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Sometimes the Super Bowl is an action packed battle. Sometimes, like last night, it’s pretty much a snoozer, with one team dominating the other. But there are always commercials for entertainment. This might be the only time of year that I don’t hit Tivo’s fast-forward button with every commercial break.
In recent years, the rise of Big Tech has led to a host of memorable multi-million dollar spots in the big game.
Two years ago, Microsoft had a heartbreaking ad showing disabled kids using their Xbox Adaptive Controller and Google Also brought me to tears with his announcement showing the power of his real-time translation app. Amazon had a funny one about the products that weren’t cut that year as well.
Last year, Amazon introduced Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi to a pre-Alexa world, Microsoft took us behind the scenes with groundbreaking NFL coach Katie Sowers, and Google once again shook off the most tears. with a stain on a man using his service. remember his wife Loretta. Facebook also launched its very first Super Bowl commercial, with Sylvester Stallone and Chris Rock highlighting the diversity of Facebook group offerings.
Google, Microsoft, and Facebook just sat there. Apple was, as usual, also absent. And from Amazon very attractive ad with Michael B. Jordan, out before the game, did not take place until the end of the fourth quarter, when the game was almost over and half the audience had probably folded.
Now there could be several explanations for this year’s absences. On the one hand, many big brands including Budweiser, Coke and Pepsi decided that in the midst of an ongoing pandemic was not the time to invest in an expensive ad (although some related brands did). And maybe we’ll hear from some of the tech companies more directly if asked.
But it’s also probably another sign that Big Tech has gone from beloved to bedridden.
After multiple antitrust lawsuits, congressional inquiries, and a shift in the public’s focus on bad behavior, it was likely difficult to justify the running of welfare ads that would likely be seen as cynical attempts to change the conversation. A Fortune and SurveyMonkey poll last month found that 64% of Americans were concerned about Big Tech’s antitrust violations and 48% supported winding up at least one of the companies. Big Tech’s problems in 2021 are too big and too serious to laugh (or cry) even with the most compelling Super Bowl commercials.
On the flip side, a tech company with perhaps the worst ad campaign in recent times – Robinhood –always broadcast his ad with the slogan: “We are all investors.” Investors in MEMESTONKS, I guess.
Still, it left plenty of room for small tech companies to crack us up. In a Gen X-meets-Gen Z room, Uber Eats paired Wayne’s World duo Mike Myers and Dana Carvey with pop star Cardi B. Logitech had Lil Nas X greet “The manufacturers, the pioneers, the creators.” And there was also the nice place for Intuit’s TurboTax which pointed out the weird and wacky variety tax rules in different states (do they really tax cow gas in some states? What does that mean?). And what about all those little tech companies who sank? Mercari, Fiverr, Vroom and Dexcom ran spots. Does Oatly count as a tech company? Food Technology? Will all of these businesses last until the Super Bowl next year? (2020 announcer Quibi did not appear in this year’s game.)
Away from technology, there were plenty of fun and moving spots from other brands. One of my favorites was Toyota commercial telling the story of Paralympic swimmer Jessica Long. It was extremely moving, even if it had nothing to do with cars.
Getting out of this important place is one way Big Tech can deal with its current issues. Now the question is, will they return for Super Bowl 2022?