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If the commercials during 2022’s Super Bowl LVI were defined by a wave of crypto ads (RIP FTX), the ads airing during the upcoming Super Bowl LVII are shaping up to be defined by culture wars, with a candy ad apparently responding to a conservative cable news segment, and ads for nonalcoholic beer, sugar-free soda and the issue of food waste all on tap.
Lest you think the big game is getting too soft, there will also be Walter White (Bryan Cranston) shilling for a snack food and Serena Williams and Brian Cox selling beer, so the classic genres will be well represented.
On Monday, M&M’s announced that it was taking an “indefinite pause” from its long-running “spokescandies” and would instead rely on a new spokesperson: Maya Rudolph.
The decision was allegedly made after online commenters (as well as Fox News host Tucker Carlson) took issue with recent changes made to the candy characters. As it happens, this year’s Super Bowl will air on the Fox broadcast network.
“We weren’t sure if anyone would notice. And we definitely didn’t think it would break the internet,” the candy brand wrote in a press release. “But now we get it — even a candy’s shoes can be polarizing. Which was the last thing M&M’s wanted since we’re all about bringing people together.”
Of course, the entire bit is a setup for a Super Bowl ad, which will air in the first quarter of the game, and which will star Rudolph. Whether the brand leans into the culture wars or pursues a different strategy remains to be seen. As for the future of the spokescandies, keep in mind that Mr. Peanut’s untimely death ahead of Planters’ Super Bowl ad in 2020 was short-lived.
But fictional talking candies aren’t the only thing that could garner the internet’s attention this year. For a day so closely tied to indulgence (alcoholic beverages, lots and lots of unhealthy food), a number of campaigns appear set to lean into restraint.
Hence Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man chugging on a nonalcoholic Heineken before saving the world (a joint campaign between Disney and the Dutch beer giant) or Pepsi promoting its sugar-free soda, in the beginning of a major new campaign.
Frito-Lay, which produces a good percentage of the products in your supermarket snack aisle, is promoting one of its healthiest options: PopCorners, a popcorn-based chip. The company has hired Cranston and Aaron Paul to reprise their Breaking Bad characters of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman for the spot.
Even a mayonnaise company is going to lean into environmentalism, with Hellmann’s debuting a new installment of its “Make Taste, Not Waste” campaign.
Of course, it’s still the Super Bowl, so this year’s game will have plenty of familiar faces and brands.
So far Kevin Bacon is committed to a Budweiser ad, while Serena Williams and Brian Cox are starring in a Caddyshack parody for Michelob Ultra.
With the big game still three weeks away, there’s plenty of room for more surprises. And if brands want to drum up some hype, perhaps stoking the outrage machine could be just the ticket.
After all, no one was talking about the shoes that cartoon M&Ms wear until Carlson dedicated an entire segment to the topic. A zero-alcohol or zero-sugar beverage, mayonnaise more concerned with the environment than sandwiches, or a healthy snack food could be the next outrage du jour.
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