Stars and sequels at Super Bowl 50

Everything felt a little more star-studded and self-deprecating this year, writes Droga5 group creative director

Were there an exceptional number of celebrities participating in Super Bowl commercials this year? I know what you’re thinking: "You idiot. It’s the Super Bowl. Of course there were celebrity ads." First, let’s watch the name-calling. And second, yes. There are always celebrities in Super Bowl ads. 

 But didn’t it feel like there were even more celebrities this year? 

 Twenty-four out of 57 ads in the USA Today Ad Meter — not counting the trailers — had one or more big celebrities in them.  And in most of those cases, those celebrities were in it to win it: whether that meant bull riding, piano-riding, alien subjugation or taking shit from sassy beer taps.

Everything just felt a little more star-studded and self-deprecating in 2016. Maybe that’s because this year’s tone stood in such stark contrast to last year’s somber gestalt. Is that classic irreverence and lightheartedness what attracts celebs to Big Game advertising?

Or was it just The Beyoncé Effect this year? (Dammit, Chris Martin, move! You’re in the shot!)

Most likely what brought out the stars were the checks. And like every year, not all of those checks are written with the clearest of visions. But there were a couple standouts: ads that used exactly the right celeb for the idea and the brand.

The ridiculous premise of Kia’s "Walken Closet," for example, was oddly brilliant. It’s just … sticky. I can see the client "Walken" the halls with that one after the presentation, giddy. It’s too dumb-in-a-good-way not to work on The Super Bowl. And if they ever doubted the idea for a moment in the 47 months of creative development that precedes Super Bowl spots, they probably could just pull up The Continental on YouTube, to ease their jitters. 

 Willem Defoe as Marilyn was a solid follow-up to The Brady Bunch for Snickers. (Sequels are the friggin hardest ... I had to follow Mini Darth.) And I thought what Squarespace did with Key and Peele was pretty innovative (and kind of funny — at least the bit I tuned in for).

But beyond that, all those celebrities made the Super Bowl feel like the Super Bowl again. For better or for worse.

Oh. And speaking of celebrities: PuppyMonkeyBaby ... What the hell was that? I don’t know. But I’m guessing by my kids’ reaction, it’s going to be a huge celebrity soon, too.

Matt Ian is group creative director with Droga5.

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