Super Bowl Commercials 2019: Brands Play It Safe And Look To The Future
“There’s a lot of cross-generational appeal with the Backstreet Boys,” said Jennifer Saenz, chief marketing officer of Frito-Lay North America, which is owned by PepsiCo. “They were relevant a decade ago and still relevant today.”
In the Super Bowl host city, Pepsi erected billboards and put out recycling bins while “trying to paint Atlanta blue,” according to Greg Lyons, chief marketing officer of Pepsi’s North American beverage unit. The city is home to Coca-Cola, but Pepsi’s signage sought to remind people that its brand was the “official soft drink of Super Bowl LIII.”
Strong women and a push against stereotypes
Bumble, the dating app that requires women to message potential matches first, ran its first Super Bowl ad, which featured the tennis star Serena Williams urging women to “make the first move” in all areas of their lives. Toyota’s commercial chronicled the unexpected path of a football player named Antoinette Harris, and compared her journey to one of its vehicles, which it said “will shatter perceptions.”
“The female empowerment theme this year is very real,” Professor Taylor said. “That doesn’t mean it’s overwhelming — there’s still more ads with male lead characters and still more male celebrities — but I think it’s narrowed a little bit.”
“I haven’t seen any ads that objectify women, which is awesome,” said Margaret Johnson, chief creative officer of the agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners.
“Over all, the gap is narrowing,” she said. “We’re moving in the right direction.”
Playing it safe
Advertisers largely seemed to be avoiding anything remotely controversial — perhaps seeking to learn from years past.
Last year, Ram trucks faced criticism after it used a sermon by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as the voice-over for its Super Bowl ad. The timing didn’t help, considering one story line last season was about N.F.L. players who sat or knelt during the national anthem to draw attention to racial oppression and police brutality against black Americans.