Ad Age is counting down to Super Bowl LVIII. In the days leading up to the game, which will air on CBS on Feb. 11, Ad Age is 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: Verizon’s Beyoncé tease, Kia’s tear jerker, CrowdStrike’s bot attack and Doritos’ giant chip
With the game three days away, 34 in-game ads have now been released, including from three of the four automakers in the Bowl. Kia is taking an emotional approach with a spot debuting today featuring a 10-year-old ice skater performing for her ailing grandfather—with some help from the electric EV9 crossover. Toyota, which made a last-minute buy, has gone lighthearted, plugging its Tacoma by showing people frantically grabbing a side handle as the pickup rumbles over off-road terrain. And BMW made its Christopher Walken-themed ad public earlier this week, leaving Volkswagen as the lone auto holdout.
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.
AI, aliens and courtroom antics
Other brands with newly released ads include cybersecurity software marketer CrowdStrike, whose spot shows a futuristic Old West town facing a bot attack; Microsoft, which is plugging its Copilot AI platform by showing it helping people achieve dream goals, such as opening a business; Squarespace, whose ad stars and is directed by Martin Scorsese and uses an alien invasion to plug its website design tools; and e.l.f, which has Judge Judy pitching the brand as Judge Beauty.
For more on teasers and other pigskin marketing news, check out our Super Bowl chart.
Speaking of e.l.f, it is one of four beauty brands in the Super Bowl, a landmark stat for a category that had traditionally been absent from the game. Ad Age today examined the trend, which is fueled by spiking interest in the NFL by female fans (thanks, Taylor Swift), but also more broad interest in women’s sports. “We saw upticks in female viewership before the Swift effect,” said Video Advertising Bureau CEO Sean Cunningham. “But it definitely accelerated the movement.”
Swift might not be the only pop diva driving buzz on Sunday. Speculation is growing that Beyoncé will show up in Verizon’s in-game ad. While the brand has been mum, it has sent out some hints: a teaser shows actor Tony Hale squeezing lemons for an unnamed woman (Beyoncé released a visual album in 2016 called “Lemonade”). The teaser also includes a snippet of her song “My House.” Verizon sponsored the singer’s Renaissance World Tour, so there is an existing relationship.
While its ad is a secret, Verizon’s Sphere marketing is now public—it turned the Vegas venue’s giant round screen into a football helmet. Check that out here, as well as what other brands, including Adidas, FedEx and Anhueser-Busch InBev, are doing on Sphere.
PepsiCo’s Doritos, meanwhile, found another large Vegas venue on which to pitch its chips—the Luxor pyramid, which it transformed into a Dorito. PepsiCo marketer Todd Kaplan posted about that, and Pepsi’s Sphere ad, on LinkedIn, referring to Vegas as a “playground for brands.”
But the marketer that might be having the most fun in Sin City is baby and children’s apparel brand Carter’s, which has put up a billboard at the corner of Tropicana and Las Vegas Boulevard with photos of two babies and the text, “Remember, what happens here doesn’t always stay here.”
With only about one-half of all ads released, it’s way too early to start declaring ad game winners. But System1, a research firm that measures advertising effectiveness, is out with its first set of data on what is performing best based on emotional responses from consumers. In first place is Michelob Ultra, with its Lionel Messi spot, followed by Hellmann’s, T-Mobile and Lindt. If your brand is not on that list, don’t worry. We will soon be pummeled with enough rankings that you will surely be able to find one that scored your ad well.
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 Bowl XLIV was played 14 years ago this week, and the Saints beat the Colts at Landshark Stadium in Miami. In the ad world, it will forever be known as the Betty White Bowl—the comedic actress starred for Snickers in a “You’re not you when you’re hungry” ad that is now seen as a classic. It was also a census year, prompting the Census Bureau to run an ad directed by Christopher Guest that imagined a production meeting for the entire U.S. census.