The Super Bowl comes at a time of major social and political turmoil. But you won’t get much sense of that from the ads and teasers that have been previewed so far.
Staying out of the fray may allow brands to avoid controversy, but they’ll miss an opportunity to make memorable marks on our culture.
Last year’s Super Bowl has been described as a “coming out party” for cryptocurrency, with celebrities like Larry David pitching it. Since then, crypto values have plummeted. So far this year, brands seem to not be sticking their necks out. In a Doritos ad, paparazzi bombard rapper Jack Harlow with questions about a love triangle. Budweiser’s spot is based on the theory that we’re all connected by six degrees of separation. Serena Williams takes up golf in an ad for Michelob Ultra.
The ads feel like an alternate universe to the country where the big game is being played. The death of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man, at the hands of Memphis police last month has shaken the nation. (Officers have been charged with murder.) So far this year, more than 150 bills have been proposed to restrict the rights of transgender people. And we’re headed into the 2024 presidential election with a major candidate — former president Donald Trump — who helped incite a deadly attack on the country’s capitol after the last election and still baselessly claims the 2020 election was stolen from him.