Here’s what tech companies are advertising this Super Bowl Sunday: Crypto, EVs and the metaverse

Most tech companies are featuring celebrities in their ads this year, while Meta is tapping into the metaverse.

Illustration of football helmets with tech logos on them

Here’s a look at some of the biggest themes you can expect from tech companies’ ads.

Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

Creators, celebrities, avatars and crypto enthusiasts are all getting their red carpet moment during Super Bowl LVI. They won’t be on the football field, of course, but tech companies will spotlight them during commercial breaks. Crypto companies will be particularly front and center this year, but a slew of other tech companies will tap into the rise of creators and the ambiguous metaverse in their ads.

Per Front Office Sports, 30-second spots are going for $7 million. If that figure is correct, this year would be the most expensive for Super Bowl ads ever. At least a dozen tech companies have signed up for an ad anyway, including Meta, Amazon, Expedia and Verizon, and slots for those commercials have sold out.

Jef Loeb, a brand strategist for the marketing firm Brainchild Creative, said the Super Bowl is the “single most efficient media buy” ever. “The number of impressions delivered in that period of time is unmatched by any other standard, by any other media opportunity out there,” Loeb told Protocol.

Here’s a look at some of the biggest themes you can expect from tech companies’ ads this Super Bowl Sunday.

Bring on the celebrities

When in doubt, toss a celebrity into the mix. Uber, Squarespace and Amazon are all featuring a star-studded cast in their commercials this year. Jim Carrey will appear as Verizon’s favorite cable guy, Lizzo will drop a new track in Google’s ad and Zendaya will play the main character in Squarespace’s seashell-themed video.

Uber came out with a 15-second teaser of its Uber Eats Super Bowl commercial, which features Trevor Noah bringing a stick of deodorant to his armpit, then, on second thought, taking a bite out of it. There are no rules in Super Bowl commercials.

Alexa has been the star of Amazon’s commercials for a few years now. This year, the company will present Scarlett Johansson and Colin Jost in their first on-screen debut as a couple. Alexa will apparently pretend to be a mind-reader in the 90-second commercial.

In case you’ve forgotten about the metaverse…

Meta is here to remind you that it is still a thing. Or at least, it's a thing Meta is working on. The company is promoting its Oculus headsets with the help of an animatronic band led by a dog. The dog loses its bandmates throughout the commercial, and is only reunited with them in Horizon Worlds. The commercial is quite a shift from last year, when the company formerly known as Facebook promoted Groups during game breaks.

The metaverse critics are participating in the Super Bowl, too. Salesforce tapped Matthew McConaughey to play an astronaut who comes back down to Earth. “It’s not time to escape. It’s time to engage,” McConaughey says as he floats down on a hot air balloon. “All the others look to the metaverse and Mars. Let’s stay here and restore ours,” he says later. In case that’s not on the nose enough, he’s also wearing a badge that says “Team Earth.”

Car companies are all-in on electric

Car commercials are a longtime staple of the Super Bowl, and this year they’re going electric. General Motors, Kia, BMW and Nissan all plan to highlight their electric vehicles during the commercial break, with the help of “Schitt’s Creek” star Eugene Levy, a robotic dog and the song “Here Tonight.”

In Nissan’s commercial, Levy and Brie Larson walk down a red carpet toward their new Nissan Z, and Arnold Schwarzenegger and Salma Hayek Pinault star as Greek gods Zeus and Hera in BMW’s commercial. GM seems to be the only one talking specifically about how EVs are better for the planet with the help of Dr. EV-il from “Austin Powers.” Which, sure.

Get out of your home

The travel industry has a message this year: Get moving, you cabin fever-having lunatic. Expedia and Booking.com are both using their ads to get people traveling again.

Booking.com is airing its first Super Bowl ad ever this year, and CEO Glenn Fogel said the company is trying to tap a “tremendous amount of desire to travel.” “We think this is a great time to reintroduce Booking.com and bring forward this lighthearted idea of travel,” Fogel told CNBC. The company will feature actor Idris Elba in the commercial on Sunday, and separately on that day, it’ll raffle off a vacation giveaway.

Expedia, on the other hand, will highlight Vrbo in its commercial. Jon Gieselman, the president of Expedia Brands, told The Wall Street Journal that its commercial will emphasize experiences over things. “The Super Bowl spot asks that question, ‘Do you want to invest in more stuff, or experiences?’” Gieselman said.

Or just open TikTok

Instacart hasn’t announced a Super Bowl commercial, but the company said it is launching a campaign with TikTok creators leading up to game day. Instacart partnered with six TikTok influencers to promote their party plans and favorite dishes for the game. The company is encouraging people to interact with their content by using the hashtag #hereforthesnacks.

Instacart is also offering deals on snacks ahead of the game. Between Wednesday and Saturday, customers can get a discount on a different snack or drink, depending on the day.

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