Despite a rallying cry from comedian Amy Schumer for celebrities to turn down Super Bowl ads, it looks like more Hollywood stars than ever are hitting the small screen in 30 to 90 second bites during Sunday’s big game.
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It’s not just more star power this year — the wattage is up. Cardi B, Harrison Ford, Jeff Bridges, Sarah Jessica Parker and Serena Williams all make appearances in spots for Pepsi, Amazon, Stella Artois and dating app Bumble.
“This year is definitely celebrity heavy,” Kristina Monllos, Adweek’s senior editor for brand marketing, told ABC News. “We’re noticing even more, and big names.”
Like all things NFL, the Super Bowl and its halftime show have become controversial. Rihanna and Cardi B have reportedly turned down offers to perform in solidarity with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who hasn’t played in the league since the 2016 season when he took a knee to protest police brutality against people of color.
“I personally told my reps I wouldn’t do a Super Bowl commercial this year,” she wrote. “Hitting the NFL with the advertisers is the only way to really hurt them.”
Schumer’s rep did not respond to a request for further comment.
Despite reportedly turning down the offer to play in Pepsi’s Halftime Show, Cardi B does appear in a Pepsi commercial with Steve Carrell.
The NFL does not traditionally pay performers for the halftime show but does usually cover the cost of the performance (sets, crew and technicians, for example). Artists take the opportunity to perform on one of the world’s biggest stages (in terms of audience size).
“Obviously I cannot speak for Cardi B. I think that for some celebrities there’s a difference between appearing on the field during the game and being part of the commercials,” Adweek’s Monllos said. “A commercial is not being there during the game, not associating directly with the NFL. For some performers, there is a difference.”
A rep for Cardi B did not respond to a request for comment.
However, CBS, the network airing Super Bowl LIII, is charging more than $5 million for a 30-second commercial, or more than $166,667 per second.
Tennis great Serena Williams, who appears with Kaepernick in the controversial “Just Do It” Nike anniversary ads, makes an appearance for Bumble, which is in the midst of branching out from a dating app to a business tool.
The commercial’s title is “The Ball is in Her Court.”
“With Serena, you have an opportunity to talk about women making the first move in a career journey via Bumble,” Mollnos said. “People still want the platform of the Super Bowl for the ads, even if they don’t necessarily agree with the NFL.”
A rep for Williams did not respond to a request for comment.
Even Harrison Ford and Forrest Whitaker, who are usually associated with big movie events, both appear in an Amazon ad for rejected Alexa products.