Superbowl LXI Commercials Specials

If you were one of the millions of people who watched the Super Bowl, you no doubt saw the plentiful commercials from the minds at Madison Avenue (or Silicon Valley – more on that later) and while you may have your favorite, today I’d like to talk about 4 of my personal picks.

These each aired during the 56th Superbowl, that took place on Sunday February 13th, 2022. The themes I noted have bearing in our joined mission to reduce human suffering and misery. In this episode I am going to cover why these four ads stood out, why they were, or were not effective and what they mean to you in the broader context.

Full Transcript:

The Paul Kristoffer Show: Bonus Episode: Four Superbowl LXI commercials that stood out


Welcome to the Paul Kristoffer Show, this is Paul Kristoffer. Today, we are going to talk about Superbowl Commercials, and in particular, four that stood out to me. If you were one of the millions of people who watched the Super Bowl, you no doubt saw the plentiful commercials from the minds at Madison Avenue (or Silicon Valley – more on that later) and while you may have your favorite, today I’d like to talk about 4 of my personal picks.

These each aired during the 56th Superbowl, that took place on Sunday February 13th, 2022. The themes I noted have bearing in our joined mission to reduce human suffering and misery. In this episode I am going to cover why these four ads stood out, why they were, or were not effective and what they mean to you in the broader context.

View the ads that are under discussion in this episode via links below (subject to change by the owner of the advertisement’s copyrights):

Let’s start off with the best commercial, Coinbase, and why it resonated:

  • What it was:
    • A bouncing QR code, reminiscent of a DVD player screensaver, as seen in the comedy series, “The Office”. Electronic Background music played, which was very reminiscent of rudimentary 1980’s video games, such as pong. Notably, the song was created by musician Com Truise. As the QR bounces about the screen, the audience naturally begins to anticipate the magical moment when the symbol will precisely strike a corner of the screen and bounce. Incredibly, the QR code hits the exact upper right corner, recalling the television comedy series, where the office staff remain transfixed for hours to see a real DVD screensaver hit the corner of an old cathode ray Television screen.
  • Why it was effective:
    • The commercial evokes both a popular a meme and an episode of a classic, comedy, tv show. The team used music that reflects and enhances the vibe of the DVD era, and rewarded fans by having the QR code bounce precisely into the top right corner of the screen. The ad was highly effective in capturing the attention of their target audience. Naturally, the viewer becomes curious about where the QR code will lead them. That curiosity was rewarded with $15 worth of Bitcoin for opening an account with Coinbase. How great is that!
    • Converting their target customer, in real time, during the Superbowl by having them open an account was brilliant. The same mechanism that attracted attention (the bouncing QR code), became the vehicle to convert new customers, via the landing page which was invoiced by the users smartphone. Of course, today almost everyone has their smartphone in their hands during sports events (it used to be a beer, or soda, in the old days).
  • Why is cryptocurrency important in the broader context of reducing human suffering?
    • Cryptocurrency can help reduce the harmful effects of inflation. Inflation lowers our buying power and wreaks havoc on our savings:
      • Cryptocurrency is, at least in theory, far less susceptible to manipulation by central banks and Inflation. The economies of The Wiemar Republic, Zimbabwe, Argentina, the United States in the 1980’s and 2022, have all suffered from runaway inflation that destroyed the savings of everyday people. Inflation creates a wage / price race where wages try to keep up with price gains, but they never quite seem to succeed in keeping pace. This creates misery for millions of people who need to spend an ever increasing percentage of their income and savings on necessities like fuel, food and health care or medicine.
      • Inflation occurs when central banks attempt to rescue their economies by infusing more cash into the system. It usually results in runaway inflation that is difficult and very painful to tame. Often, inflationary periods result in recession or depression, when central banks inevitably raise interest rates.
      • Cryptocurrency is different, because no single person, or group, controls the amount of currency that is produced by the system. In the case of Bitcoin, the total number of  coins that can be minted is capped at 21 million. By contrast, US Dollars, can be ‘minted’ at will by the US treasury. For example, there are currently an estimated $1.2 trillion dollars in circulation, but in the period of 2020-2021, the U.S. Government paid out or committed about $10 trillion dollars to stimulate the economy. What effect did that have on buying power? Well, current dollars have about 7.5% less spending power. Unfortunately, that rate is still rising and we don’t yet know what the peak will be.
    • Cryptocurrency is easier to transact and no banks or governments can control who has access to the system:
      • Crypto can be sent and received by anyone using the blockchain and a crypto wallet. This avoids the need to pay excessive fees to baks, or to fill out detailed and invasive application forms that violate one’s right to privacy.  Ultimately, this makes transacting faster, lower cost and easier. 
      • It’s very helpful to the most vulnerable in our society – including low wage earners who otherwise cannot get a bank account. Often, these groups and are forced to rely on check cashing companies or payday loan operations that charge high rates and fees.
      • Crypto eliminates reliance on banks and the banking system. In the credit crisis of 2008, the U.S. Treasury bailed out many banks that participated in the credit bubble through The Credit and Stabilization Act of 2008, but left adrift millions of people who fell into the trap of taking out more loans than they could pay back.
  • Here are some steps that you can think about:
    • If you haven’t already, learn more about cryptocurrency. Do your own research. If it makes sense to your financial portfolio, and you have funds for speculation, try buying cryptocurrency. I am currently buying Bitcoin and Ether. Ether is the currency of the Ethereum platform.

