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Super Bowl Ads: Humor and Celebrities

Thank you, thank you, thank you, as Joe Biden often says. It looks like the advertisers during the Super Bowl game will run commercials that concentrate on fun and warm feelings, not woke virtue-signaling.

I don’t know about you, but the commercials are often the best part of the Super Bowl for me. I usually don’t care about the teams in the game but I have the game on to see what happens. The commercials are a bonus. 

In recent years, particularly during the Trump years, companies spent millions of dollars lecturing viewers on social issues. I don’t need to know how any company feels about anything. The go woke, go broke saying is true. People want to purchase a product, not listen to lectures about race relations, environmentalism, or sexual politics. 

People watch sports to tune out the world. It’s a distraction from the tensions in everyday life. Advertisers are catching on.

“Serious is out,” said Kimberly Whitler, marketing professor at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. “Marketers have figured out entertainment, enjoyment and escapism is the name of the ad game.”

Yes. 

There is a Jimmy Carter-style malaise in our country. Times are tough and our president is suffering from dementia. We don’t know who is running the country and the world is on fire. Are you ready for some football?

So marketers will use the game on Sunday, which will air on CBS and stream on Paramount+, to draw attention to new products, brand extensions and their marketing message as they again vie for the eyes of more than 100 million expected viewers.

Almost as an escape from the divisive U.S. presidential election and conflicts deepening around the world, most Super Bowl advertisers appear to be doubling down on flights of fantasy or light humor, often with a dose of nostalgia and a lot of mini-reunions of TV characters.

It isn’t all light-hearted fun, though. Some commercials address serious problems

Robert Kraft’s Foundation to Combat Antisemitism has said it will run an ad featuring Martin Luther King Jr.’s speechwriter Dr. Clarence B. Jones. Dove’s ad focuses on the fact that low body-confidence leads to girls quitting sports. And Google’s heartstring-pulling ad follows a blind man as he uses “Guided Frame” — Google’s A.I.-powered accessibility feature for the Pixel camera that uses a combination of audio cues, high-contrast animations and tactile vibrations — to take pictures of the people and places in his life.

The use of celebrities is big this year. A 30-second spot at this year’s game costs about $7 million. The game attracted 115.1M viewers last year. There’s a lot at stake for a commercial. So, there will be lots of familiar faces and humor. Keith Cartwright, the founder of the marketing agency Cartwright, said “Star power is pretty important. It is the one time when big, big, big-name celebrities will pick up the phone. They love a good Super Bowl ad.” 

Some commercials are released before the big game. It’s not hard to find them online. The Associated Press has a list of commercials that are already creating a buzz. Here are some of my favorites. Enjoy!

How about a Flash Dance flashback?

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