Good afternoon Super Bowl junkies,
I'm Jeanine Poggi, Ad Age's senior editor, here with the latest edition of our Super Bowl Alert. It's the home stretch and Ad Age is bringing 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.
Super Bowl LIII is shaping up to be the year of the woman. Ad Age analyzed Super Bowl ads over the last several years, and while there's still a long way to go in improving the way women are portrayed not only in Super Bowl commercials but in all advertising, this year's Big Game is far and away the friendliest to its female audience. As of Wednesday morning, there are 12 female celebrities slated to appear in Super Bowl ads compared with 23 of their male counterparts. (This doesn't include the 40 or so football players the National Football League plans to feature in its Super Bowl ad, which are, of course, all men.) This is in comparison with Super Bowl LII, which featured 44 male celebrities in compercials, and just 12 females.
Toyota, Bumble, Procter & Gamble's Olay and Michelob Ultra are among the brands featuring women in lead roles in their Super Bowl ads and leaning into themes of female empowerment. And on Wednesday, CBS announced it is partnering with Girls Inc. for a public service announcement that will air during the Super Bowl. The spot features a voice over of "CBS This Morning" co-host Gayle King and encourage girls to believe they can succeed at the highest levels, especially when they work together.
But the industry shouldn't pat itself on its shoulders just yet. Despite these efforts, of the full commercials released thus far, there are still more than double the amount of men than women in featured or starring roles (27 men compared with 13 women).
And as Brad Jakeman, former president of PepsiCo, points out on Twitter, those brands that have focused on making their Super Bowl ads diverse, also need to do the same thing for their marketing and leadership teams.
I wish all those brands that obviously spent so much time ensuring the diversity in the cast of their Super Bowl commercials did the same exercise with their Marketing & Leadership Teams. Diversity in ads < Diversity in real life.— BradJakeman (@BradJakeman) January 29, 2019
Artificial intelligence is seeping into Super Bowl LIII commercials. The latest is a 90-second ad from Amazon promoting its Alexa device. In the spot, released on Wednesday morning, Amazon recruits celebrities to test Alexa technologies—but not all of them make the cut. Those "failures" include putting Alexa into Forest Whitaker's electric toothbrush; the collar of Harrison Ford's dog; and the hot tub of Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson. Then there was the "incident," where Alexa turned off the power of the entire Earth.
It's interesting creative for Amazon; while the spot is funny, it also reminds people of the fears of artificial intelligence and the ways things can go wrong.
Pringles is also featuring a smart device similar to Alexa in its commercial, while Michelob Ultra includes robots in its ad. And TurboTax released a teaser of its spot on Wednesday introducing "RoboChild."
Amazon will also air a commercial for its Prime streaming service, promoting its upcoming original series, "Hanna."
In other Super Bowl commercials news: M&M's spot shows Christina Applegate driving and arguing with someone in the backseat (turns out to be some rambunctious M&M's); Jason Bateman plays an elevator operator in Hyundai's spot; and Olay unveiled its horror movie spot starring Sarah Michelle Gellar.
Meanwhile, Avocados From Mexico riffs on dog shows, but this time it is the people doing the tricks. Kristin Chenoweth, who is featured in the ad, shared some thoughts about the process of creating a Super Bowl spot from the sidelines of the commercial shoot.
And Hulu confirmed on Thursday it will run a 30-second commercial in the Big Game, but declined to provide specifics. Last year, the streaming service used the Super Bowl to promote its original series "Castle Rock."
You can watch all the spots that have been released so far here.
Up in the air
One advertiser whose Super Bowl plans are still undetermined is Fiat Chrysler, E.J. Schultz reports. While the automaker has plans for a digital ad blitz, its plans for TV spots during the game remain in doubt. If the company sits out the game it would mark the first time that has happened since 2009. That would also mark a big strategy shift for FCA, which is known for big-budgeted, celebrity-filled Super Bowl spots that often drive conversation on game day.
Paramount, which ran a spot last year for its new "Mission Impossible" movie, will not run ads this year.
Squarespace is also skipping the Super Bowl this year, and instead running a new campaign starring Idris Elba.
Speaking of skipping things
Maroon 5 will not participate in the traditional pre-game press conference. The NFL released a statement yesterday evening: "Maroon 5 has been working hard on a Pepsi Super Bowl LIII Halftime Show that will meet and exceed the standards of this event. As it is about music, the artists will let their show do the talking as they prepare to take the stage this Sunday." The halftime show has been controversial, as performers have received backlash due to the NFL's stance on players taking a knee during the National Anthem. Artists like Pink and Rihanna have said they were boycotting the game
Elsewhere, Digiday takes a look at what marketers can buy in digital media with that $5 million they spend on one Super Bowl ad.
Bookmark our Super Bowl ad chart, which is the most current look at all the marketers confirmed to air national spots in Super Bowl LIII.