Let’s move on to the second commercial, Toyota, featuring the McKeever Brothers and their story:

  • What was it:
    • A video about two brothers, one of whom is diagnosed with an untreatable form of macular degeneration. His eye disease results in reduced vision. We are led to believe, through the video, that the brother suffering from vision loss is essentially blind. The other brother dedicates himself to helping the visually impaired sibling to train for cross country skiing, and they win several medals together. 
    • After this emotional story, that continues for almost a minute, we learn that the commercial is for Toyota.
  • Why it was not effective:
    • The commercial was not effective because the story literally had nothing to do with Toyota. The emotional story of the brothers was linked to their love for each other, and how neither gave up in the face of many obstacles. It is a beautiful story.
    • The fact that Toyota would use disabled people to try to sell cars to millenials, or burnish their brand is not appealing. Toyota should focus on building great cars for their customers. If Toyota wishes to support the paralympics as part of an authentic, altruistic endeavor, that is great. But to tie Toyota branding to the story of the brothers without any further context, is appalling.
  • What it means in the broader context of reducing human misery:
    • Using the emotional stories of disabled persons who overcome their limitations to accomplish great deeds, to sell cars is highly disingenuous. It is inauthentic and abusive. Its inauthentic because Toyota has nothing to do with this story whatsoever. Its abusive because Toyota is pulling on our heart strings through this beautiful story of filial devotion, and then abruptly presents their logo – as if Toyota had something to do with motivating the brothers to attain their impressive accomplishments. 
    • The most valuable automaker in the world does no advertising whatsoever, and is focused on transitioning the human race to a world of electrically powered vehicles. Toyota ought to learn more, and preach less.
  • What you can do about it:
    • You can think about choosing to not buy a Toyota, and tell Toyota why you are making this choice. Post on social media, and be sure to give me a shoutout.
    • Donate to a charity supportive of those with disabilities, and support disabled athletes directly through the paralympics organization.
    • Volunteer to support disabled persons and perform acts of community service.

Onto ad number three, BMW, Zeus and (Hera) ??? retire

What was it?

Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the role of Zeus, the chief deity of the gods. Slema Hayek plays…., well we do not know who she is supposed to play as the character is never named in the clip. I guess BMW thinks that female gods are merely nameless sex objects that hang out with the powerful male god?

The story is hard to follow as a superbowl ad, but essentially, the couple decide to retire from being gods. They relocate to Palm Springs where Zeus’ annoying neighbors ask him to charge different electric devices, like a hedge trimmer and golf cart. Zeus accommodates the requests  by pointing his finger and shooting electricity into the device or battery (I am not sure which). They have a pet, named Peggy, which looks like a miniature flying horse. I assume it is supposed to be a pegasus, which Zeus takes out on walks.

