Super Bowl commercials without celebrities are like Super Bowls without footballs — doesn't happen, never will. But a pair of major ads, released late this week, appear to have taken celebrity worship to a new level — including outer space.
First, the 90-second pre-release for Amazon's Alexa, titled "Not Everything Makes the Cut," which features a total of six celebrities, not including the dog, who seems like he or she should be a celebrity too. They are: Forest Whitaker; Harrison Ford; Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson (of "Broad City") and brother astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly.
The throughline — which is also the punchline: Not every idea Amazon has had for an Alexa brand extension has worked in real-world trials. Example: The "Alexa dog collar," and...cue to that dog, owned apparently by Ford, which orders dog food by the truckload while barking commands into his/her collar.
In the Pepsi pre-release, Steve Carell, Cardi B and Lil Jon star -- and star effectively. Carell -- overhearing a waiter asking a customer if "it's OK" that she get a Coke instead of a Pepsi -- jumps in with mock outrage, followed by a few rhetorical questions:
"Are puppies OK? Are shooting stars OK...?"
And then he throws it to Lil Jon, at a counter, who agrees, then to Cardi B — who walks into the diner pretty much the way you'd expect Cardi B to walk into a diner — who also agrees.
Point taken: Yeah, it's more than OK to have a Pepsi instead of a Coke.
Meanwhile, another Super Bowl celeb is baseball legend Alex Rodriguez. Remember A-Rod's latest career pivot — as Super Bowl spokesman for Planters, the nut company? Of course you do. (How could you forget?) On Monday, Planters released a brief tease of A-Rods' Super Bowl ad. On Wednesday, we got the full nut.
This 30-second ad features the famed Planters Peanut mobile, AKA Nutmobile — driven by Mister Peanut — plowing its way violently through some town, while Mötley Crüe's "Kickstart My Heart" plays.
Cut to Charlie Sheen, sitting on a park bench: "And some people think I'm nuts."
Mr. Peanut, we learn, is in a hurry to get to A-Rod who is about to reach for a bowl of kale chips. Mr. Peanuts subs nuts instead, just as the former Yankee and holder of the third and fourth largest contracts in baseball history is about to make a serious snack food misjudgement.
The kicker: "Always there in crunchtime."
“It’s really a dream come true. I’ve never been in a Super Bowl ad, and I sort of dreamed about it, but I never dreamed this high," A-Rod told People last week.
In a spot released earlier this week, "Sex and the City," met The Dude. And met they have, in a Stella Artois commercial, which yokes a pair of cultural icons, Carrie Bradshaw and Jeff "the Dude" Lebowski. Bradshaw is played by (who else?) Sarah Jessica Parker and Lebowski is played by (who else?) Jeff Bridges in an ad that sells beer a little more conspicuously than the one Matt Damon starred in for Artois last year at this time. (In Damon's Water.org campaign, he urged Super Bowl viewers to buy a Stella Artois "chalice" — or drinking glass — so that 'we can give clean water to one million people (in the developing world) for five years . . .")
This campaign is also tied to Water.org, but this commercial directs viewers to "#pouritforward" at the ad's conclusion.
Here's the plot: Bradshaw, making an entrance as only Carrie can make, enters a restaurant where she is warmly greeted by the maitre D', who then asks the obligatory "Cosmopolitan?" No, says she, "tonight I'll have a Stella Artois." Her choice stuns onlookers, and general restaurant mayhem ensures. Coolness is restored when the Dude enters.
"White Russian?" he is asked.
No, he'll take a "Stella Are-Toes."
More mayhem. More broken plates.
Carrie then leans over to congratulate him on his choice.
Says he, "changing can do a little good," then ads the obligatory, "the Dude abides."
"Sex and the City" aired six seasons on HBO (1998-2004), while the Coen Brothers' "The Big Lebowski" premiered in 1998. The "Pour It Forward" campaign is an initiative between Artois and Water.org, co-founded by Damon. Per AP, both will donate between one to 12 months of clean water to someone in an underdeveloped country based on the amount of Stella Artois packs bought.
The Super Bowl pre-release commercial party began last week, and launching the festivities: Budweiser. Per Bud, a minute-long commercial titled "Wind Never Felt Better" released Wednesday "tells the story of Budweiser’s commitment to renewable electricity for a more sustainable future and features the iconic Budweiser Clydesdales, the Budweiser Dalmatian, April, alongside wind turbines set to the soundtrack of “Blowin’ in the Wind,” sung by music legend Bob Dylan."
Which means — quite obviously — that Bud has buried its lede: Bob Dylan? "Blowin' in the Wind?!" The 1963 classic from "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan," and possibly — probably — the most famous protest song in history and No. 14 on Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Songs," in thraldom to a beer?
Watch. You will have your answers.