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Celebs In, Crypto Out: Breaking Down the Super Bowl 2023 TV Ads

The more than 50 marketers battling during the commercial breaks in Super Bowl LVII turned mainly to familiar faces and light humor.

KC CHiefsThe cryptocurrency brands that made headlines a year ago were notably absent as the Kansas City Chiefs outlasted Philadelphia Eagles, 38-35, in Glendale, Ariz. As the Associated Press reports, other major off-the-field changes included an open field for alcohol ads (Anheuser-Busch ended its exclusivity deal) and a switch to Apple Music from Pepsi as the halftime show sponsor.

Brand Federation CEO Kelly O’Keefe told the AP, “This was a warm and fuzzy year where familiar faces were far more of a presence than controversial themes or hard-hitting humor.”

The ads during this year’s Big Game cost as much as $7 million for a 30-second spot. The Super Bowl typically reaches more than 100 million TV viewers.

As Variety reports, among the boldface names touting such wares as Pepsi Zero Sugar, T-Mobile, General Motors and Avocados From Mexico were Ben Affleck. Bradley Cooper, Will Ferrell, Anna Faris, Nick Jonas, Steve Martin, John Travolta and Pete Davidson. Maya Rudolph, as promised, replaced the M&M’s “spokescandies,” at least temporarily.

Tim Curtis, a partner at WME in charge of celebrity endorsements, told Variety that, after all the social and political tumult in recent years, viewers wanted “to get back to the business of being entertained by our favorite personalities.” But Kai Deveraux Lawson, senior vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion at Dentsu Creative, cautioned that the ads leaned too heavily on celebrities rather than “speaking to what’s happening in the current zeitgeist.”

A CNN reviewer praised the shopping site Rakuten for recruiting Alicia Silverstone—and her Clueless character—in a way that made sense for the brand. But the same reviewer panned as “odd” a Michelob Ultra homage to Caddyshack, which featured Serena Williams, Brian Cox, and numerous other A-listers.

One campaign attracting wide kudos didn’t have a celebrity pitch person: Fresh dog food company The Farmer’s Dog’s spot follows the life of a woman and the dog she promises to love forever. As NPR notes, “I’m not crying, you’re crying.”

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