Zeus gets frustrated by the microwave, and to save the day, Hera brings home a new electric BMW, that Zeus can charge to his delight. Zeus happily drives down the road with a new lightness, while also, very selfishly, changing all the traffic signals to green through his finger lightening.

My summary is making the ad sound much funnier than it was, because I have now watched it four times. It is much less funny in the middle of the Superbowl.

Why was it ineffective? There are an incredible five main reasons!

  1. The first, and most important, is the regressive use of Ms. Hayek as a nameless sex object. Women deserve to be named, and have power beyond being a foil to a male person. We know that Mr. Schwarzenegger is playing the role of Zeus but who is Ms. Hayek playing in the ad?, Is it Hera, Zeus’ wife or someone else? Zeus was fictionalized and idolized for his misogynistic treatment of women. Are these the ideals of BMW? Why did BMW  choose such a storyline that features a character whose mythology includes tricking women into sex, rape and abuse? Haven’t women suffered enough? Why should we be impressed by this, and how has our society progressed since the well known accusations against the likes of Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein and Roger Ailes?
  2. The second reason why the ad is ineffective is that the whole segment is meant to be a parody of the gods, and a supposed retirement of Zeus. Parodies are supposed to be humorous, but the storyline is droll and boring. The viewer doesn’t really have time to process the supposed story that Zeus wants to retire, and that when he does, he hates his retirement and wants to leave Palm Springs (or at least I didn’t).
  3. The third point is the choice to hire Hollywood actors and celebrities to help sell a car. Are we supposed to think, wow, there’s Arnold Schwarzeneger and Selma Hayek, this must be a good car? Give us all a break, BMW and, don’t insult our intelligence.

    Celebrities are not necessary to sell a good product. Tesla, does not do any advertising at all and certainly doesn’t use Hollywood film stars. I have nothing against Mr. Schwarzenegger or Ms. Hayek, or their right to earn money, but do they really need additional millions for this work?
  4. The fourth fact is that most of the electricity in the United States is generated by fossil fuels, typically coal or natural gas. To avoid stating this inconvenient fact, and to deliberately make electricity look as though it is sent by the gods, is completely misleading, and disingenuous. In other words, a lie.

    The overwhelming majority of electric cars on the roads today,. rely on fossil fuels to charge their batteries.
  5. The fifth and final reason why this ad is not effective has to do with the pet, Peggy. We know from science that horses cannot have four legs and wings because horses are mammals, and mammals don’t have four limbs plus two extra that can form wings. Mammals with wings do exist, they are mainly ‘bats’. But it is their “arms” which have formed into wings. Bats do not have arms, legs plus two additional limbs sprouting from their spines to be used as wings.

    The fictional pegasus creature is anomalous and does not fit in at all, and is misleading, its also an insult to DNA science, Charles Darwin, genetic theory and people with common sense everywhere.

    The story would have been better if Zeus had adopted a rescue pet. Aren’t there millions of animals that need good homes? It would have been nice if BMW could actually have helped the world when creating this ad, instead of foolishly depicting a Pegasus. If a Pegasus did exist, which it doesn’t, people would line up to adopt such a creature. Let’s help out those animals that desperately need a home, but don’t resemble fictional, fluffy, flying creature.

How does the BMW ad relate to the focus of this podcast, which is all about reducing human suffering?

  • As discussed in my first episode, belief, to attribute physical phenomena to the gods is false, and regressive. The commercial is not funny, and perpetuates a bad idea for no value.
  • The fact that Ms. Hayek’s character is a nameless sex object to Zeus, is regressive and harmful. During a Superbowl where we witnessed the great Billie Jean King flipping the game coin, this ad comes across as tone deaf to a womens’ right to be respected and given an identity. What happened to Selma Hayek’s involvement in the the “times up” movement?

What can you, the listener, do about it?

