AI dominates Super Bowl commercials

February 13, 2024

The Super Bowl is the biggest televised event in the USA with many of the 100 million viewers tuning in for the ads rather than the game. This weekend’s ads saw AI tech feature heavily as well as some lighthearted fun poked at the tech’s drawbacks.

With a 30-second advertising slot costing anywhere from $6m to $7m, you begin to get an idea of the potential market these companies see for AI.

Google Pixel 8 – Javier in frame

Google played on our emotions when it showed how the AI features in its Pixel 8 smartphone go beyond simple utility and can be life-changing for some people.

The ad, directed by blind film director Adam Morse, shows how the Guided Frame accessibility feature can help low-vision and blind people take photos by providing audio descriptions of what the viewfinder is seeing.

Microsoft Copilot

Microsoft leaned into the AI anxiety many creatives currently feel and highlighted how Copilot could help them finish their projects, rather than replace them, for now.

Microsoft took a fair amount of artistic license when they showed a user simply prompt Copilot with “Write code for my 3D open world game…” and then have it spit out a bunch of code.

But they only have a minute to work with and it’s a Super Bowl ad after all so we should probably let it slide. The ad does a good job of giving us a taste of how integrated AI tools like Copilot are going to become in our daily lives.

CrowdStrike – The future

Cybercrime and cybersecurity have seen AI tools used by both bad actors and the folks defending us from them. CrowdStrike provides cloud-based protection to stop breaches, ransomware, and cyber attacks.

The battle between the bad guys and companies like CrowdStrike is going to be an AI-fueled war of attrition. Their ad may be oversimplifying how well their service works but at least it’s entertaining.

Etsy – Gift mode

Etsy’s Gift Mode is a feature that helps people find the perfect gift on its platform. It starts by asking simple questions about who you’re shopping for, the occasion, and their interests and then uses AI to generate tailored gift guides based on your answers.

In the spirit of transatlantic friendship, Etsy’s ad pokes a little fun at the French which is a pastime as much a part of American culture as the Super Bowl.

Body Armor – Field of fake

Taylor Swift’s presence at the Super Bowl would no doubt have brought the issue of AI fakes into sharper focus. Body Armor used the weird visual artifacts and bizarre images AI tools sometimes generate in response to our prompts to call time-out on inauthenticity.

The point of their ad is that everything in their drinks is “real” rather than artificial. The funny thing is that you’d have to go back a few months to use an AI image or video generator that made these weird images and clunky text. The line between real and authentic is fast disappearing.

Despicable Me 4

The fourth installment of Despicable Me will hit the big screen on July 3. The full trailer doesn’t seem to have anything to do with AI but they worked AI into a promo for the movie anyway.

Like Body Armor, they used AI images of hands with extra fingers, or three-legged people to poke fun at ‘how bad AI is’ at creating art. You’ve got to wonder how much of the actual movie was made using AI-generated art, scripts, or voice clones.

Considering the SAG-AFTRA actors and screenwriters strike still fresh in our memories this might have hit a little too close to home.

The AI-rich ads during the biggest spectacle on US television were probably an accurate reflection of the zeitgeist the tech has inspired. People are curious, inspired, afraid, and maybe even dismissive of AI.

Next year’s ads may be less focused on the novelty of the tech itself, but they will almost certainly feature a lot more AI-generated content.

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Eugene van der Watt

Eugene comes from an electronic engineering background and loves all things tech. When he takes a break from consuming AI news you'll find him at the snooker table.


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