Where the Celebrity Ads went during the Super Bowl: What the Movies and TV Movies Spots Were Themselves About
Advertisers are trying to justify the $7 million price tag for a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl by showing campaigns that feel as big as the game.
This year, the scale tipped heavily toward celebrity talent and in some instances, thrown together in incongruous bunches, in commercials that were loud but frequently didn’t make sense.
For example, if the talent has some kind of link to the product, or even in a way that advances the message, it will help. Being cute for its own sake is fine, but it rarely gets memorable.
Thanks to the logic of that, Rakuten, a shopping site, for getting “Beverly Hills, 90320” starAlicia Silverstone to reprise her role as Cher, which she walked into like an old private-school uniform.
Then again, this year’s crop of beer ads were mostly flat, especially given the high bar that Budweiser has customarily set for Super Bowls past. If you were confused, you could say the Miller-Coors-Blue Moon spot was fun.
As was noted before the game, crypto ads that sought to make a splash at Super Bowl LVI sat out this year’s showcase, a reminder that newer product categories brave entering the Super Bowl derby at their own peril.
Where were the other highlights, which were outnumbered (as usual) by the middling or low ones? Here is a breakdown of the people who scored on the biggest stage. If an ad featured four or more celebrities, you assume it leaned toward theloser column.
Movies: The movie business hasn’t rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, but the number of ads for upcoming blockbusters (and hoped-for blockbusters) felt like a collective vote of confidence in theatrical movie-going. Hollywood will likely never completely bounce back in the streaming age, but the studios appeared to serve notice that they’re not giving up without a fight.
Of that roster of titles, give the nod to “The Flash,” which should stoke enormous interest in that Warner Bros. title (like CNN, a unit of Warner Bros. Discovery), and put the focus on the film instead of star Ezra Miller’s off-screen issues. There were spots for the movies “Indiana Jones” and “Creed” among the sequels, as well as for the movies “Transformers” and “Guardians of the Golden Age.” Also featured: “Air,” based on Michael Jordan’s Nike deal.
Takeaway Super-Boundaries: What Comes Beyond T-Mobile, Pepsi Zero Sugar, Amazon, Google and Disney
T-Mobile. Bradley Cooper and his mom were very cute when he was told that he hasn’t won anything despite being nominated for some things. Much better, alas, than its John Travolta “Grease” homage.
No sugar:Pepsi Zero Sugar. Steve Martin and Ben Stiller gave mini-classes on acting. So, do they really drink this stuff? Probably not, but it was fun to watch them pretend, and enhanced by the one-two punch of it.
The idea of a “Breaking Bad” reunion gets a high mark even though the snack food product might not have been the ideal vehicle for it.
Watching a dogs life unfold and thinking about losing one, served as one of the few genuine tearjerkers of the day, and on a lighter note, getting a destructive pooch a pal, via Amazon.
Google: Another spot that brought together unlikely celebrities – Amy Schumer, Doja Cat and NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo – but in a clever demonstration of how its pixel product can “fix” old photos.
Disney: The studio was marking its 100th anniversary and ran a spot to show off its extensive content and hold on to childhood memories.
An evangelical campaign to tell the story of Jesus, his father, and the future: The Case of Fox & Maya Rudolph during the first Super Bowl
Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen: After the histrionics of Fox’s pregame show (never mind the issues with the sound being off), the announcers – handling their first Super Bowl – rose to the occasion, with a solid call that identified the problems with the field, debated a “game-altering penalty” at the end; didn’t get in the way of the action and reminded everyone this was, after all, a football game.
There could be no sure sign that showbusiness is tighter than it is with the teaming up ofNetflix and GM for a Super Bowl ad. But this one’s a winner, with Saturday Night Live alum Will Ferrell inserted into Netflix shows like Squid Game and Army of the Dead, promising that the streamer will feature more electric vehicles in their shows (okay, probably not a period piece like Bridgerton, though seeing Ferrell trying to pronounce “shan’t” in a frilly shirt and fancy coat was still kind of funny.)
HeGetsUs.com. The ads for this evangelical campaign were certainly arresting in reminding people, say, that Jesus was a refugee, and to love everyone. Despite being an ad that played Sunday, the goal of its message seemed confusing and a perception reinforced by details about the group behind it.
