A roundup of key ads from this year's Super Bowl.
Last year’s Super Bowl ad spots focused heavily on politics and the event was widely deemed “the most political Super Bowl ever.” This year, most companies decided to give politically fatigued viewers a break and instead opted for humor to win the audience’s attention. “Now, more than ever, I think people want—no, make that need—to laugh a little,” said Dan Kelleher, chief creative officer for Deutsch. “Heck, even the NFL itself needs a break from all of the politics.”
The Super Bowl LII on Sunday drew in approximately 103.4 million viewers, making it one of the biggest television platforms for advertisers to showcase their brands. Below we round up some key themes beyond the laughs from the Super Bowl ads.
The Amazon effect
Amazon reminded us of the company’s buying power by rounding up a host of celebrities for its comical 90-second commercial “Alexa Loses Her Voice.” The ad, which stars actor Anthony Hopkins, actress Rebel Wilson, chef Gordon Ramsay and singer Cardi B as Alexa voice replacements, was the most viewed on YouTube on Super Bowl Sunday.
Groupon and WeatherTech both hinged on localism and taking pride in supporting local businesses. Groupon’s “Who Wouldn’t” features actress Tiffany Haddish asking “what kind of person wouldn’t want to support local business?” as she walks along a high street. WeatherTech shows the construction of a factory and ends with the message, “At WeatherTech, we built our new factory right here in America. Isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?”
While politics was not the main theme for commercials at the Super Bowl this year, some companies still wanted to show their commitment. Budweiser used its 60-second spot to show the brand’s water donation program for regions in the United States affected by natural disasters, including Puerto Rico and California. Budweiser has provided over 79 million cans of water over the past 30 years, and the ad follows one employee’s help with the relief effort. The message of altruism and providing support for those in need was also highlighted by Stella Artois, in a slot narrated by actor Matt Damon, again focusing on communities in need of water.
Brands wanted to show diversity and a sense of community so, whether through humor or a more serious tone, the issue of equality was prominent. T-Mobile’s #LittleOnes ad welcomes a diverse group of babies into the world with actress Kerry Washington narrating. “It’s a lot to take in, but you come with open minds and the instinct that we are equal,” says Washington. “Some people may see your differences and be threatened by them. But you are unstoppable.” The company addresses issues such as fair pay and equal opportunities through the softened lens of cute and innocent babies.
Coca-Cola’s “The Wonder of Us” uses gender-neutral pronouns to show the company’s inclusivity, starting with “There’s a Coke out there for he, and she, and her, and me, and them.” Toyota unites religion, bringing together a priest, a rabbi, an imam and a Buddhist monk at a football game for the “One Team” ad.
Blacture, a website devoted to black culture, delivered a powerfully simple message and was considered one of the boldest ads of the night by the Washington Post. The ad stars former Fugees musician Pras, who approaches a microphone in a concert hall blindfolded, with tape across his mouth. The orchestra plays, he removes the tape and blindfold, gives the empty hall a stern look and walks off the stage. The ad ends with the on-screen message “Be celebrated. Not tolerated”—a rebuke to recent award ceremonies that have not been inclusive enough.
Some ads worthy of mentions are the ones that provide the laughs include Tide’s “It’s a Tide Ad” featuring actor David Harbour gatecrashing different commercials claiming it’s a Tide ad.
Also Doritos and Mountain Dew’s rap-off with actors Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman throwing fire and ice promoting Doritoes Blaze and Mountain Dew Ice.