After a contentious football season in which the President of the United States urged NFL owners to fire any national anthem knee-taking “son of a bitch” on the field, and took credit for the 10% dive in regular-season ratings, advertisers coughing up more than $5M per 30-seconds for a spot in Sunday’s Super Bowl, are understandably steering clear of politics, except maybe to play to POTUS and his base.
WeatherTech, for instance, is returning for a fifth Super Bowl in an ad squarely focused on making its products in America, but in which some ad-industry pundits have reported they see a soupcon of wall-building metaphor:
Last year, TV news outlets spent the morning after Super Bowl Sunday documenting the outrage of Trump supporters over all the Big Game ads that went in for politics.
Coca Cola got hit for its ad featuring kids singing our country’s “other” national anthem, “America the Beautiful” in “different” languages.
And, Budweiser’s “Born the Hard Way” spot, featuring young Adolphus Busch making his way from Germany to St. Louis, to taunts of “go back home” and “you don’t look like you are from here,” airing at a time Trump was trying to block people coming from Muslim-majority countries, triggering an angry – and creatively spelled – #BoycottBudwiser hashtag.
This time Budweiser is giving politics a miss. But it’s also benching its beloved Clydesdales – this time to promote the company’s canned-water disaster relief program, using employees:
The Clydesdales were going to sit out Sunday’ game broadcast, though they would be featured in an online-only spot showing one of the giant horses galloping past the iconic sites:
But, four days before the game, Anheuser-Busch announced the Clydesdales would appear in the game broadcast after all. For 5 seconds. The second-quarter bumper ad will plug “Clydesdales Cam,” in which football fans can watch the horses in real-time on Bud’s Facebook page.
In fairness, five on-air seconds extending the Clydesdales’ Super Bowl TV streak to 18 years, is more screen time than they got in last year’s game when they made an eye blink-long appearance in that controversial immigration ad.
Anheuser Busch’s InBev operation also will touted its Stella Artois water campaign, this one featuring Matt Damon:
In much the same way Anheuser Busch is not directly hawking beer, Toyota will not plug cars in this year’s Super Bowlads, rather mobility. The company explained “we’re on a mission to make movement better for everyone”:
Fewer Super Bowl ads were released on advance this year, suggesting Madison Avenue execs have once again embraced the buzz-generating power of surprise.
Even so, one trend easy to spot: the breaks in game play between the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles will be stuffed with celebrities.
Morgan Freeman and Peter Dinklage will lipsync battle, with assists from Busta Rhymes and Missy Elliott, in back-to-back ads pitting Doritos Blaze vs. Mountin Dew Ice – both PepsiCo brands:
Bill Hader makes his Super Bowl Pitchman debut, marveling at the stackability of Pringles:
Hader’s “nobody asked you” line in the ad is its own trend at this year’s Super Bowl. David Schwimmer also delivers the line, to a smart-mouthed sandwich, in a tease for Skittles’ new spot. Skittles Super Bowl ad won’t technically be broadcast in the game, the company insists. It will be live-streamed to one single California teen named Marcos Menendez – which you can watch happen on the brand’s Facebook page:
In addition to Hader, Chris Pratt is making his Super Bowl pitchman debut, plugging Michelob Ultra because, the company says he defines “fit” and “fun”:
Chris Elliott, meanwhile, will help hawk avocados from Mexico:
Keneau Reeves surfs on a motorcycle for SquareSpace:
Danny DeVito is the embodiment of M&M’s:
Terry Bradshaw is being replaced by Stranger Things star David Harbour as Tide pitchman:
And, making its first Super Bowl appearance in five years, E-Trade had dumped its baby to target older viewers raging at the 1%-ers, extending the financial firm’s ongoing “Don’t Get Mad, Get E-Trade” campaign:
You may have noticed the relative lack of female celebrities.
One happy exception, Girls Trip star Tiffany Haddish, who promotes Groupon in its first Super Bowl outing since 2011 and, by extension, local business:
One of few female Super Bowl ad stars is a robot named Evelyn, who learning how to play chess, and mock Verizon, for Sprint:
In teasers for the ad, Evelyn also was learning female life skills. You know: how to do a Kissy Face and a Model Pout for selfies. Less said about that the better:
Celebrity nostalgia is big this year at the big game. That includes a highly hyped Pepsi ad featuring Cindy Crawford re-creating her iconic 1992 ad for the soda band that also had featuring a red Lamborghini:
This time the Pepsi ad features Crawford’s teen model son;
And, it wouldn’t be Super Bowl without at least one stab at potty humor. Procter & Gamble Co.’s Febreze ad introduces us to Dave, a man whose bleep don’t stink. The company assured reporters it is a build on the bathroom humor of its 2017 spot:
Here’s that 2017 ad to refresh your memory:
Despite all the tip-toeing, one Super Bowl ad is sure to get Trump’s neck hair up. Newly buffed Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world and Trump nemesis, makes his Super Bowl starring debut in an ad for Amazon Echo, “Alexa Loses Her Voice.” Cardi B, Gordon Ramsey, Rebel Wilson, and Sir Anthony Hopkins take supporting roles in the ad, in service of the owner of The Washington Post.
Friday afternoon, the ad was closing in on 9M Youtube views: