It's less than a month until Super Bowl LII will air on NBC. While we can't tell you who will face off at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota, we're finding out more and more about the commercials that are running in the ballpark of $5 million a pop. In the weeks leading up to the game, Ad Age will bring you breaking news, analysis and first looks at the high-stakes big-game commercials—all in our Super Bowl Alerts newsletter. Sign up right here to get them in your email.
Intuit goes corporate
Intuit, whose QuickBooks' brand previously hosted a small business contest that twice awarded up-and-coming companies a Super Bowl commercial, will advertise its corporate brand for the first time during the big game.
TurboTax will also return for its fifth consecutive Super Bowl commercial.
Intuit plans to introduce two characters during its Super Bowl spot that will play prominently in its brand campaign. The company, a marketer of distinctly unfun financial software, describes the ad as playful, making it the latest brand leaning in on humor (more on that later).
Intuit's ad buy comes four years after its QuickBooks brand first gave away an entire spot—worth $4.2 million at the time—in a contest for small businesses. The winner was GoldieBlox, then a fledgling girls' toy company known for its legal dispute with the Beastie Boys for using the 1987 song "Girls" in an online ad that went viral. The company later apologized, but in a sort of under-the-breath kind of way. See its Super Bowl spot (driven by a fully licensed Quiet Riot song) plus more details here, courtesy of our voluminous, searchable and browseable Super Bowl Ad Archive.
TurboTax has been in the Super Bowl a few times, including last year, but our favorite is this 2014 spot, "Love Hurts," about the pain of watching the game for fans of teams that got knocked out.
The ad bowl takes shape
Many marketers' plans are still materializing, but one early trend is the quest for laughs. That's not atypical for the Super Bowl, but people definitely want a break after a year filled with natural disasters, the biggest mass shooting in U.S. history, relentless political division and the seemingly daily revelation of horrible sexual harassment. If landing a joke isn't such a challenge for Avocados From Mexico, whose funny ad last year starred a secret society that couldn't shut up, it's a test for Groupon, which made an impression last time around (a bad one) by seeming to make fun of charities and good causes. It's also safe to predict that Doritos, whose most recent Super Bowl work included an unborn baby flying out of its mother for a chip, will at least try to be funny.
On the other side of the ledger, some brands will surely attempt to make statements on poltical and social issues. One area that's ripe for exploration after the year we just had: women's rights. Audi touched on the topic last year with its powerful spot "Daughter" (even if a man got all the lines).
Exepect to see at least a couple brands try to play off the #metoo movement with other messages of equality. And safe to say—let's hope—that there will be few, if any, half-dressed women appearing as props to sell cars, beer or snacks this year. You'd have to be especially tone deaf to play into those tropes.
Super Bowl Ad Chart: Here's the most current look at all the marketers confirmed to air commercials in Super Bowl LII.
Team ratings: Before Wild Card Weekend, Ad Age's Anthony Crupi broke down what the playoff teams mean for playoff TV audiences. Cowboys, you will be missed.