Super Bowl ads shine with nostalgia and stars

NEW YORK (AP) – Super Bowl advertising is more than just a break between games during the biggest sporting event of the year: it offers a glimpse into the country’s zeitgeist and shows how major industries are faring.

This year, crypto ads and automakers are advertising less as these industries face troubles. Big food brands like M&Ms, tech companies like Google, streaming services like Peacock, and more alcohol brands have stepped in to take their place.

When Super Bowl LVII kicks off Sunday night when the Kansas City Chiefs take on the Philadelphia Eagles in Glendale, Ariz., big marketers will also be battling it out during the Fox broadcast.

Your price? A chance to catch the attention of more than 100 million viewers expected to watch the big game. That price of entry is steep: some advertisers pay upwards of $7 million for a 30-second spot, and that doesn’t include the cost of creating the ad itself.

This year, viewers can expect stars galore, light humor and catchy songs. Advertisers are mostly turning their backs on somber messages or outrageous humor, which may have garnered attention in previous decades but not now as the country is still emerging from the pandemic, facing economic uncertainty and the war in Ukraine continues.

“This year is a ‘don’t worry, be happy’ year,” said Kelly O’Keefe, CEO of Brand Federation. “You name it, we had it all and it put us in an almost depressive situation. This year people are over it and advertisers are responding really well – there’s traditional brands, traditional humor and it’s going to feel like a big ol’ group hug.”

Who is starring?

Stars are commonplace in Super Bowl ads, but in recent years, ads have become more and more celebrity-filled. This year is no exception.

Popular celebrities offer goodwill to a brand and help it stand out from the 50+ advertisers during the big game. But with so many stars in ads, it can be harder to stand out in a crowded field.

“When you use fame intelligently, it’s huge,” said Rich Weinstein, a professor at the VCU Brandcenter. “But with all these celebrities, will people remember who each celebrity is linked to?”

Big names are making waves this year: Melissa McCarthy sings a jingle for, Miles Teller dances to hold music for Bud Light, and Adam Driver does multiples of himself for Squarespace. Avocados From Mexico hired Anna Faris for one of the only slightly risqué ads this year, featuring a gift where everyone is naked – including the Statue of Liberty. And tennis star Serena Williams has appeared in two commercials: one for Michelob Ultra and one for Remy Martin. It’s the second year in a row that she’s been in more than one ad: Last year, she starred in an ad for smart home gym maker Tonal, in addition to a Michelob Ultra ad. Even hip-hop mogul P. Diddy appears in an ad trying to make a hit for Uber One.

An unusual star this year: Jesus. A group of Christian donors pays a maximum amount for two ads promoting the religious message “He Gets Us”.


Another tactic advertisers use to attract viewers is to replicate popular movies and TV shows. This year, online shopping site Rakuten is making waves by hiring Alicia Silverstone and Elisa Donovan to recreate a ’90s rom-com, ‘Clueless’. Popcorners, a Frito-Lay snack brand, brought back “Breaking Bad,” which first aired in 2008 and starred Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul.

Other advertisers are trying to capitalize on favorite content from years past: T-Mobile’s ad features John Travolta co-creating a T-Mobile home internet version of “Summer Nights” from “Grease” sings. Finally, Michelob Ultra conjured up “Caddyshack” by running his ad at the Bushwood Country Club, which appears in the film.

The nostalgia fits the mood, Weinstein said.

“Consumers want to have a good laugh and feel good,” Weinstein said. “It’s less about living in the problems the world is facing today and more about getting nostalgic and having fun.”


Some first-time advertisers have chosen to rely on stunts and gimmicks to highlight their first foray into the big game. Most notable is Fan Duel, which hired four-time All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski to try and score a field goal live during a third-quarter ad. If he makes it, anyone who places a Super Bowl bet of $5 or more on FanDuel will win a share of $10 million in free bets.

A blockchain-based gaming company, Limit Break, plans to run a QR code during the game’s first commercial break and give away non-fungible tokens to people who scan it. And for his first national Super Bowl ad, Molson Coors asked people to bet on aspects of his commercial, such as whether it would feature Miller Lite or Coors Light.

Kim Whitler, a professor at the Darden School of Business, said stunts didn’t always result in positive sales results or brand awareness for brands.

“People want to do stunts because stunts attract attention,” she said. “But at the end of the day, the ad has to communicate something unique or better about the brand.”


While many advertisers have published pre-game ads, there are always some surprises. Dunkin’ Donuts is running an ad that will reportedly feature Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez, although the brand has not confirmed this. Stellantis, which owns the Jeep and Ram car brands, will run two unpublished ads. And M&Ms has kept its ads under wraps after saying its candy spokespeople are on hiatus – though they’re likely to show up during the game. Super Bowl ads shine with nostalgia and stars

Dais Johnston

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