I guarantee that at some point during the game last night, one of your friends voiced the age-old question: “Have Superbowl ads gotten worse, or are we just not used to network TV any more?” And while I do think they have gotten worse, another key factor as noted by Sheila Marikar in the Times this weekend is that, in a world of inflencer-driven “native” product placement, a piece of media that’s identifiable as a commercial inevitably feels cheesy. Still, you can’t deny the delight of seeing what agencies think of us all in one Patriots-dominating, four-hour stretch. Below are some themes addressing “what consumers want right now!”
I Brake 4 Superbowl Ads
February 4, 2019
Preoccupied much? Sentient-ish machines showed up during just about every ad break last night. There were the Michelob Ultra sports robots outstripping humans at every physical activity except drinking; the off-brand voice assistant lamenting how she’ll never taste a Pringle; the on-brand Amazon devices going awry before they’re perfected by daddy Bezos (‘don’t worry, we test!’); and finally, the supremely creepy TurboTax robo-child who tragically can’t grow up to be a human remote CPA. All these ads make you grateful to be human, right? And like a robot isn’t going to automate your job, RIIIGHT?
What do Game of Thrones and Bud Light have in common? What about Chevrolet and Skechers? Each of them split a Superbowl ad*. While it is true that those ad spots are expensive, whose idea was it to ellide endorsements? Do all these companies share an overextended agency? Is there a trove of untapped Bud drinkers watching Game of Thrones? Do people still wear Skechers? All unanswered questions.
*Well, sort of– Chevy just appeared in Skechers’ ad with Howie Long
STRONG WORK on the Bubly seltzer commercial starring Aparna Nancharla looking quizzically at Michael Bublé. (Btw Bubly is reported to taste like liquid candy without the sugar, which I think means we have rounded peak seltzer. Also also, Bubly is a Pepsi product.) And back on that Amazon fails ad, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer appear in an Alexa-fied hot tub that goes awry. Why? Cause if they’re down with Amazon failing us, then maybe we can be too?
In the inevitable bid for best ad of the night, two come out on top. First, the Bud Light ad about the medieval barbers— even funnier when you watch it on mute, because those hairdos are comedy in themselves and who gives a shit about Bud Light’s ingredients. And second, the Pepsi ad where a waiter at a diner asks a customer, ‘Is Pepsi ok?’ and Steve Carrell walks us through how Pepsi is, in fact, superior, and then Cardi B. sashays in with an “Okurrrrr” and Lil’ Jon blasts an “OHKAYYYY”. Now THAT is star power.
PS Jared, thx 4 owl, couldn’t resist