch the metaverse and engage with people and restore the earth—plant more trees, build more trust, make more space for all of us. “#TeamEarth are companies and people who believe that business is about more than profit for a few — business needs to be accountable to every person and the planet we share.”
With the number of EV commercials this year, it could be called the EV and Crypto Bowl. There will be more to watch than what is listed below and definitely more models and brands on the horizon.
BMW iX: Retiring is a big transition, even for gods like Zeus (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Hera (Selma Hayek). The indignities are many. “Not even Zeus, the famous Greek god of lightning, is safe from getting his name mispronounced by the local café barista.”
And Zeus is bored helping to charge earthly electric devices but finds new life with the all-electric BMW iX.
Kia EV6: A robot dog is left behind (maybe?) and runs out of power. But gets recharged by the kind Kia owner with the tag “live life fully charged.”
Hyundai IONIQ 5 has Jason Bateman explain how the long co-evolution of mankind and technology has brought us many conveniences. It’s been a long wait for electric cars, but worth it.
6. Entertain Me
The perennial favorite category. We just want to laugh at the funny commercials. We deserve to laugh, right?
Alexa: In this spot, Alexa can read the minds of Colin Jost and Scarlett Johansson. “Is it a good idea? No, it’s not.” You be the judge.
eTrade: This teaser hints that the baby is back. One of the best recurring characters. “He’s out there somewhere. We’re pretty sure.”
Finished laughing? How about a little feel-good time?
P&G Good Everyday is a beautiful tribute to parents and the support they provide to get us where we want to go and be who we want to be.
Budweiser: The 11-second teaser answers the question “Are the Clydesdales back?”
And as expected the full piece pulls at the heartstrings from celebrated director Chloé Zhao.
….And one more for the road
Folgers #DamnRightItsFolgers wants to reintroduce itself, supported by Joan Jett’s Bad Reputation. Other mature brands can learn a lot from this confident, fun, hip strategy. To be honest, I’m not sure if this is a Super Bowl commercial or not, but it should be!