Looking Away From The Super Bowl

Ella Barnett

In a fairly dreary and disappointing Super Bowl, the ads did not brighten up the day. Taking a fairly traditional and conservative route, most of the ads were not out to make a specific statement – political or otherwise. However there were several exceptions including Budweisers ‘Wind Never Felt Better’ which promoted renewable energy. In addition, from Microsoft’s ‘We All Win’ focusing on those with disabilities, to Google’s ‘1 Billion Words’ looking at how Google Translate helps overcome the barrier of language, and even KIA’s ‘Give It Everything’ which zoned in on West Point, GA (and included a scholarship instead of a celebrity spokesperson), there was a definite, if under the radar statement of inclusion.

Also, robots.

Seriously, every other ad had some sort of robotic or machine based aspect to it. The creepy robot with a baby face representing TurboTax, the robots who consistently outperform us, but can’t experience the same pleasures as us – ie. Michelob Ultra beer and even Alexa and her ‘things that didn’t make it’. Robots, robots everywhere. If that doesn’t tell you about society today, I don’t know what does.

However what I want to talk about today isn’t one of the ads at the Super Bowl that costs $5 million for a 30 second spot. No, it’s about Skittles, a brand who purposefully decided to not partake in the Super Bowl and instead create a entire musical, Skittles Commercial: The Broadway Musical. Can we please appreciate for a second how out of the box this is. In a world that is increasingly celebrating novelty and uniqueness, separating yourself from the pack like this is a bold and – in my opinion – brilliant strategy.

Featuring Michael C Hall (from Dexter), Skittles puts on a 30 minute musical written by Pulitzer Prize finalist Will Eno. It follows the story of Hall, dressed as a cat, contemplating his acceptance of doing a commercial of skittles and how it will effect his overall career. The entire musical is a reflection on advertising, creating a postmodern, fantastical experience that actively lets the audience know exactly how they are being advertised to, including the amount of skittle packs the box office sold and explicitly stating that they have paid tickets to see a musical that literally has ‘commercial in it’s title. This is then elevated by – as is the case for all musicals – the songs, which include several hits (now found on Spotify) such as: ‘This Might Have Been a Bad Idea’ and ‘Advertising Ruins Everything’. 

Seriously, I have been listening to them on repeat. They. Are. Amazing.

“We were dupped once again, by a marketing stunt, and you sir are to blame”

“”It ruins the web and it ruins TV and it fills our inboxes with spam…There’s nothing we hate more than each time you pay for targeted ads that show up on Instagram…It shows me how perfect a person can be and reminds me how perfect i’m not. I wish i was happier but I feel crappier with this new face that I’ve got.”

Skittles have set themselves apart, made themselves the joke, made advertising a joke, and made you feel included and laugh without malice at the entire thing. For a truly great write up of the show, with all the details look no further than this Polygon article

Dubbed by AdAge as ‘a huge F.U. to advertising’, It is truly a work of genius. I’m only sad that I didn’t get to attend because in a follow up to Skittles’ Super Bowl stunt last year, it’s a once only show.

And just as a small look of how effective this non-Super Bowl ‘ad’ was, you can see the increased interest about Skittles in comparison to M&Ms – keeping in mind that M&Ms actually took out a Super Bowl spot. I’ll just leave this here…

Source: Google Trends