  • Don’t buy a BMW. There are plenty of good quality cars available, that are not run by misogynistic loving organizations, who pretend to believe in Greek god fantasies, like to ignore evolution and need celebrities to sell their cars.
  • Let BMW know that you don’t appreciate the fact that Zeus, the powerful male deity was named, and Ms. Hayek’s character was nameless.
  • Support renewable energy and clean, safe nuclear energy.

Now we have come to the fourth, and final, in my list of notworthy Superbowl Ads that have to do with my theme of reducing human suffering and misery. What I want to talk about are Ads that roasted Elon Musk: namely from Polestar and Salesforce

What were they?

The Polestar ad for their EV’s. described, through text bullets, what it was not. Among the “no’s” was “No conquering Mars”, a clear jab at Elon Musk.

The Salesforce ad features a voice over by Matthew McConaughey, who poses as an astronautic, high altitude balloon operator. The narrater takes aim at the Metaverse and Mars, while claiming to want to fix things on earth.

Why they don’t work? I have three main points to discuss with you, deal listener:

The first point: We are all allowed to dream, including Elon Musk. The difference with Mr. Musk, however, is that he has the ability to make his dreams come true in ways that help humanity. One of his goals is to make Humans a multi-planet species. While we can question whether spreading humanity like a virus across the solar system is a worthy goal, or not, I truly believe that the innovations and new technologies created by a manned mission to Mars will generate dividends for the future of Humanity, similar to the technologies developed by the mission to send astronauts to the moon.  Most will be good.

The fact that Polestar and Salesforce chose to deride such a worthy goal, to score cheap “points” or to be talked about, is a low trick to build awareness and gain recognition. When organizations, in this case, Salesforce and Polestar, attempt to take value away from Mr. Musk’s dreams, and gain in a one sided way, distrust is created and that is harmful to humanity. Its also inauthentic.

Mr. Musk has already created the world’s most valuable car company, and is transforming space missions to benefit all of humanity. Tesla is focused on a future where cars can operate without the use of fossil fuels, and is skating to where the puck will be, not to where it is right now. Tesla also provides solar panels/solar roof, by way of its acquisition of Solarcity, and manufactures whole home batteries to store generated electricity.

Salesforce is doing none of the kind. What we hear from Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff are the latest buzzwords and acronyms which he throws about in conversation like a chef scatters seasoning. How is Salesforce preparing for a world without electricity generated by fossil fuels? I would like to hear that story.

Point number two: Use of celebrity spokesperson (Salesforce): Per my earlier comment, why does Salesforce need a celebrity to read the script? Why does Salesforce think that paying a Hollywood actor millions of dollars will convince people to buy, or renew, their Salesforce license? Why doesn’t Salesforce re-invest money into their products, instead, and make them better?

The third and final point on this ad: Salesforce slips in their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion activism.  A gauche attempt to normalize this idea. I will be researching and delivering an entire episode dedicated to the topic of DEI initiatives in my next season, but helping one group of humans, at the expense of another group, harms both groups. There will be more discussion on this very important topic.

What can you do about it? There are three actions you can take

One: Tell CEO Mark Benioff what you think and don’t pay attention to Mr. McConaughey, whether he is trying to sell you a car, or CRM software.

Two: I challenge the developers out there to create a true cloud based solution that can throw off the podium. We need a new solution to today’s challenges, and Salesforce has reigned far too long as the default CRM choice for businesses. I would tell you to not buy software, but the dirty secret is that everyone uses it, and no one can get off it.

Three: Ask Polestar what they do believe in. Saying what you are not, is reactionary and not defining.

To summarize the four ads we discussed today were:

  1. Coinbase, also known as the bouncing QR code screen saver.
  2. Toyota commercial featuring a disabled cross country skier and his brother.
  3. BMW commercial starring Arnold Shwarzenegger as Zeus and Selma Hyeck as an unnamed partner to Zeus.
  4. Polestar and Salesforce taking aim at Elon Musk’s dream to send a manned mission to Mars.

That concludes this bonus episode. I hope that you all enjoyed it. Please partner with me in my movement to reduce human suffering and misery!

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I want to help the world to discuss the most critical issues of our time with civility, respect and lead to a new understanding.

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