Besides running away frantically, humor is perhaps our most natural defense mechanism against fear. Charlie Chaplin did it with Hitler. Dr. Strangelove did it with the Cold War. Stephen Colbert does it every night with Donald Trump and our present political climate. And this weekend during the Super Bowl, Amazon is doing it with its own growing influence over the economy, our worrying dependence on technology, and the coming AI apocalypse. It can’t be that scary if Cardi B’s joking about Mars and Gordon Ramsay’s yelling about grilled cheeses, right? Onward!
Amazon “Alexa Loses Her Voice”
What: Amazon’s celebrity-filled Super Bowl ad.
Who: Amazon, Lucky Generals
Why we care: It’s funny, relevant–you’ve seen the smart speaker sales stats–a classic celebrity Super Bowl ad that also just happens to be an elaborate product demo.
Under Armour “Ice Blazers”
What: A documentary miniseries that profiles the efforts of the Nigerian bobsled team to train and qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Who: Under Armour
Why we care: Look, Cool Runnings was 30 years ago. Now here’s another story of athletes from a warm climate applying their skills and drive to succeed amid the ice and snow. American-born Nigerian track and field athletes Seun Adigun, Akuoma Omeoga, and Ngozi Onwumere’s journey to the bobsled track in Pyeongchang is an Olympic story worth telling that’s well told here.
Project Meddle “Project Meddle”
What: A campaign to submit Russia’s state-sponsored interference in the 2016 U.S. election to every major advertising awards show in order to encourage influential tech, media, and creative leaders to create new initiatives to help prevent it from happening again.
Who: Anonymous ad creatives
Why we care: They call Russian efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. election “the most impactful advertising campaign of the century” and created a case study video to make that point. It’s scary and needed. After all, this advertising and influencer content onslaught managed to impact “an entire nation’s faith in democracy.”
Squarespace “Make It Happen”
What: Squarespace’s Super Bowl ad featuring Keanu Reeves in full, quirky, motivational daredevil mode.
Why we care: John Malkovich is a pretty tough act to follow. But once again, this year for the Super Bowl, Squarespace found another celebrity customer to work with in a surprising, joyfully weird way.
Nike “Run It”
What: A collaboration between Nike, W+K Tokyo, and Korean-American rapper/artist Jay Park, as part of Nike Korea’s new Impossible to Ignore campaign.
Who: Nike, Wieden+Kennedy Tokyo
Why we care: Here we have an original song by a popular artist, with a stylish, striking video, created with an ad agency and a brand. When we talk about marketers infiltrating culture (without holding our noses), this is what a best-case scenario looks like. Not a random tweet or a witty ad–though those are nice too–but a true collaboration on an original piece of work that actually gets people excited. More, please.