Ad Age is counting down to Super Bowl LVIII, which will air tomorrow on CBS. We’re bringing you breaking news, analysis and first looks at the high-stakes Big Game commercials—all in our Super Bowl newsletter. Sign up right here to get them via email.
Super Bowl Alert: Pfizer and Poppi jump in and Beyoncé buzz builds
The Big Game is one day away and there aren’t many ad surprises left. One thing that seems increasingly certain is that Beyoncé will star in Verizon’s ad. The brand still hasn’t officially confirmed anything, but on Friday it dropped another video teasing her appearance—actor Tony Hale, who made a reference to her “Lemonade” album in the first teaser, this time converses with a sparking horse similar to the one on Beyoncé’s “Renaissance” album cover. The Super Bowl speculation comes at the same time Beyoncé is generating buzz for her forthcoming hair care brand, Cécred.
To keep track of all the advertisers running national spots in the game, and their teasers, bookmark Ad Age’s regularly updated Super Bowl ad chart.
History lessons and soda wars
As of today, 38 ads have been made public. The latest comes from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, whose corporate branding spot uses animated lip-syncing of historical figures to take viewers through centuries of medical history and breakthroughs, ending with a modern scene of a young girl receiving cancer treatment in the hospital. “Here’s to science,” text in the spot reads. “Here’s to the next fight.”
Another brand taking a trip back in time is Volkswagen, which on Friday released a two-minute extended cut of its 60-second spot that depicts the brand’s 75-year American journey, from automotive oddity to cultural icon, with an assist from Neil Diamond.
For more pigskin marketing news, check out our football blog.
Also dropping Friday was a second ad from T-Mobile, featuring a star-studded cast, including Bradley Cooper (and his mother Gloria), Laura Dern, Jennifer Hudson and Common, who are depicted “auditioning” for the Magenta Status loyalty program. Startup soda brand Poppi released its ad on Thursday. On Friday, Ad Age explained how that last-minute buy came together and what it means for the broader soda category.
Also read: 8 Super Bowl ad trends to watch
The closer the game gets, the more brands not advertising in the game will try to ride its coattails in hopes of getting some free pub. While a lot of attempts will barely get noticed, some will. One brand is relying on other brands to help generate some buzz—Hyundai is ceding control of its Instagram account to two dozen brands and nonprofits—including Adobe, Drumstick, Mint Mobile, Booking.com, Planet Fitness and Red Lobster—in what the automaker is calling the “Big Hyundai Handoff.”
And while only the national in-game ads are considered Super Bowl ads by purists, some local ads and pre-game ones will break through, if past years are any indication. One brand that has a chance of doing that is Carl’s Jr., which will run a spot in West Coast markets announcing Free Burger Day. It is the culmination of a hilarious effort covered by Ad Age’s Creativity that included a series of “leaked” training videos appearing to teach Carl’s employees how to deal with unruly customers in a frenzy over Free Burger Day.
Also, Galderma’s Cetaphil skin care brand is getting attention for a campaign depicting a dad and daughter bonding over football—he is portrayed as a Chiefs fan and she is into Taylor Swift. The ad, which is from Lippe Taylor and directed by /prompt., will run regionally in Texas, the brand said.
Also read: Hacking the Super Bowl without buying a spot
Last year’s Super Bowl winner was The Farmer’s Dog, at least according to USA Today’s widely cited Ad Meter, which gave the pet food brand’s ad featuring a chocolate Labrador its top score. But The Farmer’s Dog won’t defend its title—Ad Age reported yesterday that the brand is sitting out the game.
Speaking of dogs, Ad Age compiled a list of Super Bowl unsung heroes—behind-the-scenes workers who make it all possible—and it included one pooch, Bob, a dog owned by Dave Laden, director of Oreo’s Super Bowl commercial. “There should always be a dog on set. Always. Bob is the best at what he does,” Laden said.
Stay tuned: Ad Age will release its annual Super Bowl ad review immediately after the game at adage.com
This week in Super Bowl history
Super Bowls have crept later in the calendar year ever since the NFL added a 17th regular season game starting with the 2021-22 season. Sunday’s game on Feb. 11 marks the third-latest Bowl ever played. The latest came in 2022, when the Rams beat the Bengals on Feb. 13 at SoFi Stadium. That year during the commercial breaks, a plethora of automakers plugged their electric vehicle intentions. The EV hype has since cooled down a bit (though BMW, Kia and VW are including EVs in their ads this year.) It was also the year of the Crypto Bowl, with Crypto.com, Coinbase and FTX all running spots. The market would soon crash, of course, robbing Super Bowl ad sellers of what at one time appeared to be a fertile market. This year, ad sellers are relying on more stable categories, such as candy.