Barry Sanders, machines, women’s empowerment dominate ads

Mae Anderson and Alexandra Olson
Associated Press
An Anheuser-Busch spot shows a scene from the company's Bud Light Super Bowl campaign.

New York — Smart machines seemed to be everywhere during the Super Bowl commercial breaks as advertisers picked up on Americans’ unease over our growing dependence on AI.

Michelob, Pringles, SimpliSafe and TurboTax were among the brands that gave starring roles on Sunday to melancholic humanoids or sarcastic smart speakers.

But for the most part, these characters had a retro feel that resembled conventional Hollywood robots more than how AI is playing out in everyday life.

Most of these robots were also supporting players rather than the actual products that advertisers are trying to sell.

An exception was a star-studded Amazon advertisement for smart home devices powered by the company’s Alexa digital voice assistant. In what seemed like a common theme among Sunday’s ads, it addressed public unease by highlight Alexa’s endearing failures.

Also highlighting the ads, former Lions great Barry Sanders made an appearance in the NFL's epic, 2-minute spot celebrating the 100 greatest players.

Anheuser-Busch InBev has touched a nerve with its corn syrup-themed attacks ads. Several Super Bowl spots boasted that Bud Light does not use corn syrup, while trolling rival brands that do.

The ads earned a rebuke from the National Corn Growers Association. The group tweeted that America’s corn farmers were “disappointed” in Bud Light. It also thanked Miller Lite and Coors Light for “supporting our industry.”

MillerCoors also hit back with a tweet clarifying none of its products use high-fructose corn syrup. It claimed that many Anheuser-Busch products do.

Bud Lite also shocked “Game of Thrones” fans with a spoiler about who gets killed in the final season of the hit HBO show. It’s the Bud Knight.

Not really, of course. But the beer brand and HBO lit up social media with a surprise mash-up of a Super Bowl ad.

Women’s empowerment took center stage in some ads.

Hulu kicked off the theme with a first quarter ad for its next season of the feminist show “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Next, Serena Williams appeared as spokeswoman for Bumble, which bills itself as a feminist dating app where women make the first move. The tennis icon urges women not to wait to be given power, saying, “we already have it.”

Toyota highlighted the perseverance of Antoinette “Toni” Harris, a female football player from Michigan who plays at a California community college.

The Super Bowl always has its share of feel-good car commercials.

But Canadian viewers got something different: an ad attacking General Motors for being greedy and “un-Canadian.”

GM was unable to stop an auto worker union’s 30-second ad from broadcasting on Canadian TV stations during Sunday’s game. The commercial accuses GM of expanding in Mexico while leaving Canadians “out in the cold.”