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I’m Ad Age Editor Jeanine Poggi, counting down to Super Bowl LVI. With less than one week left until the Cincinnati Bengals face off against the Los Angeles Rams, airing on NBC on Feb. 13, Ad Age is bringing you breaking news, analysis and first looks at the high-stakes Big Game commercials—all in our Super Bowl newsletter. Sign up right here to get them in your email.

From the court to the bowling alley

Michelob Ultra assembled six sports stars for its Super Bowl ad, taking their fiercely competitive nature to a somewhat unlikely “arena.” Serena Williams, Peyton Manning, golfer Brooks Koepka, soccer legend Alex Morgan and basketball stars Jimmy Butler and Nneka Ogwumike battle it out at the bowling alley, Ad Age’s E.J. Schultz reports. Steve Buscemi, who played a bowler in the movie “The Big Lebowski,” serves as bartender. 

The ad continues Michelob Ultra’s Super Bowl strategy of bringing together athletes engaged in activities outside of the sport for which they are known, while also giving equal representation to male and female stars. 

You can watch Michelob Ultra’s ad and all the Super Bowl ads released so far here

 

Sticking with the tried-and-true

Super Bowl commercials this year will include glitzy forms of marketing innovation, such as NFTs and references to the metaverse, but many advertisers are also continuing to stick with tried-and-true Big Game advertising tactics to win over consumers. Even as Super Bowl marketers explore virtual worlds, they are simultaneously touching upon themes of nostalgia and relying on high-profile celebrities in an effort to resonate with the 100 million or so viewers who will likely watch the game. Here’s a look at Super Bowl commercial tricks that have long been in brands’ arsenal and are getting a new spin. 

To keep track of all the advertisers running national spots in the game, bookmark Ad Age’s regularly updated Super Bowl ad chart

They're eating what?

Celebrities, along with plenty of normal folk, eat a lot of strange things in Uber Eats’ Super Bowl spot. Jennifer Coolidge, Trevor Noah, Gwyneth Paltrow and Nicholas Braun chow down on non-food items like cat litter, dish soap and diapers, Ad Age’s Ann-Christine Diaz writes. 

Irish Spring also released its first Super Bowl ad this week, showing a river traveler who is swept to a distant land where odors are not tolerated, Ad Age’s Jack Neff writes. He is dipped into a large vat of water that is, it seems, filled with Irish Spring body wash. He emerges refreshed and joins his captors in dancing around a giant bottle of Irish Spring body wash as if it were a Stonehenge-like monolith.

Overheard on set

Big Game veteran Gerry Graf, of Slap Global, recalls the top five lines he’s heard from clients, talent and more, before, during and after he created some of his memorable spots for the Big Game. These include things like, “You made Tom Hanks upset,” and “What should we say in one second to really portray the brand experience?”

More crypto

Yet another crypto brand is joining the Super Bowl fray. Israeli social investment network eToro makes its Super Bowl commercial debut alongside FTX and Crypto.com. Creative details remain undisclosed, but a teaser released earlier this week included the caption, “From Sunday, investing will never be the same.”

Hear more about Super Bowl ad plans on the latest episode of the Marketer's Brief podcast.

 

Brands tease movie remakes 

“The Cable Guy” and “Austin Powers” will get some new life—decades later—in Super Bowl commercials. Verizon hinted at the return of Jim Carrey as the cable guy in its teaser, while General Motors showed in its teaser Rob Lowe and Mike Myers reprising their “Austin Powers” roles. 

You can watch these teasers, along with others including new ones from Google and TurboTax, here.

Big Game insights

Directors, marketers and agency execs behind some of this year's most anticipated in-game ads discussed their strategies with Ad Age today. Missed it? You can catch up here.