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Super Bowl 2022: Celebrity Sightings or Star Power?


The Shipyard's CCO David Sonderman on why some Super Bowl advertisers used celebrity better than others

Super Bowl 2022: Celebrity Sightings or Star Power?

The Super Bowl is where brands go to entertain and be talked about. Kia charmed us with its adorable e-puppy. Facebook Meta depressed us with the discarded animatronics of our youth (why, oh why?). And Cheetos delighted with a cast of adorable CG animals, led by the fastest sloth on the planet. 

But if you want to get there faster, use a celebrity really well.

Rather than invest in creating a lovable character and story arc, a celebrity gives brands instant recognition and a backstory to leverage. It’s hard to land the right celebrity, and expensive. So, make sure the creative idea is better because of them. 

Who did it best during the Super Bowl? 

Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost were naturals for Amazon Alexa. We all like to imagine celebrities at home, and this glimpse into their spoken — and unspoken — marriage banter made them relatable. But what made that idea really sing was that we already believe Alexa is listening to everything we say and reading our minds. So having some really funny and familiar minds to read was critical. 

What we know about the celebrity can inform the idea itself. Eugene Levy has made a career out of understated, nuanced comedic delivery. To have him transform into a catch line-spewing/Fabio-haired action hero for Nissan was a blast to watch. A sports car transforming its driver is a tired idea, but using Levy was a brilliant execution that made Nissan’s turn on it fresh and fun. 

Sometimes an idea is so tightly wrapped around a celebrity that there simply wouldn’t be an idea without them. Like Toyota did. From the opening line, “Jones,”  it had to be Tommy Lee, Leslie and Rashida driving Toyota Tundras to make the “keeping up with the Joneses” idea work. Nick Jonas gave us all a bonus smile from what must have been a robust celebrity budget. 

Larry David was brilliant as history’s “No” man on innovations — toilets, lightbulbs, the wheel. Could anyone else have delivered the shutdowns with such charm and bite? Nope. It’s classic Larry David attitude and critique. This was a brilliant celebrity infused idea for the little-known FTX crypto exchange. 

The right celebrity can also make a really good idea become a standout in execution. SquareSpace did that with Zendaya. “Sally sells seashells by the seashore” was a fun visual and verbal alliteration, beautifully edited. It could’ve been done without Zendaya, but it was better and more noteworthy in having her. 

And Uber Eats’ “Uber Don’t Eats” spot would’ve been pretty funny in its own right as an idea, but it was far more outrageous and memorable by seeing Gwyneth Paltrow, Trevor Noah and Jennifer Coolidge eating candles, lightbulbs and lipstick, respectively. 

All of those celebrities — along with Arnold, Selma, Anna, Matthew, Paul and Seth, and many others — did their part to lend instant recognition and credibility to their respective brands. The ones that leveraged their celebrity investments better than others, that wove their creativity in and around their celebrities, are brands that audiences will be talking about more than others.

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The Shipyard, Wed, 16 Feb 2022 10:23:45 GMT