For the average 30-second Super Bowl advertisement, it costs about $6.5 million in 2022. So there's no doubt that marketing teams behind brands betting big on this year's championship game, in which the Cincinnati Bengals will face off against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday, have put a lot of thought into what will best resonate with viewers.
This year, that's predominantly a dose of nostalgia, alongside a sprinkling of cryptocurrency. There are also some electric vehicles, a mind-reading Alexa and robots thrown in there for good measure.
After a heavy couple of years through the pandemic, during which Super Bowl viewership declined, marketers are banking on that warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from looking into the past, while laying out an optimistic future.
A dose of nostalgia for Verizon, GM and Frito-Lay's
Jim Carrey, for example, will reprise his role from The Cable Guy, which was directed by Ben Stiller back in the mid-1990s, for a Verizon ad on 5G internet that's already seen a teaser get people talking.
Another 1990s film (or, in this case, film series) that is being revived is Austin Powers, as Mike Myers dons the Dr Evil suit once again for automaker GM's ad, inspired by the spy comedy trilogy that debuted in 1997.
The Frito-Lay's comedic ad is literally called Golden Memories and features actors Seth Rogan and Paul Rudd, playing themselves, as they reminisce over milestone friendship moments ahead of Rogan's marriage to a zombie-ghost he met when buying his house, all set to Shania Twain's 1997 hit tune You're Still the One.
“Nostalgia is a really good way to tap into positive memories that large portions of viewing audience will have,” Mitchell Olsen, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, told CNBC. “It’s an opportunity to attach your brands with some of those positive associations.”
Are we entering the Crypto Bowl?
The fact this year's Super Bowl is being dubbed by media outlets as the Crypto Bowl tells us enough. It's the first time cryptocurrency companies have launched their products on the world's biggest advertising stage.
A whole host of cryptocurrency companies have bought slots, but are being fairly secretive as to what we can expect.
Crypto.com, which has had Matt Damon star in its commercials, has a spot, as does cryptocurrency exchange FTX, which reportedly plans to give away Bitcoin during the slot.
Binance hasn't bought an ad spot during the game, but is running a whole campaign around it, with a message to potential buyers not to take investment advice from big-name celebrities who often front crypto ads. "Trust yourself" and "do your own research" are the takeaway messages here, ironically delivered by famous face and NBA star Jimmy Butler.
Even companies not directly involved in the space are exploring blockchain technology within their campaigns. For example, Budweiser has said it will run an online NFT contest during the game, while Bud Light's first zero-carb beer will launch its campaign with an NFT collection.
Besides the ads, crypto is still talk of the Super Bowl, as Canadian rapper Drake has gone all-in with a $1.3 million bet in Bitcoin on the Los Angeles Rams.
Self-aware celebrities front Super Bowl ads, from Lindsay Lohan to Colin Jost
As with every year, brands have not only shelled out millions to run the ad, but to also ensure some of today's biggest celebrities are fronting their campaigns.
Idris Elba has famously fronted an ad for Booking.com that's gone down well as the Luther star brings his usual brand of entertaining charm to this rather self-aware segment that pokes fun at the company, saying it's "not lit". It's had more than 14 million views on YouTube since it dropped on February 9.
Then there's Parent Trap actress Lindsay Lohan who's taken a break from arranging her wedding from her home in Dubai to return to the screen for a Planet Fitness campaign. It also features Dennis Rodman, William Shatner and Danny Trejo as the premise aims to answer one question: "What's gotten into Lindsay?"
In this case, it's Lohan being self-aware, as it references the star's past DUI and paparazzi-fuelled history, implying she's now returned to a state of normality. Shatner narrates her every move, as it ends with: "Maybe it's not what's gotten into Lindsay, it's what Lindsay's gotten into." That's Planet Fitness, of course.
Scarlett Johansson and husband, American comedian Colin Jost, also team up for a funny Alexa ad that explores life if Amazon's AI device could read your mind, in another example of self deprecation from celebrities.
In one scene, Johansson rehearses for a play and when Jost asks when her show opens, Alexa says, "setting reminder to fake your own death on March 8".
In another, the couple are having a dinner party where one guest compliments the quality of the seafood, and Alexa pipes up: "Announcement: Colin left the oysters in the car for five hours."
Jost ends the clip with: "It's probably better Alexa can't read your mind."