Does anyone actually watch the Super Bowl for the football anymore? Well, I say football - American football is of course really rugby for sissies, but to be honest, most of us probably stopped tuning in for the game itself. Nowadays it’s for the half-time show (thank you, Lady Gaga) and, of course, the adverts. American and global companies roll out the big marketing budgets and the Hollywood director phone book for Super Bowl Sunday, confident that they will be placing their products in front of one of the biggest TV audiences of the year.
And which advert was the most enticing. Easy - The teaser trailer for season two of Stranger Things. Seriously; I was addicted to season one and now I will be playing the season two trailer on a loop until it makes its debut on Netflix in October.
Oh, cars. Sure, yup, cars. I gotcha. Well, as ever, there was a huge lineup, including one car company keen to point out that it’s trying to be not a car company anymore. That was Ford, which went to some lengths to tell America that it’s branching out into apps, ride-sharing, autonomous cars and even bicycle sharing schemes. Henry Ford once predicted that customers would ask for a faster horse, but I bet he never thought Ford would get into the push-bike business.
Kia continued a run of star-studded adverts by getting queen of comedy Melissa McCarthy (her of Bridesmaids, Ghostbusters and now Saturday Night Live White House press secretary piss-take fame) to point out that while being an eco-warrior isn’t easy (Melissa was squished by a whale, fell off a cliff and down an ice crevasse) it was easy to drive like one thanks to the Niro being, says Kia, the most efficient hybrid crossover around. Short, funny and to the point.
Speaking of having pops at the White House, Audi was the car maker which was the most overtly political, with a lengthy advert where a father agonises over telling his daughter that she’s growing up in an unequal world, where women are often considered less valuable than men. It closed with text, over footage of a new S5 Sportback, that Audi of America is ‘committed to equal pay for equal work’ and that ‘progress is for everyone.’ Refreshing words in the current febrile political climate, but we bet it won’t have Trump fans boycotting Audi in the fashion with which they’ve turned against Budweiser, which aired a specifically immigration and immigrant-friendly ad.
Chevrolet had a short ad with Lego Batman (irrepressibly voiced by Will Arnett) while Buick got American football star Cam Newton and supermodel Miranda Kerr to hawk a re-badged Opel Cascada.
Honda’s advert, for the CR-V, was the most star-studded though; Tina Fey, Robert Redford, Amy Adams, ‘Magic’ Johnson, Steve Carrell, Missy Elliot, Stan Lee, Jimmy Kimmel and Viola Davis all voiced animated versions of their high school yearbook photos in a ‘changing faces’ message. That’s more Oscar nominations, Billboard number ones and basketball all-star picks than you can shake a CR-V driveshaft at.
Did Mercedes pull the star-studded rug out from under Honda, though? Its ‘Easy Driver’ advert, directed by indie faves the Cohen Brothers, arguably had only two stars. The Mercedes AMG GT roadster is handsome enough, but to have none other than Peter Fonda himself driving it? Pretty awesome, especially set to the predictable-but-still-wonderful Steppenwolf soundtrack.
All were gazumped by Alfa Romeo, however. With adverts in the Superbowl slot costing as much as USD$5-million per 30 seconds, Alfa aired no fewer than three commercials for the new Giulia, starring the 510hp V6 turbo Quadrofoligo each time. The ads were relatively simple - just lots of sexy shots of the car, a husky voiceover or two, some Italian language lessons and, best of all, the sharp, barking soundtrack of that blown V6. Red car, big noise, gorgeous cinematography? Apparently, a football game broke out in the middle of all this…