Super Bowl Ads: Politics, Fishing & Oh So Many Celebrities

Gal Gadot Jason Statham Super Bowl ad

After the heartbreak of watching Hollywood celebrities, tirelessly pitch their POTUS candidate of choice in vain for months, it will be nice to see them back in their comfort zone on Sunday, pitching products to the American public during TV’s biggest event. Although NFL games overall suffered an 8% slump in ratings this season, for which President Donald Trump has taken credit, Sunday’s Super Bowl is expected to produce crowds on par with last year’s 112M viewers – roughly the same size crowd as watched Trump’s inauguration, his SCOTUS pick primetime special and all future major Trump clambakes, according to White House estimates.

John Malkovich is charting new Super Bowl commercial territory, in a spot that simultaneously touts,, the actor-director’s latest fashion line, and gins up sympathy for some fishing blogger who might or might not be real and/or also named John Malkovich:

Adam Driver, meanwhile, will star in Super Bowl’s first live commercial, apparently co-starring a horse. According to ad industry trade reports, the Snickers spot continues the candy campaign in which attractive women in iconic screen scenes, who have turned into unattractive men for want of sugar, are transformed back through the magic of Snickers – think Willem Dafoe as Marilyn Monroe cooling off over that subway vent in The Seven Year Itch. Snickers also promises 36 full hours of livestream from the set of the ad, leading up to the game:

And Turbo Tax is trying out a Super Bowl ad trilogy this year. Part 1 launched days before the game. Part 2 will be launched during Super Bowl LI and Part 3 after the game wraps. Part 1 stars Humpty Dumpty:

Dumpty has set the bar high for the rest of Sunday’s Super Bowl celebrity product pitchers.

Kia is counting on Melissa McCarthy:

Honda has high hopes for Steve Carell:

Mercedes is banking on Peter Fonda, directed by the Coen brothers:

T-Mobile put its money on Justin Bieber, after last year’s ad, “Restricted Bling” starring Drake, paid off:

And Justin Timberlake, having last year become an investor in beverage startup Bai Brands, hired himself to plug the line at the big game: landed action stars Gal Gadot and Jason Statham:

Intel is counting on an insatiable appetite for Tom Brady. In addition to his New England Patriots playing the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl, Intel’s spot features Brady yawning, Brady stretching, Brady brushing his teeth and Brady eating a pancake he dropped on the floor before his dog can snatch it:

Celebrities have become so ubiquitous that they’re now making news when they narrate a Super Bowl spot. This year that includes Minnie Driver’s unveiling as the “new voice of Lexus” — though her work, and the car, might be overshadowed a bit by the dance steps of Charles “Lil Buck” Riley:  

Meanwhile, Bryan Cranston narrates Ford’s “Go Further” commercial:

Ads eschewing celebrities seem to be in the minority this Super Bowl. Some of those doing without stars instead are counting on political statements to catch viewers’ attention.

Construction-supply company 84 Lumber, making its Super Bowl debut, went with the can’t-miss, too-hot-for-the-network buzz generator. The company reportedly created a spot that featured a wall and some laborers looking for work. Fox deemed that too political and sent it back to the drawing board. Nicely played, 84 Lumber!

Budweiser marketing execs have insisted in interviews that its “Born the Hard Way” ad is not intended to make any kind of political statement about this country’s raging immigration debate. This would be easier to swallow had the ad’s story of Adolphus Busch’s immigration been a little less creative a molding of the rough clay of truth:

And Audi’s so-called feminist-dad ad, called “Daughter,” purports to illustrate a commitment to equal pay for equal work on the part of the car manufacturer which — Forbes reports, last fall celebrated the grand opening of its first plant in North America. In Mexico.

Speaking of Mexico – avocados! One of this year’s funniest Super Bowl ads features a flash of Jon Lovitz, who was a contestant on The Celebrity Apprentice during the years when Trump – who now, as POTUS, threatens to slap a 20% tariff on the critical guacamole ingredient –  was the reality series’ Grim Reaper:

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