UPDATED with more ads Super Bowl LVI is finally upon us, and it feels a lot different than last year’s big game.
For starters, SoFi Stadium in LA will be full. A year ago, the game vividly reflected the grueling early phase of Covid, as Tampa Bay’s Raymond James Stadium hosted 24,835 fans, one-third of whom were newly vaccinated health care workers.
This season, roaring crowds and close games have boosted NFL ratings, with the conference championship games at the end of January posting multi-year highs. NBCUniversal, which will carry the Super Bowl on NBC, Peacock and Telemundo, is hoping that breadth will goose ratings. Even for an event that is the longtime king of tune-in, any increase (after last year’s tumble to 96.4 million viewers) would be a tonic.
Better ratings, though, would merely be icing on an already lucrative cake. All of the ad inventory sold out more than a week before kickoff, with many 30-second spots selling for a record $7 million. A recent report from research firm Kantar found that last year’s game generated $434.5 million of in-game ad revenue for ViacomCBS and indicated this year’s haul should be higher.
As for the Ad Bowl’s creative side, it will bring out the customary flock of Hollywood stars and pop-culture figures shilling for various brands, many packing multiple names into the frame. An Austin Powers cast reunion imagines how General Motors can help Dr. Evil do good … so that he can do more evil. Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost nest with Amazon Alexa; Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd team for Lay’s potato chips; Salma Hayek and Arnold Schwarzenegger hype BMW electric vehicles. Schitt’s Creek co-stars Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara appear in an action-hero makeover for Nissan. Another automaker, Chevrolet, gave The Sopranos a pseudo-sequel with Jami-Lynn Sigler and Robert Iler. FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange, lured Larry David into the fold. Some stars just contributed voiceovers — Gal Gadot for Cue, a smart medical device, and Ryan Reynolds for Mint Mobile, in which he owns a majority stake. (The Mint ad does carry an asterix, as it will air in a cheaper, lower-profile pre-game slot.)
Behind the camera, along with F. Gary Gray at the helm of the halftime show, Oscar-winning filmmaker Chloé Zhao directs Budweiser’s return to the game after a time-out last year. (Scroll down to watch.)
Zhao’s “A Clydesdale’s Journey,” shot in wide-open Western spaces and set to an earnest soundtrack, may not be the norm this year in terms of its tenor, however. In a taped video presentation for press last month, ad sales president Dan Lovinger said he expects Super Bowl ads to have “a more comedic tone” compared with last year. “And I think the country’s ready for it.”
The recovery of the economy from the worst of Covid has spurred a return of categories like movie studios and travel, and the emergence of newer ones like sports betting and cryptocurrency, he added.
Advertisers long ago stopped waiting for the game for their big reveals. A number of marquee plugs go online days or even weeks in advance (usually with extended runtimes), and teasers are now even more of a thing. We will keep updating this post through Sunday as new material surfaces. Below, check out a few of the spots and teasers that are already online:
Larry David / FTX
The cryptocurrency exchange got Larry David to imagine the many times throughout world history he would have underestimated progress:
Jami-Lynn Sigler, Robert Iler / Chevrolet
Among the many stars pitching electric vehicles on Super Sunday were Sopranos children Jami-Lynn Sigler and Robert Iler, in this spot reprising the show’s iconic opening:
Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen / Lay’s
The two stars reflect on a lifetime of experiences, which for some reason are connected to potato chips:
Anna Kendrick / Rocket Mortgage
Barbie’s Dream House becomes a real estate case study:
Chloé Zhao (director) / Budweiser
Zhao returns to the Western landscapes she mined so effectively for Nomadland and The Rider with this dialogue-free spot:
Scarlett Johansson, Colin Jost / Amazon Alexa
The actress and her Saturday Night Live cast member husband have their minds read by Amazon Alexa, providing some of the light comedy NBC was talking about:
Lindsay Lohan, Dennis Rodman, Danny Trejo, William Shatner / Planet Fitness
Lohan, who is mounting a comeback to acting, makes fun of her tabloid past with help from three notables (blink and you’ll miss them):
Zendaya / Squarespace
