Super Bowl ads make strange bedfellows. Half a week out from The Big Game™, Google just dropped their spot. This time out, the company’s Pixel 7 is in the spotlight — specifically the smartphone’s impressive AI imaging features.
Legally, one can’t have a Super Bowl spot without enlisting celebrities, so the company hired musician Doja Cat, comedian Amy Schumer and the NBA’s most lovable power forward (sorry, KD), Giannis Antetokounmpo. It’s a fun spot. Schumer Magic Erases her exes, Doja Cat unblurs a fan selfie and Antetokounmpo erases getting dunked on by Jaylen Brown in a bit of postgame implausible deniability.
The camera is, clearly, the best thing about the Pixel line, with computational photography and software editing at the heart of the experience, so it tracks that it’s the part Google wants to highlight here. I’d go out on a limb and say the Pixel line doesn’t have a fraction of the market awareness of an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, so this is no doubt a quick (if wildly expensive) way to get it out in front of as many American eyeballs as possible, with an estimated 75% of the population planning to watch Super Bowl LVII.
But that exposure doesn’t come cheap. Ad Age reports that a 30-second spot costs as much as $7 million. If Google plans to run the full ad on Fox this Sunday, it clocks in at three times that length. Factor in working with top advertising specialists, studios and three very famous people and, well, that’s a sizable financial commitment for a quick hit.
Google’s market share is growing, mind, following some dramatic changes to the division. Following an impressive 380% growth, the Pixel line now controls about 2% of the North American phone market. It’s hard to say what success looks like for the line. Google has long insisted that its mobile ambitions are about more than simply showing off new vanilla Android features, and the couple of Pixels have borne that out. Certainly it’s telling that neither the Google nor the Pixel branding pop up until the end of the videos.
Having such an expensive ad appear a mere weeks after Alphabet announced that it was laying off 12,000 is gauche, to say the least — though certainly not Sting at Davos level (even if this is, undoubtedly, a far pricier venture). However, the wheels were almost certainly in motion for this well before the layoffs, with Fox reportedly having sold 95% of spots by last September. And, hey, it certainly beats FTX.