It felt like every other advertiser stuck their codes inside their commercials this year, after Coinbase’s ad in the Super Bowl of 2022, where they had a QR code embedded.
Another trend also stuck out: a rise in ads for products normally considered adult vices, including liquor (via the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl for Crown Royal), sports betting and a wider variety of beers (since Anheuser-Busch gave up its exclusivity, allowing Molson-Coors to come play).
Tucker Carlson criticized changes in the characters as being too “woke”, something which M&M’s had announced they would pause use of. New pitchwoman Maya Rudolph was selected to take over, but her ad during the game changed the name of the candies and put clams in the center of every pellet. The punchline in the M&M’s spot was “The candies were coming back for good, with the purple M&M”, which Carlson had criticized. Well done, candy.
The company, which specializes in fresh dog food, didn’t create the Super Bowl’s most moving ad by hiring a famous pitchperson or filling their spot with fancy effects. They traced the story of a woman who promised to love her dog forever, starting when she was a little girl and the dog was a puppy and ending when the owner has a baby of her own and her trusty pet is still there — but with a little gray in his coat. Viewers on social media said the ad brought them to tears. I got a speck of dirt in my eye as I watched it. Honest.) The buzz proved that strong storytelling and a cute puppy trumps most other advertising gimmicks come Super Bowl time.
It may seem odd to call the ad a “nostalgic” because it was centered on characters from the show that ended 10 years ago. Still, this hoary TV fan couldn’t help feeling a thrill, watching Bryan Cranston’s Walter White, Aaron Paul’s Jesse Pinkman and Raymond Cruz’s Tuco Salamanca revive the spirit of Breaking Bad while pretending air popped crisps are some kind of controlled substance. And it’s a pleasure to see a Super Bowl ad used to remind viewers of one of the best TV series ever to hit the small screen.
Having Adam Driver in your Super Bowl ad is cool. So I don’t blame Squarespace for deciding even more Drivers would be even cooler. The ad had multiple copies of the actor in a desert field, saying ” website that makes websites” before being ripped into a giant glowing ball called The Singularity. A storyline that looks like it was hatched during a peyote bender is the only information an ad gives you about the product. The “teaser” ad had multiple Drivers hanging out backstage much better than I had seen before.
This film has had problems, including the public meltdown of star Ezra Miller. But the Super Bowl ad for The Flash is so packed with compelling revelations — from the return of Zod to a new Supergirl — that it seems more understandable why Warner Bros. is committed to getting this movie in theaters. They can have all of my money after I watched Michael Keaton utter “I’m Batman” back in 1989.
If someone had told me Michelob was planning a homage to Caddyshack with Serena Williams as Chevy Chase’s character, Brian Cox as Ted Knight’s character and Tony Romo doing a passable Bill Murray impression, I would have told them to save their $7 million. I would have been wrong. Because somehow this ad — with an added cameo from original co-star Michael O’Keefe — references just enough of Caddyshack’s absurdly fun spirit to be entertaining, while stacking the cast with faces the Netflix generation might actually know.
Much as I love me some John Travolta, the bald, bearded guy who keeps making uncomfortable appearances in Super Bowl ads — he did the Grease dance with grown daughter Ella in a spot two years ago — is not my favorite. He did a recreation of the classic number from Grease, “Summer Nights,” with his Scrubs co-stars. As viewers got a look of nostalgia and celebrity, it reminded them of how strange Travolta is these days.
The same problem occurs with the purchase of a cool celebrity, Sean “P.Diddy” Combs, and then trapping him in a terribly unfunny commercial. A bunch of artists are considered to be one hit wonders because they wrote terrible versions of their old songs, so they are used by P.C. in this case as one hit wonders. I think most viewers won’t notice the current look of artists like Montell Jordan and the jingle they make out of Haddaway’s dance classic, “What Is Love”, just because they look similar to the hack his critics have always said he was.
This is another problem which often crops up in Super Bowl ads; in this case, the “teaser” spots — short blips of content, usually dropped early to preview the Big Game ad — are more entertaining than the actual commercial. Steve Martin’s spot where he dares the audience to guess if he’s acting is funnier than the one where Ben Stiller is in, due to the fact that both are stars here. Stiller’s Super Bowl spot is more entertaining, in part because he calls back to his Derek Zoolander character — more nostalgia! — and he’s in funnier situations overall.