As her fortunes continue to rise with Euphoria‘s second season, the multihyphenate gets game-day exposure as the fictional Sally by the Seashore:
Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Brie Larson, Danai Gurira, Dave Bautista / Nissan
Directed by Craig Gillespie (Cruella), this ad gives Levy a makeover as an action hero:
Mike Myers, Seth Green, Rob Lowe, Mindy Sterling / General Motors
This Austin Powers reunion forces Dr. Evil to consider saving the world before taking over the world:
Dolly Parton, Miley Cyrus, Zach Braff, Donald Faison / T-Mobile
The telecom company has three 30-second ads, all on musical themes, lined up for game time:
Idris Elba / Booking.com
The Luther star travels through many sets in 30 seconds for this digital travel plug:
Kevin Hart / Sam’s Club
The comedian and entrepreneur continues his string of Sam’s Club promos with a myopic claim to velvet-rope status:
Ryan Reynolds / Mint Mobile
After skipping last year’s Super Bowl in favor of a print ad, Mint “upcycled” this spot from a previous one. Reynolds, who has a majority stake in the wireless company, laid down a new voiceover. The project came in millions of dollars less than the going rate for the game, between the cheaper creative and the pre-game positioning, between 4 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. ET:
Hannah Waddingham / Rakuten
The Ted Lasso star doesn’t hedge any bets in this poker showdown with a budget-conscious devotée of Rakuten, an online marketplace:
Ken Jeong, Joel McHale / Planters
How to eat mixed nuts? Two former Community co-stars debate a question that’s never been pondered at the cost of millions on Super Bowl Sunday:
Ty Burrell / Greenlight
The Modern Family alum represents a family-oriented financial technology brand:
John Legend / Headspace
The mindfulness app is promoting Legend’s new “sleepcast,” which is an invitation for listeners to sleep with him. “Not sleep-sleep with me, I’m a happily married man,” he notes:
Pete Davidson / Hellmann’s
The Saturday Night Live cast member plays a “hittable” supporting role at the end a 30-second ad dominated by former NFL linebacker Jerod Mayo:
Gal Gadot (voice) / Cue
The Wonder Woman and Red Notice star lends her voice to the campaign for a line of smart health devices:
Deion Sanders and son Shedeur Sanders / Oikos
The Greek yogurt maker will have its third straight Super Bowl ad lineup, with this “Prime Time” father-son tandem:
Computer-animated animals / Doritos
OK, so it’s not technically star-driven. But this animated riff set to Salt-N-Pepa’s 1986 evergreen “Push It” reprises the anthropomorphism that has scored big many times over the years (see: Budweiser frogs and Mountain Dew’s “Puppy Monkey Baby”):
Guy Fieri / Bud Light
The celebrity chef plays the mayor of the mythical Land of Flavor, giving his blessing to a bucket of flavored hard sodas:
Howl’n Harry / Meta
What’s that, you’ve not heard of Howl’n Harry, the animatronic dog? That’s because he’s a fictional character in this Toy Story-adjacent tale of redemption via the metaverse:
Arnold Schwarzenegger / BMW
The Zeus half of the Schwarzenegger-Salma Hayek pairing slated to team up during the game orders coffee:
Jennifer Coolidge, Gwyneth Paltrow, Trevor Noah / UberEats
The trio will appear in the same spot on game day, but UberEats broke out three separate teasers, revolving around the idea of non-food delivery, or Uber “Don’t” Eats. (Paltrow even riffs on her wellness company Goop’s $75 vagina-scented candle.) It’s as big of a starry swing as last year’s Wayne’s World reunion:
Below are a few spots promoting initiatives tied to NBCUniversal or the NFL.
Today and the Ad Council
Talent from the NBC morning show, including Savannah Guthrie, Hoda Kotb, Al Roker, Craig Melvin and Carson Daly, take part in this PSA for a campaigned called “She Can STEM.” It aims to encourage girls, non-binary youth, and trans youth to pursue their interests in STEM.
Prime Video / Thursday Night Football
One of the NFL’s boldest media moves will take effect in September, when Amazon gains exclusive rights to Thursday Night Football after simulcasting with broadcast networks in recent years. The weekly games had aired on CBS, NBC and, most recently, Fox after initially launching on NFL Network. It will be the first time a full-season primetime block will be a streaming exclusive after a few single-game experiments during the streaming era.
Andrés Cantor / Telemundo
The world-famous “gooooooaaaaal” announcer presides over an infectious plug for the Spanish-language network’s coverage of this year’s World Cup in Qatar:
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