Super Bowl Commercials: Lots of Celebrities, Not Much Politics

This year’s Super Bowl saw the Kansas City Chiefs defeat the San Francisco 49ers, but not before well-known sponsors battled for viewers’ attention off the field with flashy, celebrity-filled commercials.
In a Verizon commercial that quickly went viral, Beyoncé once again made waves on the internet with a music release. Lionel Messi flaunted his seeming allegiance to Michelob Ultra. T-Mobile, e.l.f. cosmetics, Uber Eats, and other companies hosted numerous small TV show reunions that brought together cast members from popular shows like “Suits” and “Friends.”

It’s election year in the United States, but Sunday’s offerings were largely unremarkable, save for one advertisement from American Values 2024, the super PAC supporting Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s presidential bid. It ran a thirty-second ad in the style of the 1950s that tried to capitalize on his family’s history. Kennedy began his independent presidential campaign last year.
It’s not easy to air a Super Bowl commercial. Brands pay an estimated $7 million for a 30-second spot during the game, but they also hire the biggest stars, splash out on eye-catching special effects, and work hard to create an advertisement that will stick in the memory of the more than 100 million spectators.

This year, marketers are making every effort to get through the noise, according to Tim Calkins, a marketing professor at Northwestern University. “They’re pulling out all the stops.”
Several advertisers used lightheartedness and nostalgia on Sunday to infuse game breaks with a whimsical, largely “feel good” vibe. There were, however, also a few solemn and serious moments.
This is a summary of the advertisements that viewers of Super Bowl LVIII saw.
“Twists on it”: Kris Jenner and Oreo. Chris Pratt is revealed to be the face hidden behind the recognizable mustache of Pringles. Ice Spice sip Starry as Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez make surprise appearances on Dunkin’ Donuts.

As is customary for the Super Bowl, celebs appeared in a number of corporate advertisements, frequently packing multiple celebrities into a single spot. For their “Magenta Status” client appreciation program, T-Mobile, for instance, featured celebrities such as Bradley Cooper, Common, Jennifer Hudson, Laura Dern, and Gabriel Macht and Patrick J. Adams from “Suits” in a single advertisement.
The “Suits” reunion didn’t end there, either. In a different e.l.f. cosmetics advertisement including numerous celebrity cameos, such as Judy Sheindlin as “Judge Judy,” Gina Torres, Rick Hoffman, and Sarah Rafferty appeared in a mock courtroom scene.

During the game, there were many reunion moments in NBC sitcoms. Jennifer Aniston appears to have forgotten she has ever collaborated with her “Friends” co-star David Schwimmer in an Uber Eats commercial that features people forgetting things to remember Uber Eats can deliver a broad array of items. Aubrey Plaza also claims she can have a “Blast” doing anything in an advertisement for Mountain Dew Baja Blast, even reuniting with her “Parks and Recreation” employer Nick Offerman while they soar on dragons.
Star power in Super Bowl ads is nothing new, but this year felt particularly intense.

“In the past, a celebrity would appear and serve as the commercial’s spokesperson,” Jessica D. Collins from Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter remarked. “Now you’re seeing collaborations of celebrities… all in the same commercial, even (when) they have absolutely nothing to do with each other.”
Some firms can do this cleverly by making use of internal jokes and pop culture references. However, analysts claim that overdoing celebrity cameos can lessen the advertisement’s impact. According to Linli Xu, an associate professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota, viewers can recall the stars they saw in an advertisement but not the company name.

Without some animal companions, the Super Bowl wouldn’t be the same. For instance, Budweiser revived well-known characters for its gameday spot, which has a Labrador retriever and Clydesdales working together to help the beer company deliver. Additionally, Hellmann’s had the “Mayo Cat.”
However, Kimberly Whitler, a marketing expert at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, pointed out that the year’s advertisements weren’t quite a hit and miss.
Advertisers continued to look for different ways to win over viewers’ hearts despite this.
“Everything old is new again,” she declared, citing the resurgence of popular Super Bowl commercials and sayings from the past, such as ETrade’s talking infants.

Whitler pointed out that the 1980s also made a reappearance, with the “Flashdance” theme tune playing on T-Mobile and Nerds, and the mullet occupying the center of Kawasaki’s spot.
Collins and Calkins declared that their top pick was Google’s location. The commercial showed a blind guy taking images of the people and locations in his life using “Guided Frame,” Google’s AI-powered accessibility feature for the Pixel camera that combines verbal cues, high-contrast animations, and tactile vibrations.

Collins described the advertisement as having a “perfect balance of emotion and showing off a product benefit,” and she expressed gratitude to Google for highlighting an audience that isn’t often given enough attention. “There were no celebrities involved, and it simply depicted what could have been a very genuine family.” adored it.”
Xu also brought up the Dove commercial, which highlighted how girls giving up athletics is a result of having low body image.
According to her, “It’s a powerful message,” consistent with Dove’s previous body positive advertisements.
Other advertisements adopted a more somber tone. For instance, an advertisement for Robert Kraft’s Foundation to Combat Antisemitism featured Dr. Clarence B. Jones, who wrote the address for Martin Luther King Jr.

This year, “He Gets Us” made a comeback to the Super Bowl. The campaign released two advertisements on Sunday night. It is supported by a number of wealthy Christian benefactors.

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