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Super Bowl LIV: Odd Celebrity Pairings And Real-Life Relationships Draw On Emotional Appeal

With just a few days until the Super Bowl kicks off, brands are already vying for viewers’ hard-won attention.

But which brands are getting noticed before a ball has even been kicked? And which trends are we seeing emerging already?

Well, emotions are certainly heightened around the Super Bowl – and not just around what’s happening on the pitch.

Emotions also play a key part in the ads, with two already playing a leading role in Super Bowl LIV.

Unusual celebrity pairings create lots of laughs

Celebrities and the Super Bowl go hand in hand — and this year is no different. Actors, music artists, talk show hosts, comedians and even politicians feature throughout this year’s Big Game spots. The difference this time around is there are lots of unusual celebrity pairings, often with hilarious results.

Actors Chris Evans and John Krasinski, athlete David Ortiz and comedian Rachel Dratch all appear in Hyundai’s Big Game spot. Although they’re famous for different things, Evans, Krasinski and Dratch were all born in Massachusetts. The spot pokes fun at their New England accents, which turn “Smart Park” into “Smaht Pahk”.

Perhaps the most unusual pairing of them all, artist Lil Nas X and actor Sam Elliot, appear in Doritos’ “Cool Ranch”. Set in the days of the old Wild West and with Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road’ playing in the background, it has them both dressed in cowboy gear for a shootout with a difference!

Other unusual pairings are millennial nostalgia icon Missy Elliot and new gen artist, H.E.R. in Pepsi’s Zero Sugar drink ad and actors Chris Rock and Sylvester Stallone in Facebook’s Super Bowl spot.

Rather than following the unusual celebrity pairing trend, classic snack and drink brands Cheetos and Mountain Dew use the fact that they have both been in the market for a long time to their advantage by injecting nostalgia into their creative strategies.

Cheetos spot features pop legend MC Hammer and his catchy “Can’t Touch This” tune, while Mtn Dew parody 1980 horror staple, The Shining, featuring actors Bryan Cranston and Tracee Ellis Ross in their ‘MTN DEW Zero Sugar, As Good As The Original’ ad. Both these ads are especially nostalgic for those who grew up in the late 80s and early 90s.

Brands use real relationships to move audiences

At the other end of the spectrum, brands also use the Super Bowl to show they also have a more serious side. From somber music to the juxtaposition of inspiring images against a motivational narrative, these ads all use real stories of human compassion to move audiences.

New York Life’s ad by Anomaly, ‘Love Takes Action’, celebrates the insurance brand’s 175th anniversary by talking about different types of love. Agápē, which the ad focuses on, is love as an action, and the spot plays out a number of heart-warming situations where people display this.

At one of America’s most iconic events of the year, Budweiser’s ‘Typical American’ takes the opportunity to recite American stereotypes while featuring prime “examples” of American people portraying these stereotypes but in the best ways possible. This includes ‘showing up unannounced’, where a soldier returns home to surprise his father, and ‘showing off strength’, where a fireman is fighting a forest fire. The ad’s inspiring display aims to make American’s watching feel a sense of pride.

‘Loretta,’ a 90-second ad by Google tells a love story based on a real-life couple. An 85-year-old widower tells his Google Assistant details about his late wife to help him remember her. This includes his favorite images of them together, which are shown throughout the ad displaying their many years of love and romance. This advert is similar to a previous spot released by Google back in 2009 called ‘Parisian Love’, which shows the search terms an American uses while looking to fall in love in Paris.

We will be running the biggest ads of this year’s Super Bowl through our emotional targeting and testing tool UnrulyEQ. To see which ones come out on top, sign up here to receive our Super Bowl LIV insights right in your inbox.