Celebrities, humor and a heavy dose of nostalgia will dominate Sunday’s Super Bowl ads


Big brands that in some cases have stayed on the sidelines for years in the TV advertising frenzy surrounding America’s biggest sporting event, the Super Bowl, are back on Sunday and spending big amid record ad prices. It’s been a bumpy couple of years marked by pandemic-era restraint and political polarization, but championship football offers an increasingly unrivaled audience too big to pass up.

Olivier Douliéry | AFP | fake images

Companies like general motors, PepsiCo and father of Facebook Metaplatforms they’re betting millions of dollars that nostalgic Super Bowl ads, many featuring celebrities or music from the ’80s and ’90s, will connect with viewers during Sunday’s big game.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Salma Hayek and Mike Myers will present new electric vehicles for BMW Y gm Lindsay Lohan, Dennis Rodman and William Shatner want you to exercise in fitness planet. And others, like Kevin Hart and Andy Richter, will promote sam’s club and avocados from Mexico.

With the average 30-second Super Bowl ad costing about $6.5 million, advertising executives and experts say such ads try to reach key age demographics (millennials, Gen Xers, and even Baby Boomers) while providing a small oasis of COVID-19 pandemic divisive concerns and politics.

“Nostalgia is a really good way to tap into positive memories that a large portion of the audience will have,” said Mitchell Olsen, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business. “It’s an opportunity to link their brands with some of those positive associations.”

the ads are riding a wave of hollywood studio reboots and streaming services ranging from “The Karate Kid” and “Top Gun” to “Saved by the Bell” and “The Mighty Ducks,” all entertainment titles from the ’80s and ’90s.

Dust off your cassette tapes

There’s also the music, which may make some viewers think about dusting off their cassette tapes.

Songs by artists like Salt-N-Pepa (“Push It”), Bonnie Tyler (“Total Eclipse of the Heart”) and Simple Minds (“Don’t You [Forget About Me]”), among others, are sure to have viewers gasping for the ’80s humming. Even this year’s halftime show, starring rap icons Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige and Eminem, is following this vibrates.

“The ’80s and ’90s are having a massive revival now,” said GM chief marketing officer Deborah Wahl. “There is a great familiarity.”

GM, for the second year in a row, rebooted a 1990s movie for a Super Bowl ad. Last year the automaker resurrected “Edward Scissorhands,” a 1990 movie, for a Cadillac ad and this time Mike Myers is reclaiming his role as Dr. Evil in an “Austin Powers”-themed commercial for the spy comedy trilogy, which debuted in 1997.

Paying millions for nostalgia for times gone by is a gamble, experts say, that may not resonate with younger viewers. That’s why, at the same time, advertisers like GM are trying to generate buzz on TikTok, Instagram and Twitteramong other social media names, ahead of the commercial debut on Sunday.

“There’s no question there’s a risk that people don’t know what you’re talking about, but at the same time, the younger generation has shown an openness to seeing things that older people saw,” said Jed Meyer, Senior Vice President of Kantar, a brand consulting and data analytics company.

Kantar reported that last year’s Super Bowl generated $434.5 million in in-game ad revenue, more than the World Series and NBA Finals and second only to the Olympics, which this year are held for 16 days.

At $6.5 million for a 30-second ad, $1 million more than in 2021, revenue is projected to exceed last year’s total, with advertisers expected to get more for their money. Super Bowl 56 is anticipated between Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams to reach a record audience after years of declining audience.

reliving glory days

Meta and Frito-Lay don’t feature big stars from the ’80s or ’90s in their ads, but the premise of both ads is to relive the glory days, albeit in different ways.

Meta’s ad follows the journey of a singing animatronic dog who goes out to graze after a Chuck E. Cheese-type restaurant closes. He is down on his luck until someone saves him to be a fixture at a store that sells the company’s Quest 2 virtual reality headset. In the virtual reality world, or metaverse, he meets his animatronic bandmates in a virtual version of the restaurant.

The Meta ad, called “Old Friends, New Fun”, is largely silent aside from Simple Minds’ quintessential new wave pop song from 1985, “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”.

Similarly, Frito-Lay’s “Golden Memories” ad features actors Seth Rogan and Paul Rudd talking about their glory days over a bag of Lay’s potato chips, before Rogan gets married. They comically reminisce about their first road trip in 1997 to Rogan and recently meeting his “girlfriend”, a zombie/ghost in a house he bought.

The commercial features Shania Twain’s 1997 hit “You’re Still the One.”

‘People are ready to be happy’

Whether Super Bowl commercials are nostalgic or not, many of the previews are meant to be funny.

“After a number of years in a kind of Covid, down-in-the-hole mood, people are ready to be happy now,” said Robert Kolt, a Michigan State University advertising professor and Super Bowl advertising guru. “People want to feel good.”

According to the expert, the use of comedy, as well as a large number of celebrities, is seen as a safe bet by advertisers seeking to connect with audiences.

For example, used car sales site caravan features a comical mother who shares too much; AmazonAlexa by Alexa reads the minds of celebrity couple Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost; and comedian Kevin Hart acts like he’s a VIP at Sam’s Club, among others.

“It’s humor and relatability,” Ryan Keeton, Carvana’s co-founder and chief brand officer, said of his Super Bowl ad.

There will also be plenty of animals in the Super Bowl mix. They include a robot dog for Kia and animals, led by a bird voiced by Megan Thee Stallion, who sing Salt-N-Pepa’s 1987 hit “Push It” after eating Flamin’ Hot Doritos and Cheetos.

Budweisera stalwart of Super Bowl publicity, it will also feature an injured Clydesdale horse’s journey to recovery with the help of a friendly dog.

“Anything that makes people feel any kind of emotion is going to be a good ad. And I think that’s one of the reasons why we love animals so much. Who doesn’t love a dog?” Kolt said. “Humour is just what people need right now and I think advertisers are going to give it to us this year.”


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