Super Bowl ads: Google’s tear-jerker is tops, mama calls for T-Mobile, Winona is in Winona and more

There’s no crying in baseball, Tom Hanks once said. But there will be tears in football, especially for those who view Google’s Super Bowl LIV commercial.

The 90-second tear-jerker called “Loretta” (above) is centered around a man who uses Google Assistant to help set reminders for how he can remember his late wife. The ad, set to somber piano music, begins with a typed Google search for “how to not forget” and then transitions into the man searching through photos and asking the voice-enabled artificial intelligence for help.

“Remember Loretta loved going to Alaska,” he says as a picture flashes of the couple fishing. “OK, I’ll remember that,” Google’s technology replies. “Remember she always snorted when she laughed,” he says, and so on.

A collection of things the man asked the Assistant to remember about Loretta then streams past on the screen, interspersed with home movie footage. We’re left as viewers to daydream about the life the couple had together, and to be thankful that Google created something to help him not forget.

“Remember, I’m the luckiest man in the world,” the man says before the ad ends.

(YouTube screen grab)

Lucky for us, not all of Sunday’s ads will leave us sobbing in front of the television. The pre-game preview of commercials contains the usual mix of less-than-memorable spots for cars, beer, soda, snacks and more.

Google’s ad not only stands out among the entire bunch, but it eclipses offerings we’ve seen from other tech giants including Amazon and Microsoft, and Facebook, which is jumping into the ad game for the first time ever.

Keep reading for some of our favorites, and check back after the game for another look at any surprises that pop up, as well as the data on which ads stole the show from the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs.

Tech

Amazon turns to Hollywood couple Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi for a look at who people turned to when there was no such thing as Alexa, the company’s smart-speaker-embedded voice AI. A variety of “historical” flashbacks capture pre-Alexa questions and answers.

“Alex, what’s today’s news?” a man asks a newsboy on the street. “Doesn’t matter, it’s all fake,” the boy replies. The man laughs and the boy shakes his head in his hand. Sigh. Read the story.

Microsoft is always out to inspire, not just entertain, with the ads it places in front of millions of Super Bowl viewers. This year is no exception, as the company focuses on Katie Sowers, an offensive assistant coach with the San Francisco 49ers who is the first woman to ever coach in the big game.

Sowers uses a Surface tablet, but her real strength is inspiring girls, women and anyone else with a desire to lead.

“I’m not trying to be the best female coach. I’m trying to be the best coach. All it takes is one and then it opens the door for so many,” Sowers says. Read the story.

It’s hard to believe that Facebook has never advertised during the Super Bowl. The social media giant must have had some FOMO this year, because here they are with a teaser for what will reportedly be a 4th-quarter ad on Sunday, featuring actors Chris Rock and Sylvester Stallone. The “Get ready to rock” theme is aimed at promoting the use of Facebook Groups. Read the story.

Everyone loves a phone call from mom. But how many calls is too many? T-Mobile puts that question to the test in a spot promoting its 5G network, starring actor Anthony Anderson and his real-life mama, Doris.

The Un-carrier has advertised in the Super Bowl for seven straight years, and this year will look for more eyeballs with a hashtag-enabled giveaway of five free Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ 5G smartphones every five minutes throughout the game. Use #5GThatWorks and #Contest on Twitter.

And tell your mama.

Space

SodaStream pulls off the best off-Earth ad with a spoof about the discovery of water on Mars. That would surely be a big damn deal, and the ad dramatically plays up how the “discovery of a lifetime” changes everything.

What also changes everything is the sound of an actual SodaStream being used on … you guessed it, the Mars water. Thanks, Mark.

Retired real-life astronaut Nicole Scott stars alongside make believe space travelers Busy Philipps and Lilly Singhin in this ad for Olay‘s skin care treatment. The ridiculous question of whether there is enough space in space for women is thankfully called out as such. And the ad ultimately proclaims that “when we make space for women, we make space for everyone.”

The company is donating $1 (up to $500,000) to Girls Who Code for every mention of #MakeSpaceForWomen, so get busy.

Notably geeky

Special cinematic guests travel from far and wide for the chance to take advantage of Walmart‘s grocery pickup service in this ad. The ship and aliens from the 2016 sci-fi thriller “Arrival” are a particularly great touch as they arrive for glass cleaner.

This is not Hawkins, Ind. This is Winona, Minn. — and Winona Ryder.

Squarespace enlists the “Stranger Things” actress for an exploration of the town she is named after in this quirky ad for the website building service. It’s worth venturing off to check out the real images she shot and website they built; and check out the longer movie version of the ad, too.

OK then, bye bye now.

Office culture is usually a hit when it comes to Super Bowl ads because where else do we discuss the game the next day? Reese’s ad for its Take 5 bar touches on all those co-workers who haven’t heard of such a snack. Get your head out of your …

Ah, the dreaded three dots of a text under consideration. Even famed director Martin Scorsese isn’t immune to waiting to see if someone will actually respond to him. Coca-Cola plays off that angst, along with actor Jonah Hill, in an ad for a drink called Energy.

Apparently Hill needs some of the beverage to muster the energy to respond to Scorsese. Waiting … waiting …

We’ll need some to make it through anymore commercials.

 

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